Easy Chair | Harper's Magazine - Part 4

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Easy Chair

A monthly space for the opinions and observations of a revolving cast of writers.

Donkey Business

That the Republican Party has worked its way to a lonely and unpopular place is not news. The G.O.P.’s congressional wing has been moving rightward since the 1980s, and in…

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Chicago Is the Future

It was in 1988 that I moved to the bedraggled neighborhood of Hyde Park in order to study American history at the University of Chicago. I left the city ten…

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Home of the Whopper

Let me tell you about this one stretch of Hillsborough Road in Durham, North Carolina. It’s between two freeways, just a short drive from the noble towers of Duke University,…

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Course Corrections

To the long list of American institutions that have withered since the dawn of the 1980s—?journalism, organized labor, mainline Protestantism, small-town merchants—?it may be time to add another: college-level humanities.…

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If Memory Swerves

September 15 will mark five years since the beginning of the economic slump that defines the world we live in. Disaster was in the air already by that day in…

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Ad Absurdum

Suppose we decide to take a look at the Sixties from a fresh perspective. Suppose we start not with politicians, or soldiers in Vietnam, or civil rights protesters, or Woodstock…

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Trio Grande

The lady who changed the world,” was how The Economist described Margaret Thatcher in its obituary. Whether or not we believe that individuals ever wield such power over history, it…

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Getting to Eureka

The writer for Harper’s Magazine had a problem. Books he read and people he knew had been warning him that the nation and maybe mankind itself had wandered into a…

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Power Rangers

What, then, is the Washingtonian, this smug and satisfied man? Behold him as he ambles toward you on the sidewalks of Capitol Hill, phone clamped to his ear, talking loudly…

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Broken English

The radio was tuned to NPR, the subject was austerity, and the great observers of our political moment were speaking with their customary authority. The conversation wandered to and fro,…

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Blood Sport

For a time in December, it looked as though the nation was finally ready to take on the gun culture. Perhaps you recall the moment: twenty grade-schoolers, along with their…

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Team America

There have been an estimated 16,000 books written about Abraham Lincoln; like the lives of the wealthy and the secrets of self-improvement, a fascination with the Great Emancipator is an…

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Second Chance

Inauguration Day is upon us. And it seems like only yesterday that the colossal, overheating machinery of democracy, which had been running in high gear for almost two years, finally…

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Appetite for Destruction

Apocalypses are lots of fun. They bring excitement to our otherwise boring lives. They smash through the smug façade of everyday authority. And it’s a blast to imagine the exact…

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All the Rage

In the political contest now entering its final few weeks, there are numerous issues great and small being debated by the candidates. But there is only one Issue before the…

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The Maintenance Crew

Remember the moment when “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”? It was late in the spring of 2008, and that was one…

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Compromising Positions

Let us review. Barack Obama, who was lifted to the presidency four years ago on a great wave of progressive fantasy, likes to say that the national budget is like…

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