The Magazine

Oprah and Harvey Mansfield, and more.

The Harvard professor makes the cover of Oprah's magazine.

Mar 27, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 26 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Oprah Heart Harvey

The Scrapbook salutes Harvey Mans-field, who is not only our favorite Harvard professor but also the first Weekly Standard contributor that we're aware of to make it onto the cover of Oprah magazine, thanks (ironically?) to his new book Manliness.

Mansfield has recently been on the interview circuit, introducing a new generation to some old wisdom. We've read four of these profiles, and they're all worth perusing, since Mansfield has an enviable ability to respond to all manner of questions with interesting, witty, and thought-provoking answers.

The interviewers in the March 2 Harvard Salient and the March 4 Wall Street Journal were both friendly and penetrating. One actually could learn something about Mansfield's (complicated) take on manliness from them. The Salient, as befits a student paper, homed in on the local angle: Was ousted Harvard president Larry Summers deficient in manliness? "He's a manly fellow," replied Mansfield, "but he made his administration too much of a one-man show. He should have gathered a party of defenders and supporters in the administration itself and in the faculty. But instead, he went on his own, and by his many apologies, left his defenders discouraged and dismayed. But he had a manly project, to renew Harvard, to make it great. Right now, Harvard is wealthy, famous, and prestigious. But it isn't great." Journal interviewer Naomi Schaefer Riley elicited from Mansfield a sharper judgment on Summers: "He has apologized so much that he looks unmanly."

As was perhaps to be expected, the questions posed in the March 12 New York Times Magazine were embarrassingly silly, but deftly parried. ("So your generally left-leaning colleagues are willing to talk to you? People listen to me, but they don't pay attention to what I say. I should punch them out, but I don't.")

The surprise was the April issue of Oprah magazine. Elizabeth Gilbert's interview was deft, good-humored, and intelligent. And the editors were so impressed with Mansfield's answers that they chose to tease the interview on the cover. ("In Praise of Manly Men--Who are they, where are they, and why do we still want them?") Inside they announce that Mansfield has "written the book--the thoughtful, vexing, and ultimately irresistible book"--on the subject of manliness.

Endorsements don't get much better than that! We trust Yale University Press will be trumpeting that statement in ads in major newspapers and magazines. Meanwhile, we don't want to take sales away from Oprah, so we won't print excerpts (plus, we don't want to anticipate our own review).

The Scrapbook never thought it would be saying this--but real men should buy this month's Oprah. And, of course, buy the book.

Raising the Passive Voice to an Art Form

So apparently it's not just conservatives that the New York Times goes after with unfair photographs. They also go after liberals--if they happen to be on the wrong side of Hillary Clinton. Witness (at right) last week's grotesque cover portrait of Democrat Mark Warner, which occasioned, three days later, this amusing bit of backpedaling:

"The cover photograph in The Times Magazine on Sunday rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who is a possible candidate for the presidency. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon. . . . The film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors." (New York Times "Editors' Note," March 15, 2006.)

Notice, especially, the artful use of the passive voice. According to the Times, the guilty parties were, in order, the photograph, the jacket, the shirt, the tie, and the film.

As Slate's Mickey Kaus observed, "Isn't that like a newspaper saying that the facts changed in transcription and 'the writing altered them further.' Well, OK then!"

Senatorial Metaphors

Don't look now, but we think Charles Schumer just compared Arab businessmen to skinheads.

According to a piece in the New York Observer last week, Schumer's beating the drums to kill the Dubai ports deal "came under fire from many quarters, with some critics suggesting that opposition to the deal was driven by xenophobia or anti-Arab racism. Mr. Schumer heatedly disputes that view. 'Let's say skinheads had bought a company to take over our port,' he said. 'I think the outcry would have been the same.'"

So why exactly do businessmen who happen to be Arabs deserve to be compared with skinheads, Mr. Schumer?

The End of Dutch Multiculturalism

Paul Belien, editor of the Brussels Journal (www.brusselsjournal.com), draws our attention to the new entrance exam for immigrants to the Netherlands.