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Comments: Week of October 3, 2011


1. In his cover story (The Tsuris,” September 26), John Heilemann made the case that supporters of Israel should realize the president is the best friend the country has right now. Many readers, ­especially those on the right, did not take the advice too kindly. At the Weekly ­Standard website, Daniel Halper called it ­“pathetic”: “How credulous an Obama apologist do you have to be to believe that? It’s one thing to argue what the Obama administration has itself argued when it’s being candid—that it’s ­correcting a pro-Israel tilt of previous ­administrations. It’s another to pretend Obama is Israel’s BFF.” “Heilemann’s narrative has serious flaws,” wrote Martin Krossel at Frum­Forum, a watercooler website for apostate Republicans. “Start with the cheap shots. Where’s the evidence for the contention that some Jews mistrusted Obama because he was black? Is Heilemann trying to tar critics of the administration’s Israel policy as racists?” On Twitter, Commentary editor John Podhoretz also voiced doubts about the accuracy of the story. “I love Philip K. Dick,” he wrote. “Your piece has the same relation to reality as he did!” Other readers, especially on the left, argued exactly the opposite. “Obama has had Israel’s back over and over and over since he took office. Heilemann provides chapter and verse in his piece. But for conservatives, this isn’t enough,” wrote Kevin Drum on the Mother Jones website, dismissing the criticism as “just another movement conservative attack line. Obama is weak, Obama wants to raise your taxes, Obama doesn’t understand business, Obama hates Israel, etc., etc.” “Obama is about to severely damage America’s standing in the Middle East—and thus damage a central foreign policy goal of gaining more legitimacy in the region as it convulses and shifts—by ­vetoing the upcoming Palestinian effort to achieve full member status at the U.N.,” wrote The Troubadour at the Daily Kos. “And why will Obama do so? Because he’s going to bat for Israel. Again … And for that, he’s being characterized by the right as anti-Israel.”

2. Art-savvy readers were eager to ­continue the debate over a disputed “new” work by late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat found on a South Williamsburg bodega door (The Devil on the Door,” by Liza Ghorbani, September 26). “To me it looks exactly halfway between Basquiat and [Phil] Frost. Frost’s characters usually have more detail and form and are more ‘finished,’ and this piece has the looseness and energy of Basquiat, but overall the thin neck, wide head, and circular eyes are Frost-esque, rather than reminiscent of a Basquiat character,” wrote one commenter at ­Another was more sure: “phil frost. Without a shadow of a doubt.” “What’s slightly ridiculous is the part where they are looking for the hand of the artist in the work,” wrote a third. “I can see how the lettering and theme are important, but this—a spray-painted line? Has energy?” Others found the process of authentication not just dubious but creepy. “Something weirdly religious about all this,” wrote one. “Just because somebody was an artist and a drug ­addict doesn’t make them a martyr.”

3. Soap-opera lovers and design geeks freaked over Willa Paskin’s plot map for long-running, just-canceled soap opera All My Children (All My Marriages, ­Divorces, Affairs, Murders, and Resurrections,” September 26). “An insanely comprehensive flowchart,” wrote Amelia ­McDonell-Parry at blog The Frisky. “Props.” On Twitter, @dsorbara called the feature “the most epic graphic I’ve ever seen”; @jetgirl178 declared it “the greatest PDF ever produced.” On, commenters shared fond memories of the show: “AMC was the first soap I watched, starting while I was in high school … I continued to watch through college, single days, law school, marriage, bed rest with my twins,” wrote one. “However, after all these years, you would think they would give these actors a more dignified exit.” Another had similar memories: “I haven’t watched in years, nor could I stand to, but it makes me kind of sad that it’s ending nonetheless. I remember summers and ‘sick’ days when I was a kid, hooked on the ‘Natalie’s at the bottom of a well and her sister is impersonating her’ story line.” We also heard from one wistful veteran of the show. “I was a 21-year-old production assistant on All My Children during its first year, joining up during episode seven. The company was run by many highly talented and competent women writers and producers. Scripts arrived weekly from Agnes Nixon, the creator, and the cast included some prominent screen actresses, e.g., Ruth Warrick. These were groundbreaking times for women TV ­professionals, and the show dared to dramatize around contemporary topics like divorce, abuse, race, and addictions. Soap-opera spine, yes, but I am proud to have been part of AMC.”

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