One of the more promising programs of the recent Chicago Humanities Festival was to be a three-way conversation with Adam Hochschild, a founder of Mother Jones magazine, Monika Bauerlein, coeditor of that magazine, and Tom Engelhardt, creator of the blog and newsletter Tomdispatch.com. Their subject, to quote the festival, was going to be “what it means to write carefully and edit thoughtfully at a time when both crafts seem out of fashion.”
Unfortunately, bad weather stranded Englelhardt in the east, and Bauerlein was a little too deferential to Hochschild for their exchange to strike many sparks. A provocateur would have been welcome, and as the hour ended an opening for some mischief came and passed.
A member of the large audience in the Francis W. Parker auditorium said he was puzzled that Hurricane Sandy didn’t seem to have harmed Mitt Romney in the polls. So Bauerlein asked Hochschild if he thought Sandy had made climate change register on Americans in a way that “years and years of pontificating” didn’t, and Hochschild replied that it hadn’t—at least, not yet.