The “new GOP” idea then leads into mini snapshots of the rises of Whitman (“The Billionaire”), Rubio (“The Upstart”), Paul (“The Populist”), and O’Donnell (“The Troublemaker”). For those who haven’t been feverishly following the stories of these headline-grabbing candidates for the past year or so—and on that note, where is Sharron Angle? (“The Dragonslayer”, perhaps)—it’s quite the primer. But with the exception of his treatment of Paul, Von Drehl focuses on strategy and positioning rather than positions and issues. This from the Whitman section is typical:

In a Gallup poll earlier this year, Big Business ranked among the least trusted institutions in America — even lower than the news media. The free-spending Whitman has been whipsawed by that perception. On issues large and small, ranging from her ties to Goldman Sachs to her former nanny’s immigration status, Democrats have endeavored to convert Whitman’s most obvious strength (her financial acumen) into a fatal flaw.

Voters are ready to throw the bums out, and CEOs have joined the ranks of the bums. The same dilemma faces former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as she seeks to unseat California Senator Barbara Boxer. After three terms in office, Democrat Boxer has struggled to reach 50% support in the polls, yet she held a slight lead over Fiorina in the last days of the campaign. Meanwhile, in the race to be Florida’s next governor, Republican Rick Scott, a hospital-industry entrepreneur, was neck and neck with former banking executive Alex Sink, a Democrat. Their debates have largely boiled down to trading jabs over which of them was the more rapacious and irresponsible mogul. It’s that kind of year.

Yep, it’s that kind of year.

It’s also the kind of year in which the national press has obsessed over a few sensational and narrative-capturing candidates, much of the time in lieu of covering in any depth the issues these candidates are seeking to repeal and scale back. A year in which everyone played like Politico.

In the week before the election, Time had an opportunity to do something a little different; to use its heft to report out the issues driving the election and point to the differences between where each party stands on them. Or, as their rival Newsweek does in its November 1 edition, to go through the issues and spell out what a Republican-led house would want to do on climate, education, and taxes et al, and how much they will likely get done. Its conjecture, but informed, and a service to readers in fleshing out their poll-booth choices.

Time’s story is fun and flashy, but ultimately just feels like a rehash of the election season and a reminder of the kind of coverage we saw throughout it.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.