12/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Week in Magazines : Obama-Mania

Not all's lost for the Republicans: John McCain apparently took the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and Algeria.

Or so says the Global Electoral College, an online poll by the
London-based Economist, the newsweekly whose U.S. edition's growth
seems to run counter to American media's tactical penchant for shorter
and more "utilitarian." Alas, it exhibits no signs of turning to
"charticles," celebrity coverage, or holograms showcasing its
reporters. How quaint; seeking profits without pandering.

Given the negative American image in many parts, it's no great
surprise that Barack Obama won most of the 53,000 votes cast, with
landslides in 56 of the 136 countries casting votes. But McCain did
win the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Algeria, as well as Iraq
and Cuba. He also had decent support in Andorra and Namibia.
Minnesotans awaiting the Al Franken-Norm Coleman final tally, be
informed that the Economist recorded absolute ties in Macedonia and
Myanmar. As you await your outcome, realize that things could be

Meanwhile, Obama partisans might find a cautionary note in the
Economist's lengthy special report on Spain. The fiesta inspired by
the Socialist Party's general election win in March is clearly over
amid an economic mess. Things began to hit the fan in August.
"Spaniards went on holiday in party mood and came back to find there
was no champagne left, nor even any decent wine," says one former
International Monetary Fund official who runs a university near

---There appear to have been 2,346,862 words written last week about
Obama and the role of race in his life and his victory, including a
fair bit of fact-free, self-indulgent opining on "post-racial"
politics. Nov. 17 New Yorker includes one of the more-nuanced, and
actually reported, efforts, by multitasker par excellence David
, the magazine's editor. He looks closely at how Obama both
celebrated it and pushed race aside at the same time; and how certain
black politicians were embraced and others kept at a distance.
Interestingly, there is a comparison to how Chicago political
consultant Don Rose played candidate Jane Byrne's gender (or didn't
play it) during her historic 1979 campaign for mayor of Chicago (a
campaign covered, though not noted here, by young Chicago Tribune
reporter David Axelrod, now Obama's chief strategist). There are some
usual-suspect voices here, but one of the most intriguing is that of
historian David Levering Lewis, who finds in Obama's books "a young
man almost alone in the world, trying to find a place." It's hard not
to consider that comment and recall Obama's at-times decidedly serious
air during the Grant Park celebration last week. Amid the celebration,
there was a man who sensed the moment and the huge challenges ahead as
he tries to find his place.

---So Karl Rove, President Bush's David Axelrod, can find some solace
in November Harper's, despite editor Roger Hodge's somewhat screechy
essay on the Republicans possibly stealing the election (obviously
written before), with McCain "not only a liar but a menace to our
children's future." Rove exacts an apology for a sloppy error in an
August essay by Thomas Frank in which Rove was quoted as saying, "We
can now go to students at Harvard and say, 'There is now a secure
retirement plan for Republican operatives.' " It's actually a Grover
Norquist comment and was misidentified in the Washington Monthly, then
apparently regurgitated by Frank. "For the record, I have never
worried about the retirement needs of Harvard graduates," Rove writes.
As senior reporters and copy editors get bounced everywhere, it's a
reminder that checking original sources is a dying practice.

But Harper's is worth a bunch of short analyses in "How to Save
," including ones from Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, New
American Foundation's Roger Lynn, and economist James K. Galbraith.
Stiglitz is very good on the duplicities of rating agencies that are
obviously paid by the firms whose products they evaluate. Lynn
suggests that altering the practice of stock options could tighten
focus on next-generation products, not generating short-term cash. And
perhaps the most intriguing concept floated is for a financial
equivalent of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, perhaps a
Financial Product Safety Commission, with a civil-service-protected
staff, and, among other goals, forcing companies to reveal the true
cost of credit. The idea comes from Harvard Law School's Elizabeth
Warren, and Amelia Tyagi, co-founder of the Business Talent Group.

---Democratic media consultant Bill Carrick and Republican
communications strategist Todd Harris can jack up their hourly rates
after winning the National Journal's pre-election "insiders poll."
Both hit the electoral tally on the head, while Carrick went against
his party's consensus and did figure Obama would win Indiana. Harris
bucked his fellow GOP insiders by going for Democratic Lt. Gov. Bev
Perdue in the North Carolina gubernatorial race. And they were both
right, and thus in a minority of the smarty pants participants, that
the California gay marriage ban initiative would pass.

---If Carrick and Harris are looking to celebrate, November Coastal
includes staff writers' fave five locals. They are McWay Falls
in Big Sur, Calif.; the fishing pier in Naples, Fla.; the 90-minute
catamaran cruise from Beaufort, N.C., to Cape Lookout National
Seashore; a four-seat seaplane over Tongass National Forest and down
into Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska; and perhaps "the
Caribbean's most eccentric dining experience" at Bogles Round House in
Carriacou, West Indies. It's said to resemble a displaced igloo,
stocked with recycled and found materials, including a whale jawbone.

--- Nov. 30 Sports Illustrated writes a letter to Major League
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, bemoaning how the Phillies-Rays
matchup was the least-watched ever and suggesting that he move up the
start times so kids can watch; insist that news stadiums are built
with retractable roofs to avoid October cold (next year's series could
actually end on Nov. 4); and cut out most of the off-days during the
playoffs. As for neutral venues, a la the sun-filled Super Bowl, it's
unequivocal: "screw neutral sites. Could you imagine if the Cubs get
to the World Series and it's not in Chicago?"

Hey, it may be distinctly moot since, after their post-season collapse
last month, it's now even harder to imagine the Cubs in the series.
And, to further frustrate their fans, an unequivocally diehard White
Sox fan will take the presidential oath on Jan. 20.