TMQ spends bye week with some light reading

Tue, Nov 22
11:47
AM ET

This is the Tuesday Morning Quarterback bye week -- the regular column returns in all its zany glory on November 29th. Here's an item to remind you TMQ exists.

Among the Old Issues: Your columnist thinks The Atlantic Monthly is the country's best and most important magazine. My 30-year association with The Atlantic as a staff writer, then as national correspondent, and now as a contributing editor is a source of considerable pride. That The Atlantic even makes a modest profit is confirmation that readers still care about the written word.

But piles of old magazines must be dealt with. Recently, I went through 30 years of back issues stacked in my office, saving some and pitching others.

I was struck by how many issues from the 1980s, when the storied William Whitworth was editor, contained articles that remain wholly relevant. One cover depicted Congress as a gigantic baby having a fit with its rattle: that article could have run yesterday. When I was a young writer, Whitworth told me his goal was to produce a magazine you could discover in a box in the attic decades later, and still want to read. The Atlantic Monthly achieves that goal, while most magazines have a relevancy shelf-life of maybe a week.

Impressed as I was by my afternoon reviewing old Atlantics -- I'll get to the best in a moment -- I was equally surprised by how many of the magazine's past covers were way off base. The Atlantic Monthly has the nation's smartest writers and sharpest editors, yet still rolls gutter balls. Consider some cover headlines:

August 1987: "THE DECLINE OF AMERICA"

Historian Paul Kennedy declares the country spiraling downhill in military might and international influence. A quarter century later, American power has never been greater.

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