Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Across the Atlantic, The Economist
Once More Diagnoses Our National Mood

'Nations, like people, occasionally get the blues; and right now the United States, normally the world’s most self-confident place, is glum. Eight out of ten Americans think their country is heading in the wrong direction. The hapless George Bush is partly to blame for this: his approval ratings are now sub-Nixonian. But many are concerned not so much about a failed president as about a flailing nation.'
--from a typically brilliant analysis of the national mood in America, published in the current Economist. The pub keeps impressing us with its stately, sophisticated brilliance, solid writing and reporting and things we just don't find anywhere else. We've enthused over the magazine before (here, here, here, here and here) and will no doubt do so again. I can think of several American pubs that could benefit from studying The Economist with an eye toward making some improvements themselves.


At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can think of a lot of pubs (and bars)that could benefit from studying The Economist. It would certainly elevate the conversations a great deal!

After reviewing the links, I am considering a subscription to the aforementioned source. How many years have I longed for a penetrating, insightful, and well-written source of international news?

Maybe it sounds silly, but it always bugged me that on childhood vacations every year I would watch Canadian news include US stories and weather, and at home our weather maps ended at the US border. I never wanted my Canadain friends to know of my embarassing ignorance of their current events. Decades later, I still have that gut-wrenching feeling that our American narcissistic news lies at the heart of many diplomatic disasters. It is my lowly opinion that a misinformed public drives our vote-dependent politicos.

Is there one publication that stands alone in the huge scope of your "hungry mind" wanderings as a premiere source of news from a more international perspective? I eagerly await your ruminations on this topic.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

There is no one pub for me, but if there was, The Economist might be it. But I'd be hard-pressed to pick from among the top tier of my favorites: Economist, NYTimes, Washington Post, New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Nation, NYObserver, and the BBC website, all of which I've talked about in depth here and linked to plenty over the years. If you even kind of regularly sample from that baker's dozen of outlets, I think you'd be a pretty well-informed person.

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. Maybe one day I will be boldly enabled to have an opinion worth ranting about. 'Til then I will enjoy learning how to dispense dialogue with skill and power from a very good teacher.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I think informed dialogue beats ranting (whether it's the informed or uniformed variety) every day of the week.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

The point made about how American self-regard (narcissism) affects the media as well as everything, and often leads to our blunders on the international stage, is a point very well made. It still shocks me that only a minority of Americans seem to be aware of the rest of the world. I admit I'm unique, having grown up overseas, and traveled a lot since then, both in-country and out of the country. So I've always had a broader view. It gets frustrating sometimes.

I recently spent two weeks in FL. Driving back home through Alabama, for example, was a real shock reminder that most of the US remains rural AND provincial, in spirit if not in geographic actuality. You pass those "America Love It or Leave It" billboards with frequency down there; always makes me think, though, how stupid that idea is, and how anti-Founder it is. The Founders would respond, no doubt, "If there's something you don't like, don't leave, change it!" So much for that idiocy. Still, it can be shocking to a northerner to drive through the Deep South and realize how much jingoism still pervades the general mindset.

The Economist is a mag I used to read weekly, when I lived in the Twin Cities and had ready access to it. It did strike me then as far more insightful than most; although I am not a news junkie, and never have been. Too much has happened in my personal life for me to want to pile on more negativity on a daily basis. And most major events, you cannot avoid hearing about, sooner or later.

But thanks for reminding us of The Economist. It's a very good journal.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

We always knew you were unique in several ways, Art. This is just one more. And yes, that point about how provincial we often are in this country also struck me as a good one. But you make a great point, an important reminder for me especially, that not everyone is or should be a news junkie. That's a useful reminder for me, because I'm pretty provincial about that myself, and easily forget that not everyone is that way, including those who choose to read this blog. But as you say, these days the stories that really matter have a way of eventually coming to our attention one way or the other.


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