Harper’s has named a new editor. His name is Roger D. Hodge. He is 38 and was once turned down as an intern, only to be called back later, eventually becoming a deputy editor. What’s particularly amusing about the Times article is that Jack Shafer, perhaps the silliest man ever employed by Slate, seems slightly miffed at being passed over, noting, “Who wouldn’t want to edit a magazine that had a seemingly bottomless philanthropic fund to finance it? If they called me and asked me to take the job, I’d pack my bags tomorrow.”
Hodge himself, however, states, “There is a global war on terror, a war in Iraq and we have a presidential administration that is collapsing. And we don’t seem to have any politicians that know what to do about it. It is a very interesting time for Harper’s.” Much as I might enjoy Harper’s, I’m wondering whether such knee-jerk reactions, which have apparently resulted in increased sales, are the stuff of intellectual debate which cuts across multiple perspectives. Since Harper’s, as Shafer has noted, has colossal funding, would it not make sense to challenge all political perspectives? A preprogrammed anti-Bush rant might win you instant applause from a liberal crowd, but I’d hate to see the MacArthur Foundation’s resources wasted on conveying preprogrammed platitudes to a bunch of hoary-haired lefties who need to feel reaffirmed.
Of course, there’s one easy solution: Hire Vollmann to contribute journalism on a regular basis.