Jim Webb Has Been Haunted By His “Women Can’t Fight” Story—the Headline Was Good for the Magazine, Not So Good for the Writer

White House Mulls Jim Webb,
 Ex-Democratic Senator, as Next Defense Secretary

Marine officer Jim Webb in Vietnam.

From the NYTimes story:

In a 1979 opinion article in Washingtonian magazine titled “Women Can’t Fight,” Mr. Webb wrote that allowing women into the military—specifically in combat positions—would harm national defense. The article would haunt him throughout his political career, despite his changing views on the subject.
Here are two earlier About Editing and Writing posts that add background to the “Women Can’t Fight” headline and story:

Linguistic Traffic Jams and Honking Words

From “The Most Memorable Lines That Made It Into The Times This Year”:

By Jeff Giles, author, in his review of Sean Penn’s first novel, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”:

For every perfect, plain-spoken sentence (“It is on that couch where Bob feels safest, almost embraced”) there are dozens of linguistic traffic jams where you can almost hear the words honking at each other to get out of the way.
By Choire Sicha, Styles editor, in a Tech We’re Using column in which he describes his codependent relationship with his smartphone:

A Vice President Who Would Have Loved Uber

My first official act as a private citizen after 8 years in public service….downloaded !


In 1968 I was a Congressional Fellow in the office of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and after he lost the presidential election to Richard Nixon I helped him with some of his writing—mostly a weekly column that went to newspapers around the country.

He had been Vice President for four years and had learned to enjoy the benefits of Secret Service protection—including being driven everywhere.

What 2019 Will Bring Is Anybody’s Guess—What Do You Think Will Happen?

By Mike Feinsilber

In 1997, guests at our New Year’s Eve dinner were asked to predict how many of the 55 Republicans then in the Senate would vote to convict Bill Clinton of impeachable offenses. The answer: 50 did vote to convict on one count, 45 on a second count. No Democrats did. Sixty-seven votes were needed to remove the president so Clinton remained in office.

In 2006, with widespread predictions of chaos, our guests were asked what sort of trouble Y2K would bring. Most rightly said it would be only a minor nuisance.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review Makes Fun of TV and the Times But Goes Easy on Bezos and the Post

Dave Barry again looks at what made the year so stupid and funny.

Every December Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry takes a “Year in Review” look back at the year’s moments he can make fun of; the column also runs in the Washington Post Magazine. Last year Dave had fun with Jeff Bezos, the richest-man-in-the-world who owns Amazon.com and since 2013 the Washington Post.

Amazon, aka the Death Star of Retail, becomes even larger and more powerful when it announces plans to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, or enough money to buy nearly four pounds of top sirloin at current Whole Foods prices.

A Compelling Lead

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In a glass conference room at its California headquarters, Facebook is taking on the bonfires of hate and misinformation it has helped fuel across the world, one post at a time.

Posted by Mike Feinsilber: From a story, “Inside Facebook’s Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech,” in the New York Times.

Robert Allbritton and Politico: How He’s Doing Now Plus a Look Back at How He Started

Headline, deck, and opening of a 12/18/18 Vanity Fair story about Politico founder Robert Allbritton:


Despite some management upheaval, Politico has apparently been able to avoid the financial panic that has seized many of its peers. The company says it made $113 million in 2018, the highest revenue number in its history, and roughly double its 2013 total.

Editors, Ruth Whitney Said, Sometimes Have to Play Lord High Executioner

Glamour Magazine to Cease Regular Print Publication

New York Times, November 20, 2018

Unmentioned in the coverage of Glamour’s demise was one of the great American editors—Ruth Whitney, editor of Glamour from 1967 until shortly before she died in 1999. Ruth was from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, about 20 miles from Appleton, where I grew up, so when we saw each other at meetings of the American Society of Magazine Editors we always found time to talk.

When Newspapers Wish You a Merry Christmas But Then Warn You to Be Wary of Santa Claus. Also of Your Relatives.

A photo with Santa is still a childhood rite of passage for many Americans, a cultural tradition as synonymous with Christmas as eggnog and gift exchanges. Every year, photos of scared infants and toddlers wailing on Santa’s lap make the rounds on social media and in family text-message chains.

Many parents don’t see a problem with participating in what they view as an innocent tradition. But some have begun questioning the way the culture approaches photos with Santa amid the #MeToo movement and a national conversation over how to teach young children about consent and physical boundaries.

Through Rain, Sleet, and Snow, Our Mailman Is a Foot Soldier in Washington’s Battle Against Corruption

Only two people faithfully come through our Washington, D.C., neighborhood—the person who delivers the Washington Post every morning, and the man who delivers the mail every day but Sunday.

The newspaper is tossed on the front lawn from a speeding SUV driven by people I’ve never met or talked with. That doesn’t stop the Post from including holiday envelopes with December papers suggesting that maybe we’d like to tip the carrier—the word carrier evoking the time when neighborhood kids walked the street and put the paper by the front door.