Cocktail Chatter

Love Children, Humdrum Republicans, and the Apocalypse—Gaga-style.

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

The Sound of Settling: Maybe Tim Pawlenty is just the sort of boring, solid candidate Republicans need,” by David Weigel. His speeches are unremarkable. His media appearances are generic. His politics are soporifically moderate. Tim Pawlenty might just be the GOP’s golden ticket to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Awaiting the Rapture: The longer Republicans wait for an ‘exciting’ candidate, the worse off they’ll be,” by John Dickerson. The field of GOP presidential hopefuls reminds Dickerson of “a child’s birthday party when the magician doesn’t show.” The author urges Republicans to stop counting on a “late savior” and start dealing with the candidates they have.

’Love Child’: How a bastard phrase went mainstream,” by Katie Roiphe. The author takes on a term that’s frustrating in its shifting implications—is it judgmental? Tolerant? Neutral? With Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son and other “love children” listening, maybe we should watch our language.  

What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy? He was a realist. He’s becoming an idealist,” by Jacob Weisberg. When it comes to navigating international affairs, Obama often seems caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of interests and values. Yet his recent response to the Arab Spring suggests that the POTUS’ ethical convictions now take precedence.

Man Milk: My curious quest to breast-feed,” by Michael Thomsen. Like guinea pigs and certain fruit bats, it turns out that male humans can produce milk. Armed with this knowledge, organic supplements, and a brand new breast pump, the writer attempts to self-induce lactation. Will milk be spilled or only tears? 

Netanyahu Blew It: The Israeli prime minister picks a stupid, unnecessary, and wrong fight with President Obama,” by Eliot Spitzer. In charging into a debate about Israel’s 1967 borders, Netanyahu lost an opportunity to renew a sense of fellowship between Americans and Israelis. His mistake may prove costly at the United Nations this September.

The King and I: My quest to build the perfect production of King Lear,” by Jessica Winter. The curtains open on “Fantasy League Lear,” which assembles sublime moments from an array of subpar Lear reenactments. Can Winter build a production worthy of Shakespeare’s mad tragedy?

The Case—Please Hear Me Out—Against the Em Dash: Modern prose doesn’t need any more interruptions—seriously,” by Noreen Malone. A writer and former copy editor laments—understandably—the flurry of em dashes—such as these—that so barbarically chop up sentence flow. We all may owe the comma an apology.

The Worst of Youth: Why do we fetishize and overpraise the young?” by Simon Doonan. Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Doonan must hold his nose and dive into an auditorium filled with vapid, preening and oversexed kids. (Never mind that he likes the FIT graduates he actually encounters).

The Gaga Rapture: Her new album takes pop to windswept, end-times heights,” by Jody Rosen. Rosen says the star’s latest songs “[slip] the surly bonds of earth, gusting heavenward to touch the cloudbank where Jesus, or Meatloaf, gazes down from a golden throne.” Maybe Gaga should have called her record Born Again This Way

Thanks for the Doughnuts: When did interns start buying lunch for the office, instead of the other way around?” by Chris Wilson. Wilson tracks the economic downturn by reflecting on the culinary gifts of past and present Slate interns. Sayonara, Slate! We’ll miss you.