- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

Velvet grip
"McCall's was bleeding $2 million a month, despite a circulation of about 4 million. But with [Rosie] O'Donnell, [publishing executive Dan] Brewster saw his chance.
"Beginning in 1883 with Ladies' Home Journal, the so-called Seven Sisters magazines Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and McCall's held a velvet yet firm grip on the mores of Middle American women. It's safe to say that, while Rosie O'Donnell appreciates Halloween cakes in the shape of spiders, a left-wing lesbian mother of three may not be exactly a reassuring embodiment of Middle American norms.
"At the first meeting of the Rosie editorial staff, an unsmiling O'Donnell reportedly said, 'Well, it's either going to be an enormous success or a big failure. That's the way I do everything.' She seemed to have, as one editor puts it, 'a very combative outlook on life.'
"'That was one of the problems we had from the outset,' says another Rosie editor. 'She has a problem accepting this as a women's magazine.'"
Judith Newman, writing on "Cracklin' Rosie," in the December issue of Vanity Fair

Status is power
"Economists have this notion that people seek utility, which for most economists has to do with the satisfaction of various desires or money income. I think [Adam] Smith understood that there's actually a more complex psychology involved.
"In some cases we do want resources, but in many other cases what we want is the esteem of another human being that recognises your dignity. Smith has this phrase where he says that when the rich man glories in his richness it is not that he lives to enjoy in private the money that he has, it is more that he is seen by other people as having achieved wealth and status. The reason Smith says poverty is humiliating is that the poor man is invisible to his fellow man and is not recognised as another human being.
"What's understood typically as economic motivation can actually be broken down into what I would call strictly economic motivation, the desire for resources, and a struggle for recognition, which is this inter-subjective desire to have your status recognised by other human beings. I think a great deal of politics is actually not over resource allocation, it's over recognition struggles gay rights, feminism, civil rights, all of these things are essentially demands that other people recognise you as an individual, or your group of people, as having a certain kind of moral status."
Francis Fukuyama, interviewed by Andrew Norton in the September-November issue of Policy

TV habit
"Recently I got married, fairly late in life for that sort of thing, and have made astonishing discoveries. Most of these revelations turn out to be common knowledge. But one, I believe, has not been widely aired.
"People's Exhibit A (my wife), Your Honor, is a formidable, intelligent woman with an important and challenging job and a full private life. She doesn't squander her time. And yet she spends many hours a week watching reruns of 'Law & Order.'
"It would be misleading to call her a fan. 'Law & Order,' the long-running crime drama, is not just one of her favorite TV shows, or even her very favorite. Other than reruns of 'Law & Order,' she has almost no interest in television at all.
"Exhibit A and I assumed that this was our little secret. Perhaps it had to do with our weather here in Seattle, which affects some people oddly. Or too much coffee. But then we had a visitor from the East Coast who announced that his wife was about to become the TV critic of a major newspaper. 'And the amazing thing,' he added, 'is that she never watches TV except for reruns of "Law & Order."'
"Good grief. I began making discreet inquiries. Always women. Always high-powered. Always 'Law & Order.' Always reruns. What on earth is going on?"
Michael Kinsley, writing on "The Secret Vice of Power Women," Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com


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