What, did you have a thing about clean linens?
Maybe. But I do want to answer your question about mistakes. I think the New Left critique of liberalism was wrong in many ways. I think I was too harsh about Bobby Kennedy. And let me tell you about my most recent error! If you read my book Playing President, which is a cautionary tale, it’s pretty hard to predict Obama.

Although it might have prepared you for Hillary.
Oh, it definitely prepares you for Hillary. You know, the amazing thing to me, and this is going to sound incredibly egotistical—

Fire away.
The amazing thing to me is that a significant percentage of what I’ve written has turned out to be valid. I’m one of these guys who gets up at four in the morning after I’ve handed in a column, thinking that I got it all wrong. But The Pornography of Power—I was really surprised. I read the galleys and I liked it. That’s something, considering that I don’t trust myself any more than I trust the politicians I write about. 

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.


James Marcus is the deputy editor of Harper’s Magazine. His next book, Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Emerson in Eighteen Installments, will be published in 2015.