Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Good Kind Of Trivial

Was the world waiting with bated breath for Slate articles on the twin topics of car horns and tied college football games? No. Did I enjoy such articles? Yes. Here, I think, are two perfect examples of the fluffy but satisfying Slate article. The keys are: 1) the authors don't treat the subject matter as something more important than it really is; 2) they supplement their fluff with some impressively thorough research, so the pieces are not actually completely devoid of informative value.

In all honesty, I've been enjoying Slate a little more than usual lately. Perhaps this is not completely unrelated to the fact that we have a new and intriguingly energetic president preparing to take office. It's like someone finally pouring super-strength Drano down a toilet that has been clogged for eight years. Here, then, are some other recent Slate favorites:

1) Why Is Obama Our First Black President?: Kids' questions about his victory, and their parents' attempts to answer - Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson

2) Don't get Depressed, It's Not 1929: Why All Those Great Depression Analogies Are Wrong - Daniel Gross

Well that's a relief!

3) Obama's Reagan Democrats: They weren't crazy about Obama, but they voted for him anyway. Now what do they want? - John Dickerson

Favorite part: "Mark Parowski, who described himself as a 'hard-core Republican,' didn't pick Obama until the moment he was in the election booth. His wife had been to Obama's last rally in Manassas, Va., the night before, along with 90,000 others, and said it sounded as if Obama was talking right to her in her living room. His disgust with Republicans was a big factor in his vote, Parowski said, but he also saw backing Obama as a chance to make a generational change."

I can just imagine this Mr. Parowski, muttering to himself only moments after leaving the election booth: "I reached over and began pulling the level for McCain...and I...I...just...couldn' it!"

4) Do You Want Gravy On Your Palin?: Ammunition for Your Holiday Political Spats - John Dickerson

I could see the validity in each side of these arguments. Some of the more tantalizing:

Hillary at State

Great idea: She knows the issues, won't be afraid to tell Obama what she thinks, and is the perfect embodiment of American ideals of opportunity and service.

Horrible idea: Drama! She'll put her interests above the president's. Bill's conflicts of interest will be impossible to overcome. Powerful women don't do well in the Middle East.

Will a Woman Ever Become President?

Sure: Hillary's campaign was a thorough mess, her husband was off message constantly, and yet she still almost beat Obama.

Not for a while: Geraldine Ferraro was right—in politics, it's harder to be a woman than a black man. It's still a sexist world. Just look how terribly everyone treated Sarah Palin.

Bush Is the Worst President of My Lifetime

Born before 1932: Son, let me tell you about a man named Herbert Hoover.

Born between 1932 and 1974: You think he was worse than that paranoid liar Nixon? There have been no attacks since 9/11. Iraq is turning around and may become a beacon for democracy in the Middle East. Bush is like Truman: unpopular now, but history will vindicate him.

Born after 1974: No need to elaborate. Use the time to get a second helping of pie.

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