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Comments: Week of June 11, 2012

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1. “For anyone still starry-eyed about Obama,” John Heilemann wrote in a story on the president’s reelection ­campaign, “the months ahead will provide a bracing revelation about what he truly is: not a savior, not a saint, not a man above the fray, but a brass-knuckled, pipe-hitting, red-in-tooth-and-claw brawler determined to do what is necessary to stay in power” (Hope: the ­Sequel,” June 4). At his Wall Street Journal Lost in America blog, James Taranto called it “an intimate, and not altogether flattering, look into Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.” Others found the hard-nosed campaign strategy not just ugly but inevitable. “Obama cannot run on his winning record, so he has to divide this country,” wrote one commenter at ­nymag.com. “Fear of the other guy ­represents most of what they have to sell,” argued Kyle Wingfield at the Atlanta ­Journal-Constitution. “It comes as no surprise that the Obama reelection campaign plans to continue with a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy,” agreed Christopher Santarelli at the Blaze. “What is somewhat shocking is how shameless the Obama campaign team is in showing their devious hand.” But some readers on the left didn’t find the strategy so devious. “The alliance between Wall Street and the Republicans represents a toxic mix of amorality, recklessness, and incompetence,” wrote one commenter at nymag.com. “You bet we have grounds to fear them coming to power again; who is to say we will even be able to get out of the next mess they create?” Heather Digby Parton at ­Mother Jones agreed. “Although that’s a much punier vision than the soaring promise of hope and change, I find it refreshingly realistic,” she wrote. “The campaign says the president learned his lesson just in time for the election and now he feels ‘liberated.’ Certainly his rhetoric is sharper. What’s clear from this article is that Obama Campaign 2.0 is sure it is in for a very tough fight.” Others argued that the case for reelection was, actually, pretty easy to make: “Bush sunk us into a recession. Obama is leading us out of it, despite extreme partisan resistance from a Republican House.”


2. “Did Arthur Sulzberger’s hot lady friend drive out the CEO of the New York Times? No, she did not.” Although “it was a scenario that appealed to those relish­ing a catfight between ‘Arthur’s women,’ so let’s talk about it anyway,” Choire Sicha snipped at the Awl, in a post suggesting that the story by Joe Hagan on the ouster of Janet Robinson indulged in the same speculation it purported to debunk (A New York Times Whodunit,” June 4). “An epic piece,” wrote Simon Dumenco at AdAge. “Devour it right now!” At Forbes, Jeff Bercovici argued that the bottom line was the most important part of the Robinson story but not all of it. “Robinson’s job was ultimately a casualty of the company’s declining performance, [Sulzberger’s cousin and Robinson’s rival Michael] Golden’s ambitions, and the financial demands of other members of the Sulzberger family accustomed to living off the company’s dividends. Whatever the exact mix of factors, they didn’t quite add up to an ironclad case against a CEO who had led the Times in a forward-thinking initiative—its adoption of a digital pay wall—that most in the newspaper industry regard as largely successful.” Other readers had even less sympathy for the Sulzbergers. “The most amazing thing about @joehagansays’ NYT story is the extent to which the ­Sulzberger fam has treated a public co. like a trust fund,” tweeted Elon Green. At nymag.com, one reader was reminded of the bumbling family business in Arrested ­Development. “OMG,” he wrote of the Sulz­bergers, “they’re the real-life Bluths!”

3. If a child begins to think of himself or herself as transgendered in elementary school, Jesse Green asked in a story describing the dilemmas facing such children’s parents, is it okay to give the child hormone therapy to forestall puberty for a smoother gender transition at 18? (S/He,” June 4). “Transgenderism may be the last, thinnest edge of the wedge of liberation,” wrote J. Bryan Lowder at Slate’s XX blog—“a kind of final liberal frontier” that both demands our attention and befuddles those trying to negotiate it. “These parents are the vanguard for anyone who believes that people should have the right to control their own bodies, and as they learn from and negotiate a way forward with their brave children, the rest of us should be taking copious notes.” At nymag.com, commenters were also moved by the struggles of both the trans children and their conflicted but supportive parents. “I have to give these parents so much props,” wrote one. “I would not know what to do.”


This story appeared in the June, 11, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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