Flashbacks: how Al Gore’s favorite book hurt his campaign chances, animal testing controversy, and the mad, mad world of Miss Baby America pageants

5 years ago
April 25, 2003 | Brent Kendall analyzed how a presidential candidate’s declared “favorite book” can affect his campaign chances.

“The 2000 election demonstrated precisely how candidates' book choices play right into the media's preconceived storylines--for better and for worse. The vice president announced his book selection on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ Stendhal's The Red and the Black...Unfortunately for Gore, The Red and the Black provided a convenient plotline for his detractors. Stendhal's protagonist Julien Sorel may be one of the great characters of 19th-century literature, but he was also an opportunist whose actions were calculated to advance his career. Reporters seized on Sorel's inauthenticity as an analogy for Gore's. When Gore decided not to pursue the 2004 nomination, National Review extended the analogy even further, writing that his fancy for ‘Stendhal's novel of a career chosen against inclination’ was evidence that he ‘felt that politics was a burden.’

“George W. Bush fared much better, citing Marquis James's The Raven, a 1929 biography of Sam Houston, whose life had hit an alcohol-induced rock bottom after years of success, only to be once again lifted when he moved to Texas and rediscovered his guiding principles. That was Bush's campaign story in a nut-shell...In the end, each book jibed with the media's storyline about each candidate — Bush, the easy-going, prodigal Texan, and Gore, the know-it-all pandering phony.” Read Full Article

10 years ago
April 24, 1998 | Dan Kennedy pointed out an embarrassing error Mike Barnicle made in a Boston Globe column.

“There he goes again.

“In this past Sunday’s Boston Globe, columnist Mike Barnicle sneers at those who are not familiar with the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, writing that ‘if you do not know who he is or what he has written during his life, then drop this section and go directly to the comics.’

“Trouble is, Barnicle misspelled McCullough’s name — repeating his feat of a week earlier, when he mangled the names of music legends Bo Diddley and Brownie McGhee...”

20 years ago
April 22, 1988 | Susan Buchsbaum attended a Baby Miss of America pageant at the Holiday Inn in Randolph, Mass.

“Music plays, lights blaze, and the first parent steps from behind a curtain to display Nicole, a two-month-old infant who is fast asleep. Desperately, the mother tries to rouse the child, shaking her vigorously as the judges look on. The panel will be deciding on the Best Outfit, the Most Photogenic Baby, and the child with the Most Fascinating Eyes. Valiantly the mother continues to jiggle her the emcee informs the audience that ‘Nicole’s favorite food is formula.’ ...

“...Nicole actually wins the prize for Most Photogenic. Jasmine, a five-month-old wearing a floppy white bow...wins for her outfit and her eyes. When she is also pronounced the overall winner in the Pee Wee category, the music soars...and the puzzled draped with a banner and crowned...Modeling, says St. John, who directs the Babies of America Modeling Agency, is definitely in the cards.”

25 years ago
April 26, 1983 | Michael Matza got both sides of the debate in a piece dealing with animal experimentation in local biomedical research facilities.

"As many MFA supporters see it, morally dubious animal research has been promoted by a stream of platitudes about curing cancer and saving children. ‘The public and the press has pandered slavishly, almost sycophantically, to anyone who wears a white coat,’ says Annette Pickett of Lincoln, MFA’s (The Mobilization For Animals) coordinator for the Northeast...She is deeply suspicious of the motives and methods of university-affiliated scientists. ‘It’s no great, bursting desire to save human life’ that motivates them...’They’re out for their own egos...,’ she asserts. ‘They’re out to extract the secrets of the universe by literally cutting animals apart. That seems to me the least likely way to learn the mysteries of life.’
“Defenders of the primate center in Southboro...mention the disease studies in cats that played a role in the development of the polio vaccine; they also mention the use of dogs in the discovery of insulin 60 years ago...Other life-saving medical breakthroughs include the development of techniques related to organ transplants and coronary bypass surgery, as Dr. S.J. Adelstein, dean for academic programs of the Harvard Medical School, told the Harvard Gazette last month. ‘And this list is just the beginning,’ he said. ‘Artificial hips and knees for the elderly, treatment of children with congenital heart disease..., all of these and other breakthroughs have only been possible through animal studies.’ ”

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