Mourning JFK Jr. All the Way to the Bank; Bush’s "Hard Right"; "Ideal" Clinton Separation
1. News magazines mourned the passing of another member of "America’s Royal Family."
Newsweek laid it on thick: "He was more than our ‘Prince Charming,’ as the New York tabs called him...We etched the past and the future on his fine face."
2. On the campaign trail, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman reported on George W. Bush’s finessing of the "hard right" members in his party but didn’t get around to mentioning Al Gore and Bill Bradley’s attempts to woo the "hard left" in their party.
3. Time magazine began a report on Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak meeting in Washington by asking the hardly-unbiased James Carville about his two clients: Which one is smarter?
Time found "‘Clinton is brilliant but nowhere near the mathematician or musician that Barak is.’ Then again, Carville notes, the President has astonishing people skills."
4. U.S. News & World Report found a marriage expert to endorse Bill and Hillary Clinton living the 21st century in separate states. "In a way, it's the ideal situation. They can stay married...and they don't have to deal with the day-to-day problems of marriage."
News magazines mourned the passing of another member of "America’s Royal Family." Coverage of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crash dominated the July 26 news magazines and their covers. If the week-after issues filled with Princess Diana news are any indication, the news magazines will have their best sales week of 1999. Time merely noted a "commemorative issue" with his name and life span. Newsweek’s cover said "AGAIN: A Kennedy Family Tragedy," and U.S. News & World Report just used "The Kennedy Curse." Only U.S. News also featured the late Mrs. Kennedy on the cover.
While the coverage was for the most part sober, some writers couldn’t resist the opportunity to make the perfunctory regal references to the liberal Kennedy clan.
At Time, the headline to a Nancy Gibbs story trumpeted: "He Was America’s Prince. An Icon of Both Magic and Grief Who Flew His Own Course to the Lost Horizon."
But Time lionized the whole family. In a piece entitled, "Look Homeward Angel Once Again," essayist Roger Rosenblatt waxed poetically about the Kennedy curse taking on the proportion of Greek tragedy and then ranked the Kennedys in the pantheon of great political dynasties: "Love or hate the Kennedys, there is no family in American history like them–Not the Adamses, not the Roosevelts. They may lack the blue-blood lineage, but they have stuck together (even if the glue has sometimes been messy), have forged and sustained a civilization before our eyes."
Even conservative writer Peggy Noonan claimed "His father lived a life of meaning and drama, a heroic life that spanned less than 50 years," and wondered of Junior, " Wouldn't he live a giant life too? What kind of man will King Arthur's son be?"
Over at Newsweek, Jonathan Alter laid it on thick: "The Kennedy family will play a role in American public life in the next century. A member of the family, perhaps Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, may even be elected President some day. But we will never see a figure quite like John F. Kennedy Jr. again. He was more than our ‘Prince Charming,’ as the New York tabs called him. We etched the past and the future on his fine face."
His colleague Kenneth Auchincloss drooled: "Blessed with a handsome face and a famous name, ample wealth and five-star celebrity, JFK Jr. was the golden boy of his generation, a darling of magazine covers (the sexiest man alive, cooed People) and a sort of American royal. He was our closest equivalent to Princess Diana, a comparison that his sudden loss will now make inescapable." Historian Douglas Brinkley echoed the thought in an essay, recounting how he suggested to JFK Jr. that he could be seen like John Quincy Adams: "That's kind of you...But I feel more like Princess
U.S. News was less prone to lapse into royal worship. Brian Kelly and Kenneth Walsh referred instead to geography: "Just miles from the place where his Uncle Ted drove off the Chappaquiddick bridge and into the rolls of political infamy almost exactly 30 years ago, John F. Kennedy Jr. disappeared." But they also listed Chappaquiddick in a listing of family tragedies: "Since World War II, the Kennedy family has been plagued by a series of disasters that, taken together, stretch the bounds of coincidence."
Certainly, Ted’s infamous efforts to leave the scene of an accident and fake like he hadn’t been there weren’t coincidental.
On the campaign trail, Newsweek ’s Howard Fineman reported on George W. Bush’s finessing of "the hard right" members in his party but didn’t get around to mentioning Al Gore and Bill Bradley’s attempts to woo the "hard left" in their party.
Fineman recounted how Bush’s stances as Governor of Texas on such issue as gun control, school prayer and the death penalty had impressed the National Right to Life Committee, the NRA and the Christian Coalition, but then noted how Bush’s recent statements have gotten him into hot water with some conservatives. "Now Bush is carefully tacking to the middle, confident that he can finesse the hard right as he aims for the general election. ‘Concealed carry’ was right for Texas, he said last week, but he wouldn't try to impose that pro-gun measure on the country. There will be no ‘litmus test’ for federal judges, he said, and he won't push for tax cuts without making sure that Social Security, Medicare and the Pentagon are made whole. He quietly met with top Democrats in Hollywood, Newsweek learned, including Warren Beatty, Jack Valenti and Sherry Lansing, and wowed them with his charm and a pledge to work hard on education. Some conservatives were alarmed. ‘I know Ronald Reagan,’ huffs [Sen. Bob] Smith, ‘and Bush is no Ronald Reagan.’"
Fineman continued: "But no one else is, either. Sen. John McCain is admired as a war hero, and has a conservative voting record, but is distrusted by many hard-right activists. Elizabeth Dole is a Bible-belt product who could have courted the right, but moved left instead and seems to be going nowhere fast. Dan Quayle still is haunted by a perpetual laugh track. Buchanan was a sensation in New Hampshire in 1992 and 1996, but even his fans in the Granite State think he is running one time too many. Forbes is worth billions, and will spend $100 million -- but few outside his camp think he can be more than a platinum-plated spoiler."
In Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom Watch" section, ‘W’ garnered respect (and ridicule) for his fundraising prowess, but the GOP as a whole didn’t fare as well.
George W. Bush: Up arrow. "Good: He won’t spend public’s money in campaign. Bad: "It’s special-interest loot."
John Kasich: Up arrow. "Sees the obvious, quits with head high. So what’s stopping the other doomed GOP’s?"
GOP: Down arrow. "Waters down health-care reform. Why don’t they just call it the HMO bill of rights?"
Bill Gates: Up arrow. "Wins a lawsuit-and is now worth $100 billion. About as much as W’s campaign chest."
Time magazine began a report on Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak meeting in Washington by asking the hardly-unbiased James Carville about his two clients: Which one is smarter? Time’s headline to the Lisa Beyer piece read: "Love at First Wonk, Everyone says brainiacs Clinton and Barak are made for each other. But can they cut a peace deal?"
Beyer began: "Who is smarter, U.S. President Bill Clinton or Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak? James Carville, who has served both men, had to think a minute. ‘Barak is probably the most unique person I've met in terms of his range of skills,’ he explains. ‘Clinton is brilliant but nowhere near the mathematician or musician that Barak is.’ Then again, Carville notes, the President has astonishing people skills. That combustible mix of charm and intellect was on vibrant display last week as the two men grinned their way from photo op to photo op, cementing what they clearly hope will become a fast friendship of mutual interest and political romance. Eager for breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process, Barak and Clinton orchestrated a public embrace meant to persuade Israelis that with a strong ally in Washington they can afford the concessions new treaties will demand."
Beyer never revealed who she would bet on in a game of Jeopardy.
U.S. News & World Report found a marriage expert to endorse Bill and Hillary Clinton living the 21st century in separate states. In the "Washington Whispers" section, Paul Bedard found marriage gurus endorsing a little personal space. "After Monica, Paula, Gennifer, and Kathleen, it's not far-fetched to think that the long-distance Arkansas-New York-Washington relationship envisioned by ‘former’ President Clinton and ‘Sen.’ Hillary Rodham Clinton could mean Splitsville for the first couple. But marriage gurus say separation is just what the doctor ordered. ‘It's the perfect solution,’ says Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting. ‘In a way, it's the ideal situation. They can stay married . . . and they don't have to deal with the day-to-day problems of marriage.’ Her hint: lots of E-mails and, dare we say it, phone sex. One warning sign, from Diane Sollee, a marriage and divorce counselor: If the missis wins her New York Senate race, she'll be wearing the pants in the family, and the duo will have to learn role reversal."
The last time the President tried phone sex, it didn’t work out so well.
-- Geoffrey Dickens
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