Friday, December 27, 2002

Selected excerpts from the January 2003 Harper's Index

Uh-oh.  Is Harper’s catching on to Smarter Harper’s?  This month’s Index is curiously free of the usual conspicuous liberal bias that escapes the purview of Al Gore and E.J. Dionne.  Not much to rebut this month, but there’s always room for clarifications.  Besides, I’m 100% positive that next month’s Index will include the words “Enron” and “Trent Lott” along with some amorphous swipe at Israel, so we’ll be back in business.

One other aside: Lewis Lapham’s “Notebook” essay this month is particularly bizarre, even by his tendentious standards.  This month, he compares the ascendant Republicans with Imperial Rome, running through his usual litany of class warfare and conspiracy theories (think Ashcroft = Caligula and you’ll see what I mean).  The whole thing smells like a peevish, didactic, regurgitation of a sophomore Classics course.  What makes the Nero-Bush comparison all the more risible is that last month, Lapham was placing great faith in the American people (“The American citizenry isn’t as dumb as the American elites condescendingly like to think and believe…”).  Now that the midterm elections went decidedly against his worldview, Lapham concludes that we live under an invisible Caesarism.  Crazy.

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