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Comments: Week of November 7, 2011

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1. Readers on both sides of the partisan divide were impressed by Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s cover story on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain & Company and the candidate’s role in transforming the American economy while there (“The Romney Economy,” October 31). “Rather amazingly, New York Magazine has published an accurate and thorough account of Mitt Romney’s career at Bain,” wrote Reihan Salam at the National Review’s blog The Agenda, where he applauded Romney’s success in moving American companies away from corporate stability and employee security toward efficiency and shareholder value. “I came away from the article more impressed by Romney than I had been before. Others will, I’m quite confident, see their worst suspicions confirmed, particularly those motivated primarily by anger and anxiety over wage and wealth dispersion.” From the left: “It is a fascinating, if head-­exploding, story,” wrote DailyKos blogger my2petpeeves, while at The American Prospect, Paul Waldman called the profile “the best thing I’ve read about Romney during this election season.” Still, some protested that Romney was much less central to the transformation than the article suggested. “Not to say that Mr Romney was not among those at the forefront of a number of seminal developments in the 1980s and ’90s in the way American corporations were bought, sold and managed,” Will Wilkinson wrote at The Economist’s Democracy in America blog. “But I daresay had Mr Romney really been the one-man force for increased efficiency Mr Wallace-Wells suggests he has been, he’d now be worth a good deal more than $250m … Mr Wallace-Wells gets to politics and policy only at the end of his piece, wherein he discusses the way Mr Romney brings to policymaking the same non-ideological analytical pragmatism he applied in private sector … On these terms, Mr Romney—an efficiency-enhancing, public-policy problem-solver—sounds almost too good to be true.” The cover image, of a 1984 photo of Romney festooned with money, earned notice, too. “Epic New York Magazine Cover,” wrote Zeke Miller at Business Insider. “This speaks for itself.”


2. In an essay on the meaning of Occupy Wall Street, Frank Rich took a historical approach, which readers by and large appreciated (“The Class War Has Begun,” October 31). “While the current media and various constituencies are jockeying to put their spin on what is taking place with OWS and the Tea Party, Rich takes a step back and looks at an historical context for what is now occurring, and, in the process, I think, adds good perspective,” wrote blog MillersTime. At nymag.com, many regular critics of Rich found themselves surprisingly sympathetic this time around. “I am astonished that I managed to read an entire op-ed by Mr. Rich, and I am totally flabbergasted that I actually agreed with most of what he had to say: I also see the next election as a battle of out-of-touch elites that will accomplish nothing that might resolve our current problems,” wrote one commenter. “I’ve never agreed with a syllable of Rich’s, but this article is gold,” wrote another. “We do need a class war, but not between the rich and the poor. It needs to be between the Main-Street-taxpaying-ordinary-American-citizen-who-plays-by-the-rules class and the political elites of both parties and their cronies and supporters who corrupt the system for access to the public treasury.” Other readers found Rich’s perspective a little lacking. “While you covered many aspects of our current struggles, you failed to address the obstructionism of the Right-Winged-Congress,” wrote one. “You seem to lay much blame on President Obama … But I, on the other hand, view him as someone who, as he took office, was presented with multiple issues on many fronts. I believe he has desperately tried to address these: health care, the banks, the car companies, the housing crisis, terrorism, the wars and unemployment. His hands, unfortunately, are continually tied by the likes of the do-nothing Congress whose only goal is to beat him in 2012!”

3. In a profile by Logan Hill, actor Anton Yelchin committed the cardinal publicity sin of irritating his fan base by revealing sides of himself that other young actors obscure with platitudes (“Do I Look Like a Ghoul to You?,” October 31). “I liked him until I read this article,” wrote one commenter at nymag.com. “My God. Maybe the interviewer encouraged him to come off as a pretentious douche,” added another. “Kid sounds like he just discovered Chomsky then had a lot of time on his hands to actually go somewhere with it,” wrote a third. “That’s cool, pretty pretentious sounding, but hey—his little project.” At least a couple of readers, though, came away sympathetic. “I guess I’m the only one who doesn’t think he sounds pretentious. I think he’s curious and likes obscure things and is maybe even a little self-conscious about his interests—he calls himself a freak.” “While I’m not a huge fan of the way he comes off in this interview, I was there once too (not-so-bad ideas, a bit too sure of himself), and I’m a fan of where it means he’ll probably be in a year or two.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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