- Current Issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
The whole rationale for the continuing existence of the conservative, Democratic Party leadership to which Mr. Obama belongs is that they, and only they, can save us—save our Social Security and Medicare, prevent us from invading Iran, and keep the Supreme Court at least where it is now.
We were so scared and bewildered we continued buying into this rationale even as President Obama betrayed pretty much everything he ran on, hired back all the old Clinton hands who did so much to help cause the world financial panic in the first place, and turned over all of our names and addresses to the desiccated mummies still running the Democratic Party.
We put up with it all, thanks to the growing conviction that he really would win again and save us all from the lunatic, nihilist Republicans.
We put up with it even though he solemnly promised absolutely nothing for his second term, save that he would once again try to make us work more years for less money and fewer benefits, in exchange for a budget deal.
Then Barack Obama came apart before a national television audience and, in an hour and a half, changed the entire public image of both men. Overnight, Romney went from national punch line to Pew-poll front-runner.
The diehards who posit that Obama is just setting Romney up for the next debate are fooling themselves. The idol really is smashed, and I suspect for good. Far from playing three-dimensional chess, the most logical explanation for the president’s Denver daze, as I wrote after the debate, is that he simply wants out. Who knew it was going to be the Skypilot himself, Flight Chief Obama, scrambling for the eject button while the rest of us tried to batter down the cockpit door and force him back into his seat?
I predict we’ll see further evidence that Obama’s heart isn’t in it. But we liberals are going to have to pull him through. We’re going to have to do it because the only alternative is too awful to contemplate, and there’s no time to replace him. We are going to have to push, and haul, and shove him back into the White House . . . even though the first thing he’s going to do once he gets there is to try his best to screw us over again. We have to save our own Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. We have to save the environment from catastrophic climate change. We have to prevent a disastrous invasion of Iran.
If we can do this, then we will have demonstrated to ourselves and to the nation that we no longer need our keepers, all these very practical, very moderate individuals who keep insisting that they alone can save us, even as they once again betray us.
If only we can save ourselves, there’s no telling what we can do next.
And yes. We. Can. Even if he can’t.
More from Kevin Baker:
Political Asylum — November 9, 2012, 3:59 pm
A dispassionate president disavows the liberal idea.
Political Asylum — November 8, 2012, 6:03 pm
Can the G.O.P. genuinely change its attitude toward minorities and women?
Political Asylum — November 5, 2012, 9:42 pm
An election-eve elegy for the country???s former guardians of sanity
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”