Editor's Note — October 14, 2016, 5:35 pm

Inside the November Issue

Thomas Frank on how the media exterminates political reform, Trudy Lieberman on the fate of Medicare, Chris Offutt on the changing face of Appalachia, a story by Stephen Dixon, and more

HarpersWeb-201611-cover-410Earlier this year, during the prolonged cage match of the Democratic primary, it became clear that much of the media viewed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders with amusement, irritation, and contempt. The caricature of the Vermont senator as a socialist Pied Piper, leading his flock of millennials straight over the electoral cliff, certainly contributed to his defeat.  This we already know. But in this month’s cover story, “Swat Team,” Thomas Frank takes a deeper look at the phenomenon, using the Washington Post—arguably the house organ of the nation’s political class—as his test case. Frank read through some two hundred editorials and op-eds about Sanders, many of them almost comically derisive. (Sample headline: NOMINATING SANDERS WOULD BE INSANE.) His trawl through this material—a kind of Great Dismal Swamp of tongue-clucking rhetoric—is both amusing and instructive. But Frank has a bigger point to make about the media’s role in quashing reform, and its addiction to tiptoeing incrementalism as the only true path in American politics.

By now, of course, the media has largely deserted the buffoonish figure of Donald Trump. But he still commands a sizable slice of the electorate, and has a demonstrated gift for bouncing back from self-inflicted catastrophe—he will remain a threat, and bigly, until Election Day. Chris Offutt, making his first appearance in the magazine, explores Trump’s appeal to white working-class voters in a meditative essay, “In the Hollow.” The author, himself a product of the Kentucky backwoods, has much to say about the role of pride—and its inverse, shame—in the Appalachian psyche. Meanwhile, artist Steve Mumford attends Trump rallies in Virginia and Maine, and captures their brassy, boisterous, Hillary-hating vibe in “Campaign Sketches.”

Farther from home, Jennifer Percy chronicles a seat-of-the-pants operation to rescue Christian hostages in “Escape from the Caliphate.” Her protagonist, a Good Samaritan named Emad Matti, knows exactly how to strike deals with the devil—in this case, Islamic State functionaries in Iraq. The ethical conundrum of bargaining with terrorists troubles him not one jot. The point is to extract as many hostages as possible and bring them to the safe harbor of Kirkuk, and Percy’s portrait of this embattled pragmatist, delicately negotiating for human lives via cell phone, is a keeper.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Trudy Lieberman describes how Medicare—one of those dastardly entitlements so hated by GOP grandees, and so loved by its actual beneficiaries—may succumb to the poison pill of privatization within just a few years. In Readings, Claire-Louise Bennett dilates on schnitzel and its discontents, Mark Morris tells us how to cry onstage, and Liana Finck plays the circle game in a series of witty drawings. William Deresiewicz reviews three books on the history of television and explains why, after decades of mediocrity, the medium has improved so drastically since the turn of the millennium. And finally, we have a story by Stephen Dixon, full of gentle regrets and long, head-spinning, heart-tickling sentences.

Share
Single Page

More from James Marcus:

Editor's Note April 13, 2017, 6:06 pm

Inside the May Issue

The human network behind Snowden’s leak, the scandal of mental health in West Africa, Islam’s forgotten reformation, and more…

Editor's Note March 23, 2017, 2:31 pm

Inside the April Issue

Leslie Jamison on the Women’s March, Alan Feuer on Bill de Blasio, Yascha Mounk on the refugee crisis in Germany, and Jessica Weisberg on Tokyo’s exclusion of immigrants

Editor's Note February 17, 2017, 2:13 pm

Inside the March Issue

Andrew Cockburn on turning Texas blue, Masha Gessen on the spread of antigay ideology, Calvin Baker on how Obama negotiated America’s racial tightrope, Mary Cuddehe on the dealth penalty as a conservative conundrum, a story by David Szalay, and more

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2017

A Prayer’s Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bee-Brained

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Mothers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Facing the Furies

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The New Climate

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Dream Preferred

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Snowden’s Box·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mrs. B’s Baby Village Day Care was on a frontage road between a mattress wholesaler and a knife outlet. There were six or so babies as regulars and another one or two on weekends when their parents were passing through looking for work. They wouldn’t find work, of course, all the security positions were full, the timber and ore had all been taken under the active-stewardship program, and the closest new start-up industry was the geothermal field hundreds of miles away. Mrs. B didn’t even bother to write those babies’ names down in her book. It was fifteen dollars a day and they had to be in reasonable health. Even so the occasional mischievous illness would arise and empty the place out.

Illustration (detail) by Taylor Callery
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mrs. B’s Baby Village Day Care was on a frontage road between a mattress wholesaler and a knife outlet. There were six or so babies as regulars and another one or two on weekends when their parents were passing through looking for work. They wouldn’t find work, of course, all the security positions were full, the timber and ore had all been taken under the active-stewardship program, and the closest new start-up industry was the geothermal field hundreds of miles away. Mrs. B didn’t even bother to write those babies’ names down in her book. It was fifteen dollars a day and they had to be in reasonable health. Even so the occasional mischievous illness would arise and empty the place out.

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
A Prayer’s Chance·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mrs. B’s Baby Village Day Care was on a frontage road between a mattress wholesaler and a knife outlet. There were six or so babies as regulars and another one or two on weekends when their parents were passing through looking for work. They wouldn’t find work, of course, all the security positions were full, the timber and ore had all been taken under the active-stewardship program, and the closest new start-up industry was the geothermal field hundreds of miles away. Mrs. B didn’t even bother to write those babies’ names down in her book. It was fifteen dollars a day and they had to be in reasonable health. Even so the occasional mischievous illness would arise and empty the place out.

Photograph (detail) by Robin Hammond/NOOR
Article
Bee-Brained·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mrs. B’s Baby Village Day Care was on a frontage road between a mattress wholesaler and a knife outlet. There were six or so babies as regulars and another one or two on weekends when their parents were passing through looking for work. They wouldn’t find work, of course, all the security positions were full, the timber and ore had all been taken under the active-stewardship program, and the closest new start-up industry was the geothermal field hundreds of miles away. Mrs. B didn’t even bother to write those babies’ names down in her book. It was fifteen dollars a day and they had to be in reasonable health. Even so the occasional mischievous illness would arise and empty the place out.

Illustration (detail) by Eda Akaltun. Source photograph of Jairam Hathwar at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee © Pete Marovich/UPI/Newscom
Article
My First Car·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mrs. B’s Baby Village Day Care was on a frontage road between a mattress wholesaler and a knife outlet. There were six or so babies as regulars and another one or two on weekends when their parents were passing through looking for work. They wouldn’t find work, of course, all the security positions were full, the timber and ore had all been taken under the active-stewardship program, and the closest new start-up industry was the geothermal field hundreds of miles away. Mrs. B didn’t even bother to write those babies’ names down in her book. It was fifteen dollars a day and they had to be in reasonable health. Even so the occasional mischievous illness would arise and empty the place out.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Amount Greece’s ruling Syriza party believes that Germany owes Greece in war reparations:

$172,000,000,000

Americans of both sexes prefer the body odors of people with similar political beliefs.

Tens of thousands of people marched to promote science in cities across the world, and Trump issued an Earth Day statement in which he did not mention climate change.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today