A Piece for Every Palate

You needn’t be a reporter for The Note to recognize which approach to the “families of fallen soldiers” story the White House prefers this week: Time’s mostly sympathetic profile of Cindy Sheehan (her friends call her “Atilla the Honey”), a “wandering mother who has tapped into a national well of worry,” or Newsweek’s exploration of what goes down at President Bush’s “emotional private meetings with the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan” during which he “offers solace — and seeks some of his own” (headline, “‘I’m So Sorry’”).

(Unaccustomed as we’ve become to seeing serious newsmagazine covers in August, we were almost reassured to turn from Time and Newsweek to U.S. News & World Report, with its cover declaring, “America Eats!” (24 stories — including one “In Praise of Chop Suey” — that explain that “it’s what we eat … that help[s] define America as a community today.”)

If you still have an appetite for stories about how the almighty blogosphere is transforming everything, have a look at Dean Barnett’s piece in this week’s Weekly Standard. Barnett explains how “the left-wing blogosphere is ready to take on the party establishment” (based on the role bloggers played in the recent special Congressional election in Ohio and the lack of a role played by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and what “Democratic candidates have to do to earn the love” of said bloggers (in short, “try to sound angry enough to please the party’s e-base,” as when Paul Hackett — the Democratic candidate in the Ohio special election — called Rush Limbaugh a “fat-ass drug addict.”) Barnett opens his piece with a crowd-pleaser — a shot at a cable news anchor: “CNN Political Commentator Bill Schneider is many things, but a dispenser of new and original insights he is not,” he begins, before explaining that even Schneider has noticed “the ascendancy of the liberal blogosphere.”

In this week’s New Republic, Jerry Coyne argues — for paying subscribers only — that “it’s time to recognize intelligent design for what it really is: a clever euphemism for biblical creationism” in a cover story with the less-than-clever headline, “Unintelligent Design.” If you’re willing to part with some personal information, you can read Ross Douthat’s free online explanation of “how intelligent design hurts conservatives” even as it appeals to “conservative intellectuals[‘] … hope that Darwinism will yet join Marxism and Freudianism in the dustbin of pseudoscience.”

And finally, if black humor’s your bag, you’ll want to read The New Yorker’s spoof, “The New Army Recruiting Pamphlet,” by Joel Stein. Here’s a taste: “We even have an exciting design-your-own-rank program. One of our best new recruits is Neutral Evil Half-Elf Druid McCallister. And you know what? If McCallister believes his ‘Little Mermaid’ poncho is a cloak of invisibility, we believe it makes him invisible, too. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.