Political conventions have been an obsession of mine since my parents made the spectacularly unwise decision to dispatch me to summer camp in the midst of one. They atoned by sending me the convention issue of NEWSWEEK, which I devoured on the banks of Lake Ocoee in eastern Tennessee. (I was a terrible camper, and not just because of my gloom that political history was being made while I was being taught to canoe, a skill I have never since had occasion to use, even if I had mastered it, which I did not.) For sentimental as well as substantive reasons, then, I have always loved our preconvention coverage.
This issue is especially fun. Nigel Parry's cover and Charles Ommanney's behind-the-scenes images of the Obamas and Bidens in their first moments together as a ticket are historic; I am grateful to Simon Barnett (who was in Springfield for the occasion), Susanne Miklas and Michelle Molloy, who did terrific work on deadline to bring them to you. Most of the time I try to use this real estate in the magazine to make a point about the news or about how we have covered a story. This week, though, I would simply like to say thank you. Many hands went into the making of this issue, which, along with next week's edition on John McCain, represents a milestone in our campaign coverage. The conventions in Denver and in St. Paul give us a chance to assess the nominees (and their new running mates) anew as the last, frenetic, decisive weeks come upon us. With its human drama and real-life consequences, politics lies at the heart of our enterprise. I am grateful to Dan Klaidman, who supervises our campaign coverage, and to our editors, reporters, writers, contributors, photographers and designers in the magazine and at Newsweek.com who worked on this issue: Jonathan Alter, Patty Alvarez, Julia Baird, Jeffrey Bartholet, Bret Begun, Robin Brown-Friedel, Mary Carmichael, Eleanor Clift, Ellis Cose, Kathy Deveny, Beth Ferraro, Howard Fineman, Devin Gordon, Alex Ha, George Hackett, Kathy Jones, Erika Kinetz, Ignacio Kleva, Mark Miller, Brian No, David Noonan, Rebecca Pratt, Anna Quindlen, Bruce Ramsay, Dan Revitte, Debra Rosenberg, Allison Samuels, Robert J. Samuelson, Karen Fragala Smith, Elise Soukup, Nancy Stadtman, Carl Sullivan, Jonathan Torgovnik, Tom Watson and April Yee. I am especially grateful to Scott Johnson, Sarah Kliff, Lisa Miller, Jessica Ramirez and Richard Wolffe for their reporting on Obama and his family's history.
This week also marks the debut of a few new contributors to our pages. Jacob Weisberg begins a biweekly column, and Princeton historian Sean Wilentz offers one of the first of a series of occasional essays. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, weighs in on the Russian-Georgian conflict. And the novelist Claire Messud, who is joining us to write mostly about culture and the arts, went in search of the Obama mystique and found that his magnetism is rooted less in flash than in his wonkiness.
Elsewhere, Lally Weymouth interviews Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the late Benazir Bhutto. In a special late-summer treat, Steve Tuttle reports on the reaction to a NEWSWEEK piece he wrote denouncing … Crocs. Amid wars on two fronts and economic unease at home, it is somehow refreshing that people have the wherewithal to plunge into passionate debate over rubber shoes. (Steve, Susan McVea and Gail Tacconelli are managing the complexities of the convention for us. I am hoping they have Crocs for everyone.)
We will see you this week on Newsweek .com, with daily coverage and Webcasts, the latter produced by Tammy Haddad and The Washington Post's Chet Rhodes. If only we had had the Internet back at Camp Ocoee.