Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Magazine-Training Sarah Palin

During her famous (some would call it infamous, most would call it shocking) performance in an interview with CBS news anchor Katie Couric last fall, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was asked what newspapers and magazines she read to stay informed about the world:

Palin: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

Couric: What, specifically?

Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

Couric: Can you name a few?

Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

"All of them"? "Any of them?" I think we all drew the same and probably the correct conclusion: She doesn't read, or if she reads, she doesn't read enough. And she didn't answer with the bratty response of the Web 2.0 generation that she doesn't read magazines because she gets all the information she needs from Twitter and blogs, so I think we can assume that's not her answer.

I have thought she'd have been better off making up the names of a half-dozen publications, and if Couric claimed ignorance of those titles, just mention that they're regional Alaskan public affairs periodicals or some such. If you can't lie successfully to a TV anchor, how can we expect you to negotiate with Putin and Berlusconi? Her staff would have found that easier to spin than the answer she actually gave to Couric.

Now that Palin has decided her time is too precious to waste by serving the remainder of her one term in the governor's office, we can assume she'll have a lot of time to catch up on her reading. Therefore, I present a list of magazines to which the politician with national aspirations might do well to subscribe. Note: These are not necessarily magazines I endorse -- in fact, some of them I can't stand -- but they are each here for a real reason.

The Economist: This fast-growing libertarian newsweekly will not only keep her informed about the world with bite-sized reports, but it will also introduce her to the fact that people can have conservative, pro-business views while still letting other people live their lives the way they want.

Christianity Today: What, you can be a conservative Christian and be more thoughtful than the retail anti-intellectual version we're shown day-in and day-out in this country? Turns out that, Yes, you can.

The Financial Times: It's a thin paper, so it won't take long to read. But it'll give her a good sense of world politics and business from a perspective you rarely get in the United States. Rupert Murdoch is not the source of all information ...

BBC Focus: This nice big colorful magazine reports on science in an exciting (and did I say "colorful"?) fashion that will teach her all kinds of cool things about this world.

Reason: Where have the Ayn Randians been for the past few decades? Putting out this brash political journal. She'll read some refreshingly different ways to make her points other than winking and slandering opponents.

The New York Review of Books: I know, even if by some weird chance Palin picked up the other magazines on this list, there's no way she'd pick up this bastion of the Big Apple's liberal intelligentsia. But if she really wants to learn what the smart folks are thinking, she should read a few issues; she'll find they're much deeper and less left-wing than she might have thought.

That should be enough for now. In short, governor, head for your nearest Borders -- the bookstore kind, not the national kind.
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