Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Caught Red (State)-Handed

Back in the '80s I used to enjoy reading "Harper's" magazine. At the time, because I was looking for a job in publishing, I wished there was some genealogical connection between my family and that of the founder of that magazine. No such luck. My Harpers were ne'er-do-well small planters from the Maryland Eastern Shore.

Nowadays, though, I'm pleased to disavow any connection with those other Harpers. It's been more than a decade since I got through a "Harper's" article without losing interest. And now this, from Lewis Lapham

The speeches in Madison Square Garden affirmed the great truths now routinely preached from the pulpits of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal--government the problem, not the solution; the social contract a dead letter; the free market the answer to every maiden's prayer--and while listening to the hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin, I remembered the question that [Richard] Hofstadter didn't stay to answer. How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?

The issue's dated September. But "Harper's" always goes to print about a month ahead of its official publication date. So that piece, in which Lapham records his scorn for the speeches made at a Republican Convention that hasn't happened yet, has been in the hands of readers for several weeks now.