Holding Breath and Turning Blue: Denying Bush's Power

In reviewing the year 2007 in magazines, Washington Post writer Peter Carlson found the year was dull, boring, and in no way memorable. But he did find it amazing that magazines would do power-sniffing surveys and completely exclude President Bush from the power lists:

In 2007, GQ published "The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C." -- a list that actually included 56 powerful people in D.C. but did not include George W. Bush, the president of the United States. Time magazine published "The Time 100," a list of "the World's Most Influential People." It included Raul Castro, Michael J. Fox and Kate Moss but it also did not include President Bush. It also didn't include Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, whom Time later named its "Person of the Year."

Does any of that make any sense?

No, actually, it does not, especially when Bush clearly won in the major battles with congressional Democrats. Carlson then added that in general, tons of magazine paper were wasted on boring campaign journalism, although some stood out for snark:

Radar, which tries to be the world's snarkiest magazine and sometimes succeeds, published a fake photo showing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama naked while Mitt Romney looked on wearing his Mormon underwear....

But it took Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, who tries to be the world's snarkiest magazine writer and frequently succeeds, to sum up the campaign thus far: "In the absurd black comedy of the American electoral process, our presidential candidates are mostly two-dimensional monsters, grotesque approximations of human beings born by some obscene asexual reproductive method in the demeaning celluloid muck of the campaign trail."

Come on, Matt, don't hold back. Tell us what you really think.

Carlson could have simply done the critic's version of I Know You Are, But What Am I? Taibbi's writings are two-dimensional grotesque approximations of journalism. Finally, Carlson mocked a letter-writer to the hard-left Nation magazine:

America's magazine readers did not just sit back and passively accept all the weird stuff foisted upon them by America's magazines. Sometimes they snorted with derision. Sometimes they threw the magazine across the room in disgust. Sometimes they fired off angry letters to the editor. Sometimes those letters were at least as goofy as the stuff they were protesting.

"How ironic and sad that in an article on 'The New Right-Wing Smear Machine,' as well as on your cover, you use the innocent, maligned bat to suggest creepy evil," a reader complained to liberal magazine the Nation. "I think you owe it to bats and to the balance of nature dependent on their voracious insectivorous behavior (at least for the species you depict) to issue an apology."

There you have it, folks -- the State of the Union, 2007: You can't even insult a bat without somebody firing off an irate letter. No wonder magazine editors preferred to sojourn in the nostalgic glow of 1957 or 1967 or 1977.

Washington Post
Tim Graham's picture