- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2003

“Not only is the old American Spectator back. It is back with a vengeance,” Alfred Regnery says in his note from the publisher in the magazine’s October issue, on sale this week in an elegantly designed format.

How right Mr. Regnery is.

The issue carries as its cover story a lengthy article on “the recent changes at The New York Times” by Renata Adler.

Miss Adler, the author of seven books, is a professor in Boston University’s interdisciplinary University Professors Program. What the magazine doesn’t note is that Miss Adler was on staff at the New York Times some 30 years ago — which gives her extra insight into that rather troubled publication headquartered on Manhattan’s 43rd Street.

Robert Bartley, former editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal — who, as he puts it, has been lending “an editorial hand in what I’d imagined would be spare time after giving up administrative responsibilities” at the Journal — introduces “Our New Old Look.” He calls particular attention not only to the Adler piece, but also to Paul Johnson’s “The left-wing roots of anti-Semitism,” Jonathan Aiken’s illuminating piece on “restorative justice” and, inter alia, Brian Wesbury’s “Welcome to the Bush Boom”

Mr. Wesbury’s article is one of the most heartwarming pieces you’re apt to come across in any magazine this month. Chief economist for a Chicago-based investment bank, he confidently declares after laying out statistics, “Not since the Industrial Revolution has the U.S. experienced this kind of productivity growth.”

He goes on to say we need “not worry about rising interest rates, deflation or the lack of job growth.”

Continuing, Mr. Wesbury declares, “Job creation will resume in the coming months, as economic growth finally catches up with surging productivity gains.”

In short, Mr. Wesbury concludes: “The Bush Boom has arrived. Ignore it at your own risk.”

• • •

The New Yorker, which is running a pretty politically oriented cover on its Oct. 13 issue (with the president in cowboy gear astride a galloping steed and with blinders on his head), nonetheless has a good piece — “Post-Imperial Blues,” by Editor in Chief David Remnick. A former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post, Mr. Remnick, who is fluent in Russian, visited his old stamping grounds recently and talked with sundry political figures now offering evaluations on how Vladimir Putin is doing these days.

Mr. Remnick has good insight and commentary: “Putin’s relationship is easier now with Gorbachev than it is with Yeltsin. Sometimes it’s easier to get along with your grandfather than it is with your father.” When asked whether Mr. Putin should be viewed as a democrat, Anatoly Chubais, one-time adviser to Mr. Yeltsin, said: “There is a spectrum of democrats that ranges from, say, [Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi to Tony Blair. Putin is somewhere within the spectrum, but he is closer to Berlusconi than he is to Blair.

“What he is not is Fidel Castro.”

Meanwhile, the issue’s lead story is a gentle, rather admiring treatment of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior senator from New York, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Miss Kolbert, a political correspondent for the magazine, managed to get a nice quote from the former first lady.

Asked whether she had kept a diary for use in refreshing her memory while writing her best-selling memoir, “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton “turned to me and said, ‘No. Because it would have been subpoenaed.’,” Miss Kolbert writes.

• • •

In its fall issue, the excellent Claremont Review of Books surrenders its cover to author Mark Helprin’s “War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity,” an intelligent and thoughtful analysis of Arab mentality. As Mr. Helprin points out, “In the West, success is everything, but in the Arab Middle East honor is everything, and can co-exist perfectly well with failure.”

He writes that the “only effective strategy in the war against terrorism is to shift Arab-Islamic society into comfortable fatalism and resignation.” Mr. Helprin also argues that the “object of such an exercise is not to defeat the Arabs but to dissuade them from making war on us.”

This, he says “would be more likely to succeed now than when it was joined to religious war in the Crusades or to the imperial expansionism of Europe.”

It certainly makes for fresh and stimulating reading on a vital problem.

• • •

For a sudden change of pace, consider the October issue of Latina, the seventh-fastest-growing magazine in America.

Oriented to today’s bicultural Hispanic-American woman, Latina is very much like its American sister publications with heavy emphasis on fashion, celebrities, hair and men. Yet the current issue stands out with a first-rate seven-page guide on “everything Latinas need to know about breast cancer.”

Also, with the October observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the magazine excerpts minibiographies from a forthcoming book in Spanish on “Women of Conquest” — some 40 women, that is, who played a role in the New World alongside the conquistadors.

One item tells of Isabel Barreto y Quiros, Spain’s one and only female admiral, who took command from her husband, Alvaro de Mendana, after his death and got a fleet safely to port across the Pacific to the Philippines in 1595. Surely some enterprising novelist or producer is going to know what to do with such ripe material.

• • •

Want to dream of getting away as fall sets in and winter looms?

Take a gander at National Geographic’s October issue of Traveler.

First, there’s “The Ultimate Vacation Wish List” rankings of vacation goals; taking an around-the-world trip comes in at the top, and a visit to Australia places fifth.

Second, “Experiences of a Lifetime” runs down 120 memorable moments in the greatest spiritual and physical pursuits in the world.

Also of note: The magazine this month with the boldest cover line of the lot has to be the October Popular Mechanics : “Instant Flying — 20 Affordable, Factory-Built Sport Planes You Can Pilot Right Now With Just A Driver’s License.”

Doesn’t that give you something to think about?

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