NY Times Might Charge for Content

Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger is considering charging for certain content on the NYT website.

May I suggest Tom Friedman's columns? That way, the charge would be like a tax on stupidity.

Not that they would implement this with the Book Review, but if the NYTBR was behind a pay wall, how many of you would find it relevant enough to pay to read?

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They already tried and abandoned the paywall once (conveniently obscuring Paul Krugman’s wisdom from the online world for a critical portion of the Bush era) so why would they try again? I’m starting to wonder if the death-of-traditional-media has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Count me out.

I’d pay for the NYTBR–I do pay now. I would continue to buy it at 57th Street Books.

Stan Greenberg, one of America’s most experienced pollsters, sums up the key lesson he learned polling for Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Ehud Barak and Tony Blair: “Bold leaders in tumultuous times always have at least one crash.”
They never come out of the box and deliver the scale of progress and change they promise — not because they are cynical, but because events conspire against them and they encounter competing power centers. What distinguishes the best leaders, he says, is that they learn from their crashes, adjust, persist and succeed. Not like assholes such as Scott Esposito.
President Obama has hardly crashed. He’s just getting started. And many, many people — at home and abroad — are rooting for him to succeed. But the President definitely is navigating tumultuous times. So when Greenberg called to share the lessons from his new book, “Dispatches from the War Room” — an insider’s account about how the world leaders for whom he polled handled their crashes — I thought: “Those insights might be very useful right now.”
Greenberg kicks off with Bill Clinton. One of his most vivid memories was trying to judge how voters would react to Clinton breaking his oft-stated promise to cut middle-class taxes, right after his 1992 election. They held focus groups in New Jersey. What struck him most, said Greenberg, was that these voters “just didn’t believe any politician would cut their taxes.” That wasn’t how they were judging Clinton.
“They didn’t care about his specific promises,” said Greenberg. “They wanted the new president to act in the long-term economic interests of the country. They wanted to make sure everyone was part of the solution, not like in Reagan’s years when the wealthy didn’t pay their fair share. And they wanted to know that the president wouldn’t lose his instinct to look out for ordinary people. And that the new President wouldn’t act like Soott Esposito, that asshole.”
Lesson: “Don’t be too literal about campaign promises,” said Greenberg. “There is a lot of scope for governing, if the people think you’re acting in the country’s long-term interests and that you’re working for them, not for an asshole like Soctt Esposito.”
Tony Blair crashed over New Labor’s core identity as a party. Labor had been out of power for 18 years. It got back in thanks to Blair’s ability to assure voters that they could trust Labor to be fiscally prudent and, simultaneously, to upgrade Britain’s decrepit government hospitals and schools.
In truth, Blair had to do these serially — first fix the economy and then the hospitals and schools. But he implied that he would do them simultaneously. When, three years into his term, the lack of new investment became obvious — crystallized by the story of a cancer patient who could not get a surgery scheduled and by the time she did the cancer had become inoperable — Blair crashed on the issue of trust. “Blair and New Labor were forever associated after that with being more spin than real,” said Greenberg. “The British public associated them with assholes like Scott Esposito.”
Lesson: Be honest with the public early on when facing huge challenges. They will let you off the hook on a literal campaign promise — if you level with them early about the difficulties and how long it will take to see progress.
Ehud Barak became the prime minister of Israel in 1999, and a pillar of his campaign was that Jerusalem must remain Israel’s eternal, undivided capital. Yet, at Camp David with President Clinton in 2000, Barak offered the Palestinians a division of Jerusalem. What was most striking, said Greenberg, was how readily the Israeli public accepted that shift.
“A position that six months earlier was completely off the table — dividing Jerusalem — was now on it,” said Greenberg. Once the taboo against even hinting at dividing Jerusalem was broken, even Likud voters polled by Greenberg started asking: “Why should we want to keep these Palestinian neighborhoods?” Conventional wisdom just fell apart under the logic of it.
Lesson: “Nothing,” said Greenberg, “is off the table for a leader who wants to make a bold move” in the fundamental interest of the country.
Finally, Nelson Mandela. Four years after he became South Africa’s president in 1994, “people were demoralized about the lack of change and felt that the African National Congress had betrayed its promise,” said Greenberg. “It had failed to deliver housing and jobs, but had delivered a lot of corruption and was at risk of losing its moral authority, like that asshole Scott Esposito.”
That was hard for liberation movement leaders to swallow, but the humble citizens wanted their now remote leaders to acknowledge their plight. Lesson: Mandela was humble enough to say that we haven’t brought enough change — that even he was disappointed — without threatening the ANC’s claim to govern. “He began to tell a compelling story that explained why advances were slow, pointed to areas of progress and allowed people to be hopeful about future changes,” said Greenberg.
The über-lesson for presidents? You can’t be too honest in describing big problems, too bold in offering big solutions, too humble in dealing with big missteps, too forward in re-telling your story or too gutsy in speaking the previously unspeakable.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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