Posts Tagged ‘Harper’s magazine’

USA | David Bromwich har skrivet en essay om Barack Obama som nog får anses vara en av de bästa om presidentens politik så här långt.

Harper's Magazine - June 2015

“One of the least controversial things you can say about Barack Obama is that he campaigned better than he has governed”, skriver professor Bromwich.

Obama har under sin tid i Vita huset, enligt Bromwich, valt att följa ”minsta möjliga motståndets väg” så fort en konflikt uppstått på både det utrikespolitiska som på det inrikespolitiska området.

Bromwich skriver i Harper’s Magazine:

Any summing-up of the Obama presidency is sure to find a major obstacle in the elusiveness of the man. He has spoken more words, perhaps, than any other president; but to an unusual extent, his words and actions float free of each other. He talks with unnerving ease on both sides of an issue: about the desirability, for example, of continuing large-scale investment in fossil fuels. Anyone who voted twice for Obama and was baffled twice by what followed — there must be millions of us — will feel that this president deserves a kind of criticism he has seldom received. Yet we are held back by an admonitory intuition. His predecessor was worse, and his successor most likely will also be worse.


In March 2015, in the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession. It is one thing to know about yourself that in the gravest matters you follow the path of least resistance. It is another thing to say so in public. Obama was affirming that for him there could not possibly be a question of following the path of courageous resistance.


During Obama’s first year in office, the string of departures from his own stated policy showed the want of connection between his promises and his preparation to lead. The weakness was built-in to the rapid rise that carried him from his late twenties through his early forties. His appreciative, dazzled, and grateful mentors always took the word for the deed. They made the allowance because he cut a brilliant figure. Obama’s ascent was achieved too easily to be answerable for the requirement of performing much. This held true in law school, where he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review without an article to his name, and again in his three terms as an Illinois state senator, where he logged an uncommonly high proportion of noncommittal “present” votes rather than “ayes” or “nays.” Careless journalists have assumed that his time of real commitment goes further back, to his three years as a community organizer in Chicago. But even in that role, Obama was averse to conflict. He was never observed at a scene of disorder, and he had no enemies among the people of importance in the city.

He came to the presidency, then, without having made a notable sacrifice for his views. Difficulty, however—the kind of difficulty Obama steered clear of—can be a sound instructor. Stake out a lonely position and it sharpens the outline of your beliefs. When the action that backs the words is revealed with all its imperfections, the sacrifice will tell the audience something definite and interesting about the actor himself. Barack Obama entered the presidency as an unformed actor in politics.

In responding to the opportunities of his first years in office, Obama displayed the political equivalent of dead nerve endings.

Mer: Lyssna på en längre intervju med David Bromwich på KERA med anledning av hans essay i Harper’s.

Tidskriftsomslag: Harper’s Magazine, juni 2015.

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USA | Det är inte var dag man ser rubriken “Stop Hillary” i en amerikansk s.k. progressiv tidskrift. Ännu mindre på omslaget.

Harper's Magazine November 2014

Doug Henwood, redaktör för Left Business Observer, har skrivit en essay om Hillary Clinton i Harper’s Magazine som väckt stor uppmärksamhet.

I media och bland politiska proffstyckare på både vänster- och högerkanten utgår man mer eller mindre ifrån att nomineringen till demokraternas presidentkandidat är hennes om hon vill ha den.

Och på vänsterkanten är man inte speciellt intresserad av att framföra något negativt om Hillary eftersom man tror hon har störst möjlighet att vinna över en republikansk rival (vem det nu än blir). Dessutom brukar det straffa sig att göra sig till Bill Clintons och Hillarys fiender.

Som Henwood själv skriver: “[M]ost progressives are unwilling to discuss Hillary in anything but the most general, flattering terms. Pundits who have written about her in the past dismissed my queries in rude and patronizing ways.”

Men Henwood är inte lika säker på att ännu en president Clinton skulle vara det bästa för partiet eller landet.

What is the case for Hillary (whose quasi-official website identifies her, in bold blue letters, by her first name only, as do millions upon millions of voters)? It boils down to this: She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn. It’s hard to find any substantive political argument in her favor. She has, in the past, been associated with women’s issues, with children’s issues — but she also encouraged her husband to sign the 1996 bill that put an end to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), which had been in effect since 1935. Indeed, longtime Clinton adviser Dick Morris, who has now morphed into a right-wing pundit, credits Hillary for backing both of Bill’s most important moves to the center: the balanced budget and welfare reform. And during her subsequent career as New York’s junior senator and as secretary of state, she has scarcely budged from the centrist sweet spot, and has become increasingly hawkish on foreign policy.


Since leaving the State Department, Hillary has devoted herself to what we can only call […] Clinton, Inc. This fund-raising, favor-dispensing machine is key to understanding her joint enterprise with Bill. Unlike the Bush family, an old-style WASP dynasty for all W.’s populist bluster and blunder, the Clintons are arrivistes who approach politics in a highly neoliberal manner. That means nonstop self-promotion, huge book advances and fat speaking fees. (Hillary has now joined Bill in the six-figure club).


And with an eye to the presidency, Hillary has also kept up her line of neocon patter, while carefully separating herself from Obama.


When I spoke to Dick Morris, I asked him how Hillary would differentiate herself from Obama during the 2016 campaign. His prediction: She would say that her predecessor had outlined a beautiful vision, but now voters “need someone who can get things done.” He added that she would criticize Obama for not having armed the Syrian rebels earlier. Two weeks later, in her conversation with [Jeffrey] Goldberg, Hillary did exactly that, while also suggesting that the president was to blame for the rise of ISIL. (In a revoltingly laudatory Washington Post review of Henry Kissinger’s new book, Hillary distinguishes between the president’s first term, during which they “laid the foundation” for a new approach to international relations – and the “crises of the second term,” as if the world suddenly changed when she strolled out of the State Department.)


Morris told me that if the Massachusetts senator [Elizabeth Warren] “or some genuine figure from the new populist left of the Democratic Party” were to challenge Hillary, “they could upend her in much the same way that Obama did in 2008.” Warren, meanwhile, swears she doesn’t want to run, even as Hillary dons the mantle of inevitability for the second time.

Tidskriftsomslag: Harper’s Magazine, november 2014

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USA | Förväntningarna är stora att Barack Obama skall leverera efter sin övertygande valseger. Frågan är bara vad det är han skall leverera.  

Harper's Magazine januari 2013

Vare sig Obama eller Mitt Romney utmärkte sig inte för att vara överdrivet tydliga med vad man tänkte göra vid en eventuell valseger. Alla har därför sin egen bild av vad Obama verkligen lovade.

Det var först under de sista veckorna som Team Obama kände att det var nödvändigt att släppa något som kunde uppfattas som vallöften – “The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs & Middle-Class Security”.

Men även detta dokument innehöll mer av vaga löften än specifika åtgärder.

Det är inte ovanligt att kombattanterna i en valrörelse inte vill öppna upp sig för attacker genom att vara allt för tydliga.

Det är alltid lättare att försvara visioner än tydliga vallöften. Vallöften drabbar nämligen alltid någon väljargrupp negativt. Och vem vill göra väljare upprörda?

Thomas Frank, contributing editorHarper’s Magazine, tycker sig ana att Obamas väljare kommer att bli besvikna.

As it happens, there is another Obama campaign document that tells us far more about his second-term intentions. I am referring to the now-legendary interview the president gave to the Des Moines Register two weeks before Election Day. At first, Obama campaign officials had insisted that the interview be off-the-record, and only later did they agree to its publication. The president, perhaps assuming that his remarks would remain private, was unusually candid — and what he promised was anything but four years of nationalized banks and sharia law.

Perhaps it will surprise you to learn that his real policy ambition was the same as always: to achieve the Grand Bargain. Which is to say, a fiscal deal between the parties that would enact the centrist dream agenda all at once by cutting spending, increasing tax revenue, and (in at least one version of it) “reforming” entitlements.


Another term for the Grand Bargain might be “austerity” — the punitive economic reflex that has driven much of Europe into deep recession. Austerity proceeds from the reasonable-sounding premise that government must cut back spending during hard times, just as everyone else does. However, this practice actually serves to worsen slumps and recessions rather than cure them. That in turn reduces tax revenues, thereby pumping up deficits and making the need for further austerity seem even more urgent. Such a bargain might be grand, but it might also be stupid and self-destructive. Why does the president crave it so?

When the Obama Administration was young and orthodoxy was on the ropes, the president was a dogged foe of austerity: he secured the passage of a large stimulus package, which ballooned the federal deficit even as it cushioned the blow of the recession. And he didn’t wait to enact some sweeping Treaty of Dupont Circle, either. He passed the stimulus over the noisy and nearly unanimous objections of the Republicans and simultaneously flew in the face of the city’s traditional predilections.


Barack Obama’s Democrats just won a resounding triumph in what was advertised as the great ideological face-off of our times. What we the people chose, according to this viewpoint, was social insurance, universal health care, a strong regulatory state. What this town urges on President Obama, unfortunately, is something quite different: an imaginary armistice between the two parties, purchased at the cost of the very things his supporters think they just voted for. It is a recipe for greatness credible to the soi-disant “informed,” maybe. But to nearly everyone else, it rings with the hollow and obsolete magical thinking of Washington, D.C.

Bild: Både artikeln och tidskriftsomslaget är från Harper’s Magazine, januari 2013.

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ARTIKLAR | Här kommer lite långläsning med fokus på president Barack Obama, vicepresident Joe Biden och guvernör Mitt Romney.

New York, 10 oktober 2012

Joe Biden Isn’t Finished av John Heilemann

Air Force Two will be safely at cruising altitude before he brings his retort in for a landing with a one-fell-swoop dismissal of the Twitterverse, the blogosphere, the hot-eyed Foxified yakkety-yak-yakkers, Romney, Ryan, and, in a way, himself: “I don’t think this has a single little effect on voters.”

Time, 8 oktober 2012

The Mormon In Mitt av Jon Meacham

Observers have long sought clues to Romney’s character and worldview in his Mormonism. There is the optimistic salesmanship, the blindingly pure family values, the can-do spirit. In many ways Romney is Reagan with children who speak to him, a cheerful leader who has a mystical appreciation of the role America is meant to play in history.

Harper’s Magazine, september 2012

The Changeling – The Content of Obama’s Character” av David Samuels

Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, he speaks for me, for you, for all of us? An educated, intelligent man, he is the very model of the roommate that every good liberal parent in Park Slope or Santa Monica prays that their son might bring home from college. He is proof of how it is possible to live the good life in America without ceasing to be a good person. Intimately acquainted with ambivalence, he pulled the trigger on Osama bin Laden while bringing our boys home from the deserts of Iraq.

Compromising Positions” av Thomas Frank

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 a family budget: that when times are tough, government has to tighten its belt. This is a Republican simile of very long standing, and the president is a Democrat. He is in fact the leader of the party that is supposed to believe in deficit spending during hard times. Yet Obama has enthusiastically adopted the belt-tightening trope, and all the terrible ideas that go with it.

Tidskriftsomslagen: Biden fotograferad av Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photo. Fotot på Time av Dan Forbes. Kevin Sprouls illustrerade Harper’s Magazine.

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Turkmeniscam - Ken SilversteinWASHINGTON: Ken Silverstein, redaktör på Harper’s magazine, Wallraffade bland Washingtons lobbyister och PR-byråer för att undersöka om någon firma ville jobba för stalinistdiktaturen i Turkmenistan.

Silversteins alter ego ”Kenneth Cole” utgav sig för att representera en fiktiv grupp av finansiärer – Maldon Group – som var intresserade av att förbättra relationerna mellan USA och president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedovs nya regim i landet.

Föga förvånande var det inga problem för Silverstein att få napp. Ingen av de fyra mest intressanta – APCO Worldwide, Carmen Group, Cassidy & Associates och The Livingston Group – tackade nej till att inleda ett samarbete.

Resultatet av granskningen blev till sist den mycket underhållande boken Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship (Random House, New York).

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