Publisher’s Note

Publisher's Note — December 19, 2012, 4:42 pm

Liberals Back to Giving Obama a Pass

What are liberals for?

Writing a Book

Publisher's Note — November 15, 2012, 12:49 pm

Book Tour Continental

Talking Obama in Paris

Writing a Book

Publisher's Note — October 17, 2012, 9:43 am

Is Obama Merely Warming the Seat for Chicago Politics?

Talking with longtime city alderman Edward Burke about how the Chicago political machine launched Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel to national prominence.

Publisher's Note — October 3, 2012, 8:05 am

The Friends Rushdie Forgot

Revising Salman Rushdie’s self-history—from “The Friends Rushdie Forgot,” in the September 2012 issue of The Spectator.

Publisher's Note — September 12, 2012, 9:52 am

Obama’s Campaign Duplicities Rival Romney’s and Ryan’s

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on September 12, 2012. Like other liberals, I’ve been inundated with e-mails attacking the “lies” lately retailed by the Republican Party and the two candidates leading its national ticket. Paul Ryan’s remarks about the shutdown of his hometown General Motors plant, and President Obama’s alleged deception about keeping it open, is the casus belli cited by most of the anti-Ryan/Romney truthers. But the Janesville/GM gambit seems to stand in …

Publisher's Note — July 18, 2012, 11:00 am

Turning My Sincere Eulogy for Earl Shorris Into an Authentic One

Earl Shorris passed away on May 27, 2012. He was a long-time contributor to Harper’s Magazine, authoring more than two dozen reports and essays, including one on the development of the Clemente Course in the Humanities. His last feature for the magazine, “American Vespers,” ran in the December 2011 issue. John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on July 18, 2012. I’ve delivered a few eulogies over the years, and they don’t get any easier with …

Publisher's Note — June 20, 2012, 12:53 pm

Obama Does Populist Pantomime, Empowers G.O.P.

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on June 20, 2012. Scott Walker’s easy victory in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election once again raises the question I’ve been posing for nearly four years: What will it take for liberals to recognize Barack Obama’s lack of conviction about anything remotely resembling a reform agenda? Nowadays it’s not just me and the political scientist Adolph Reed pointing out the president’s indifference to progressive or constitutional causes. His refusal …

Publisher's Note — May 23, 2012, 9:25 am

The Decline and Fall (in the U.S.) of the Public Intellectual

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on May 23, 2012. Last week I spoke at my alma mater’s Class Day ceremony, which at Columbia College serves as the central event for seniors, even though Columbia University, of which it’s a part, conducts the formal commencement and awarding of degrees on the next day. I won’t reprise my speech since I’m reluctant to promote a contribution to a genre of public speaking that many people …

Publisher's Note — May 15, 2012, 1:19 pm

Columbia College Class Day Keynote Speech

  John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This is the text of a keynote address delivered at Columbia College Class Day on May 15, 2012, in New York City. President Bollinger, Provost Coatsworth, Vice President Dirks, Dean Valentini, members of the class of 2012 and their parents, honored guests. I realize that many among you are disappointed that I am not the president of the United States. I want you to know that I share your disappointment. There was a time when …

Publisher's Note — April 18, 2012, 1:05 pm

Tactics and Principle as French Near Vote

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on April 18, 2012. It’s presidential-campaign season and once again I find myself impressed by the wealth of choices among the many candidates. There are center-right and center-left candidates of considerable standing, a true centrist candidate independent of the major parties, a far-right candidate who sometimes sounds like a left-winger, and a charismatic far-left candidate who appeals directly to supporters of the far right. Then there’s an acidly …

Publisher's Note — March 15, 2012, 11:25 am

Shredding the U.S. Labor Force Is a Bipartisan Project

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on March 14, 2012. Presidential candidates are once again crisscrossing the Midwest, making believe they’re dreadfully upset by the plight of the working class. The leveraged-buyout mogul, Mitt Romney, sheds crocodile tears in factories, while the Bible-flogging Rick Santorum offers Christian salvation to stanch the wounds of the underpaid and unemployed. To borrow a phrase from Santorum, it’s enough to make you throw up. “I spent my life …

Publisher's Note — February 16, 2012, 11:00 am

The Uses of a Long G.O.P. Contest (for the Democrats)

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on February 15, 2012. In a recession-bruised country starved for humor, the Republican primaries are a gift from heaven, especially when the debates involve religion and morality. The biggest laughs come out of Newt Gingrich’s struggles with sexuality and marriage, and how they’re contrasted with Mitt Romney’s allegedly perfect relationship with his wife. Having labeled state-sanctioned unions between homosexuals as evidence of “the rise of paganism” and “a …

Publisher's Note — January 18, 2012, 4:59 pm

How Christopher Hitchens Flip-flopped and Fell From Grace

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on January 18, 2012. In the outpouring of accolades that followed the death of Christopher Hitchens, I confess I joined in, trying my best to claim some of his journalistic legacy. Because the obituaries failed to mention his service as the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, of which I am the publisher, or that his landmark book The Trial of Henry Kissinger originated as two long pieces in …

Publisher's Note — December 16, 2011, 7:04 pm

R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

We at Harper’s Magazine deeply regret, on a personal and professional level, the death of Christopher Hitchens. Christopher was a friend to me and to the magazine for many years, especially during his time as Washington Editor from 1987 to 1992. Lewis Lapham and I would surely concur that some of Christopher’s best work was written for Harper’s. Among our proudest collaborations were “The Case against Henry Kissinger,” which ran in two parts in 2001 and was published as a book later that year, and his brilliant analysis of President George H.W. Bush’s intervention in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. …

Publisher's Note — December 14, 2011, 12:16 pm

President Obama Richly Deserves To Be Dumped

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on December 14, 2011. As evidence of a failed Obama presidency accumulates, criticism of his administration is mounting from liberal Democrats who have too much moral authority to be ignored. Most prominent among these critics is veteran journalist Bill Moyers, whose October address to a Public Citizen gathering puts the lie to our barely Democratic president’s populist pantomime, acted out last week in a Kansas speech decrying the …

Publisher's Note — November 16, 2011, 3:16 pm

The Progressive, Sensitive, Rational Governor Romney

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on November 16, 2011. I’ve been reading up on former Governor Romney, and I like what I’m learning, about both his passion and his powers of observation. Here’s an emblematic excerpt of a speech he delivered to editorial writers following a cross-country tour: “The America I saw was not America the Beautiful…. Instead, I saw the other face of America — the America of ugly streets and rotted …

Publisher's Note — October 21, 2011, 8:51 am

An Architect’s Optimism; The U.N.’s Pessimism

John R. MacArthur is publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of the book You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Providence Journal on October 19, 2011. As I left the United Nations General Assembly last month, having just heard Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s plea for recognition of a Palestinian state, I noticed Elie Weisel, the Nobel laureate and death-camp survivor, surrounded by admirers. The Romanian-born writer was lending his moral support to the Israeli prime minister in the middle of an audience of diplomats, U.N. staffers, …

Publisher's Note — September 14, 2011, 9:04 am

Some Liberals Finally On To Obama’s Betrayal of Liberalism

As a self-proclaimed independent journalist normally content to attack politicians from outside the establishment, I’ve found it very lonely criticizing Barack Obama these past three years. Before then it was easy to be at odds with power, since the Bush nightmare rallied all sorts of disparate foes of the administration. But with Obama’s arrival in the White House, ordinarily skeptical liberals thought they had found their redeemer, a genuine reformer with leftist instincts who, even better, was the son of a black African father and a liberal white mother. It didn’t matter what Obama’s actual record was — how (or …

Publisher's Note — September 12, 2011, 8:24 am

The Hangover

A video interview with Viceland about where we’re heading now that the 9/11 memorials are over:

Publisher's Note — September 10, 2011, 4:04 pm

The Sad Legacy of Sept. 11

John R. MacArthur is the publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author, most recently, of You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America. This column originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on September 10, 2011. For weeks I’ve been dreading the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and not because I fear another attack. As a New Yorker who works below 14th Street, I’m reluctant to revisit the unhappy images I witnessed on that paradoxically lovely, cloudless day: the vast plume of smoke blowing eastward over my office building when I emerged from the Bleecker Street subway station around 9 …

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