Dispatches from NYC
Glamour’s Republican Slant
By Pauline Millard
Mar 20, 2008

Month after month Glamour magazine serves up the same glossy brand of McFeminism that it has for years. It’s never exactly empowered me, but it once swayed me to look into a mutual fund.  Like most women, I take it for what it is: fun fluff to be read on the subway or while you’re getting your hair done. It tries to bring the “issues” to women, which usually entails a poorly-written feature about healthcare or identity theft. News is never broken in the pages of Glamour.

This month I was intrigued by a piece about Killeen, Texas, which apparently has the highest number of war widows in the country. I thought it would be about how a town of war widows copes on a day-to-day basis, but the piece was mostly about changes to military survivor benefits, which were updated almost three years ago. And we wonder why print is dying.

The piece took a creepy turn about halfway through when the author, Stephen Fried, recreated a scene in which the war widows confronted President Bush during a base visit in 2005. I was shocked that a group of women could even be polite to the man who made up a war that ultimately killed their spouses and left them fighting for benefits, but I don’t come from a military family so I don’t understand that sort of allegiance. What shook me was the sympathetic light Fried portrayed Bush in, as if the president was suddenly the compassionate conservative he claimed to be eight years ago, before he got the country into this Mideast mess.

According to the piece, Bush cupped the women’s faces in his hands, kissed them on the cheek and assured them that their lack of benefits was unacceptable, which they were. If the Bush administration had had any kind of exit strategy, the president should have known this at the start of the war, not two years into it. It’s not like he’s the Commander In Chief or anything. The payout for a military death hadn’t been changed in decades. It has since been changed to $100,000 with an optional $400,000 insurance benefit, which most soldiers choose. Perhaps the women of Killeen had a lot to do with those changes, but to portray Bush as some sort of knight in shining in armor in the middle of a war that he created for no reason is insulting to everyone, especially the women of Killeen. Bush is directly responsible for the death of every soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to portray him as anything less than an incompetent leader is just bad journalism.

This isn’t the first time Glamour has aroused Republican suspicion. A few months ago they interviewed the First Lady and the twins, for apparently no topical reason other than to fill some pages. Shortly after that they did a large piece about Jenna Bush and her best friend around the time that Jenna’s book came out.  It’s a strange turn the magazine is taking, especially since other magazines in the Conde Nast stable, such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, are so vastly liberal. Where are checks and balances at 4 Times Square?

Pandering to the Bushes is a great way to alienate your readers, especially in an election year and at a time when most of the conservative base is distancing itself from President Bush. After all, look who’s going to get the Republican presidential nomination – John McCain! Four years ago the GOP thought McCain was too moderate to be backed, and now it seems like he’s just what the party needs before they lose any more of their constituency.

According to Glamour’s media kit, they have roughly 2.3 million readers with a median age of about 33. That’s an enormous audience to reach on a monthly basis, but it also provides a great opportunity to enlighten women. I’m not sure why Glamour is suddenly courting a conservative readership – at a time when it is very unfashionable to be a Republican -- but they’re not even focusing on the right ones. The magazine has an enormous opportunity to bring real political knowledge to their female base, but it’s an opportunity they seem to be squandering.

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