Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE NEW REPUBLIC....Via Atrios, I see that Franklin Foer will be taking over as editor of the New Republic next week. I wish him luck. He'll need it.

Like a lot of people, I find TNR to be a maddening magazine. At the same time, I also find it indispensable. Sure, reading Martin Peretz is like listening to fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard, but just take a look at their masthead. I'm not a fan of every single one of TNR's senior editors (a title that's essentially code for "staff writer," not someone who actually does any editing) but 80% of them are top notch. It's hard to think of any other political magazine that can match that collection of talent, and they consistently churn out a remarkable amount of top notch political journalism.

So what's their problem? They publish some genuinely weird dreck sometimes, but they're hardly unique in that. Do they need brighter writing for a new era of blog-raised readers? I doubt it. Their writing is better than most of their competitors. Do they need to cut down on what sometimes seems like knee jerk contrarianism? Maybe. One Michael Kinsley is enough. Do they need to finally figure out plainly and unambiguously that the Iraq war was a mistake?

Bingo. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely to happen, and as long as they decline to learn the obvious lesson from our current adventure in Mesopotamia they're just not going to find a very big liberal audience. And that's too bad, because an awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage between their covers by their stubborn insistence that the U.S. military can remake the world.

Kevin Drum 1:23 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (73)

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Comments

Shrub at 34%. Well, he said he was a uniter, and he was right. Everybody hates him!

Posted by: craigie on February 28, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, indispensable. For the Republicans, for the right.

Even the liberal New Republic.

What a waste of trees.

Maybe they can get Peter B to enlist now.

Posted by: Lettuce on February 28, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

"And one of the magazine's major preoccupations a search for the soul of the Democratic Party would seem to require a lot of patience and a miner's helmet."

Your liberal media at work.

Posted by: craigie on February 28, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

You know, you'd think that if Fukuyama could find a way to repudiate the Iraq war, and the ideological assumptions that motivated it, then the TNR would be able to do the like.

But you'd be wrong.

And THAT is why TNR should be simply taken out behind the barn and shot through the head; some things are not meant to live.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 28, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad, though, if we can't find some way to use this (probabably) brief window of U.S. military superiority to help change the world for the better.

Posted by: yesh on February 28, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Some morally sound way to achieve such an end, that is.

Posted by: yesh on February 28, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage between their covers by their stubborn insistence that the U.S. military can remake the world.

Kevin Drum 1:23 AM Permalink | TrackBack (0) | Comments (6)

Well is the U.S. military won't. Al Qaeda certainly will.

And if liberal democratic capitalism cannot find an answer to Islamic insurgency, something else will.

Posted by: McA on February 28, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: They publish some genuinely weird dreck sometimes, but they're hardly unique in that.

You can say that again. Besides, they only do it once a week. There's a monthly outfit that puts their trash on the curb every day.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 28, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

"...80% of them are top notch."

Now you've done it. Expect cries and lamentations of "I'm in that 80%!"

Posted by: Linkmeister on February 28, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Do they need to finally figure out plainly and unambiguously that the Iraq war was a mistake?"

But this is exactly what happened to them in the 80's -- their last big circulation drop -- when Kinsley and crew stubbornly supported the corrupt Contras in their illegal war against Nicaragua.

They never learn.

Posted by: Jeff on February 28, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Do they need to cut down on what sometimes seems like knee jerk contrarianism? Maybe."

Heh.

Are you projecting, by any chance?

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 28, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree, I don't find TNR maddening, I find it mediocre. I don't think 80% of the staff is "top notch", I find them all average writers who are so involved with putting novel little curliques on conventional wisdom that they miss the big picture.

The whole point of being a writer in a political journal is either to explain complicated subjects clearly, or to offer a novel perspective on the issues of the day. Their pieces are recycled cardboard that are slightly less superficial than Time magazine.

Posted by: HankP on February 28, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Has TNR changed ownership? I don't understand why an editorial change signifies.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on February 28, 2006 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

craigie:

Go check out the respondents for that poll here. Last page.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 28, 2006 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

I once subscribed to TNR, way back in the golden days -- the early 80's when Hendrick Hertzberg wrote for them. When he left in '85, so did I. Now I read The New Yorker. Wonder why?
--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 28, 2006 at 4:10 AM | PERMALINK

Indispensable?

I'm laughing as I type this...The New Republic is the minor leagues. They suck.

Posted by: Jimm on February 28, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

If The New Republic disappeared tomorrow, there wouldn't even be a ripple. I don't Kevin really believes that they are indispensable either. Must be some kind of kissing up for professional reasons, which is understandable, but, at the same time, laughable.

Posted by: Jimm on February 28, 2006 at 4:49 AM | PERMALINK


JIMM: I don't Kevin really believes that they are indispensable either. Must be some kind of kissing up for professional reasons

Well, that dripping wet suckjob he gave The New York Times last year, when he wrote they were the "state of the art in human perfectibility," hasn't so far managed to make him a colleague of Friedman or Brooks; so I guess he's keeping his options open.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 28, 2006 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

80% of the 13 Senior Writers are tops -- that's about 10 of them.

So, Kevin, come clean -- which 3 don't you like?

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on February 28, 2006 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

My god you liberals will just never learn - the war has turned into a mistake which is not the same as being inherently mistaken. There's a huge difference between the two especially when appealing to the chauvinistic instincts and simplistic reasoning of the average voter. Sorry, but it going badly does not confirm the inviolability of a liberal point of view just as if had it gone well that would not confirm the claims of arch conservatives.

And for the record liberals should be dancing in the street over how things have gone not because it reconciles them so nicely with their core principles - but rather because if Bush had succeeded those jokes about King George would have become a reality - and what does that say about you precious core values?

Posted by: saintsimon on February 28, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, you conservatives have it exactly wrong, saintsimon. The war was a mistake from the get go. As frankly0 pointed out, even Francis Fukuyama (one of the neocon leading lights) has finally realized it. He pointed out how odd it was the same conservatives who criticized "social engineering" in the US so eagerly promoted a much more massive forced democratization in the Middle East. There were many people who foresaw the exact problems we see today in Iraq; they knew from the start that it simply wouldn't work.

Posted by: KC on February 28, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

When it takes lies to get us into war, then it is wise to question why we go to war regardless of the outcome. Some of us were quite suspicious of these "men of action" who wished to impose democracy but were at the same time against nation building. The results were predictable. Strong leadership does not equate into opening up the world's most powerful armed force on a third rate dictator and then drowning it in a war of attrition. A strong leader would have the smarts to avoid it.

Posted by: lou on February 28, 2006 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the Washington Monthly has always shared with TNR an immense disdain for those outside the Beltway. No surprise they flirt and pass notes at garden parties.

Posted by: serial catowner on February 28, 2006 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

note to KC and all other uber liberal types who have applied a self-serving and abject misunderstanding of the war in their arguments that rivals Bush's own self-serving ignorance : read Biddle's essay in new Foreign Affairs. Kevin you may want to read it too re your ill-advised paeans to 'get out now' idiocy.

Posted by: saintsimon on February 28, 2006 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

The New Republic is the soul of what is left of the traditional Democratic Party. The hysterical voice of that party today is leading it into a long lacuna, similar to the post Callaghan, pre-Blair Labour Party. That may last for decadea but, hopefully, when the long Democratic Party nightmare ends, TNR will still exist with the institutional memory of the Roosevelt-Truman party.

There are actually a lot of people like me who are not part of the corporate GOP nor religious conservatives (who are actually not that conservative in an economic sense). We tend to call ourselves libertarians but there is no serious libertarian party right now. We are stuck as Republicans until there is a responsible Democratic party once again. If one ever returns, they might start winning national elections again.

Posted by: Mike K on February 28, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K:

By what criteria is the Republican Party 'responsible'? In my view it's not only irresponsible but corrupt, incompetent and oblivious to the fiascos that it causes because of its inability to govern.

Posted by: nut on February 28, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

And by what criteria is the Democratic Party now "hysterical"? If anything, they've been quiet and suppliant for far too long.

Saintsimon, I really enjoy your posts. It's like someone's taken the collected works of William F. Buckley, clipped all the high-brow phrases out, put them in a hat, and drawn them out one by one. It's Old Fogey Dada. Brilliant.

Posted by: Otto Man on February 28, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

TNR is a maddening magazine because that is its purpose. It was founded with money from the head of Freeport Sulphur (now Freeport-McMoran) way back when, as a "liberal" voice of lassez-faire capitalism. Carol Quigley writes in "Tragedy and Hope":

The best example of this alliance of Wall Street and Left-wing publication was The New Republic, a magazine founded by Willard Straight, using Payne Whitney money. . . . The original purpose for establishing the paper was to provide an outlet for the progressive Left and to guide it quietly in an Anglophile direction. . . . The first editor of The New Republic, the well-known "liberal" Herbert Croly, was aware of the situation... Croly's biography of Straight, published in 1914, makes perfectly clear that Straight was in no sense a liberal or a progressive, but was, indeed, a typical international banker and that The New Republic was simply a medium for advancing certain designs of such international bankers, notably to blunt the isolationism and anti-British sentiments so prevalent among many American progressives, while providing them with a vehicle for expression of their progressive view in literature, art, music, social reform, and even domestic politics. ... The chief achievement of The New Republic, however, in 1914-1918 and again in 1938-1948, was for interventionism in Europe and support of Great Britain.

The history of the New Republic and Freeport is an especially fertile area for nuts and conspiracy theorists of all kinds -- a couple of google searches will take you straight to a wide variety of Skull and Bones & Kennedy assassination conspiracy pages -- but the bottom line is that TNR was always a stalking-horse magazine. That is its raison d'etre.

Posted by: Randy Kirchhof on February 28, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

>>And that's too bad, because an awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage between their covers by their stubborn insistence that the U.S. military can remake the world.

Indeed.

After years of an on-again-off-again subscription cycle, I finally switched off for good.

Why? Because they sold my name like it was chewing gum to every left, far-left, every so-far-out-there-as-to-be-visible-only-from-the-vicinity- of-Alpha-Centauri group on the planet. I dreaded going to my mail box.

So I"d let my subscription lapse. It would take a year or so to stop the deluge of fundraising demands - for that's the tone many of these 'causes' take - demand.

I'd try again and find myself back in the spin cycle all over again.

"Hey, Center for Poverty Law, leave me alone! I mean it."

I finally wrote to the editor and said, in effect,

"I surrender - I just can't take it any more. I'm not some trust fund liberal with a bottomless bank account and no powers of discrimination. Enough already. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Lot's of luck. Bye."

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

What I mainly miss is that TNR kept my "You're so full of it, it's a wonder you don't leak" detector fully charged at all times.

Now I come over here - it's so entertaining.

Though I've noticed an alarming upswing in spam trying to alert me to stocks which are gonna go through the roof just any freaking second, I know that's not PA's fault.

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

If Hitler and the Soviet Union with a far greater capacity and willingness to directly impose its will through military action was unable to remake the world, then why would conservatives think they could?

In a phrase: Incompetence wrapped in arrogance inside a delusion.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 28, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still a relatively loyal subscriber to TNR, though they frequently piss me off. I have little use for anything Kaplan and Peretz write, but Crowley and Lizza are really good on inside-baseball politics and they still have some strong liberals like Chait and Judis.

More importantly for me, I like the back of the book even more than Atlantic Monthly (which has seriously declined). Wieseltier can be maddening in his personal writing, but I have to give him credit for my ever having heard of Wyslawa Szymborska and Adam Zagajewski, for example. And James Wood has to fit within Kevin's 80% as well.

Posted by: Dave MB on February 28, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I inherited loyalty to TNR from my parents. The front half of the magazine has driven me nuts for at least the last 15 years. I keep renewing my subcription regardless, out of a sort of inertia and the insight into a segment of the beltway incrowd.

The back half is why I keep reading it, especially Jed Perl. If I could just subscribe to "and the Arts", I would.

Posted by: PetervE on February 28, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm somewhat surprised about this sentence in the NYT article:
"Meanwhile, its historical role as a maypole for middle-way Democrats is under challenge from countless Web sites and bloggers."

What? TNR? Middle-way Democrats? Is this maybe a new euphemism for Lieberman fans? I only know TNR stories since 2000 or so, but it always struck me as a solidly rightwing publication. Have there really been serious voices who associated TNR with the liberals?

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I cancelled my subcription a few years ago unable to tolerate any more of Peretz's baldly racist views on the Palestinians. There was much that I rated in the TNR but every piece by Peretz about Israel/Palestine left a very bad taste which finally drove me away.

Posted by: timo on February 28, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

The shot at Kinsley was totally unwarranted. He's the best writer the magazine has produced in the last quarter century, and his refusal to fit his thinking into the liberal/conservative paradigm is one of his strengths. Even if you disagree with his points, he always is able to make the case for them.

The problem is that while the magazine was and is strong on domestic policy, Peretz and Wieseltier will always, always, always shape the magazine's foreign policy around the idea not just that every decision should be made with respect to whether it benefits Israel, but also around the idea that no one else in the world is sufficiently supportive of Israel. That just gets self-parodying after a while.

Posted by: Boots Day on February 28, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Did Peter Beinert get canned?

I don't care about the official explanation. What really happened to him?

Posted by: BigRiver on February 28, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Drove My Chevy to the Levee, but the Levee Was Gone"

Gotta concede Jonathan Chiat. I'd even consider taking up kicking my cat downstairs to be able to write half so well.

Almost.

But, then I went into a two week tailspin after reading 'Sophie's Choice" and not because of the inherent bathos of the subject matter...it was the virulent case of writer's envy I'd ever experienced to that point. I was devastated.

sigh

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

"The New Republic is the soul of what is left of the traditional Democratic Party."

I really doubt this. But even if it would be true, then maybe TNR has to die first to get out of the way so the Dems may jettison obsolete cargo overboard? Though I think TNR is already dead, but because of respect for the glorious past of the dear late mag, nobody talks about where that enormous stink comes from.

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

OK Dems, here is a challenge for you: Name one job assignment Michael Kinsley has had which didn't eventually blow up?

Posted by: MountainDan on February 28, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

^ 'most' between the and virulent.

Egads.

arrrgh

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

"his refusal to fit his thinking into the liberal/conservative paradigm is one of his strengths"

That's a good description of Kinley. Some may even say, it's not only refusal, but an active search for controversial issues, in order to play the beloved role of advocatus diablus again. One way or the other, that's the reason why Kinley isn't helpful for the Dems today. Facing an orchestrated, very close knit republican party, Dems need uniters today to counter that force. Kinley is a divider and as such he is more useful for the conservatives than for the liberals. Divide et impera...

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Back in the 1980's TNR ran several of my letters prominently, so I have a lingering feeling that they are a fading centrist institution out there in no man's land.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on February 28, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

oops, sry, of course it's "Kinsley". Yeah, I'm talking about the right guy, he of LA Times infame...

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The problem is that while the magazine was and is strong on domestic policy, Peretz and Wieseltier will always, always, always shape the magazine's foreign policy around the idea not just that every decision should be made with respect to whether it benefits Israel, but also around the idea that no one else in the world is sufficiently supportive of Israel. That just gets self-parodying after a while."

Word. I could write Peretz' columns myself most days. Usually, I read them by rolling my eyes at the byline.

Posted by: brewmn on February 28, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Though I think TNR is already dead, but because of respect for the glorious past of the dear late mag, nobody talks about where that enormous stink comes from."
Posted by: Gray

"Word. I could write Peretz' columns myself most days. Usually, I read them by rolling my eyes at the byline."
Posted by: brewmn

Rolling on the floor...

...reaches for a tissue

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I like Franklin Foer, and while it is difficult to judge from his writings, and he's a pretty quiet person in person, I wonder at his dynamism for leadership.
Still, he has some excellent reporting under his belt from the last decade, and in the last few years has shown an almost Knight-Ridder-grade facility for speaking the truth.
I certainly wish him and TNR all the best, and hope they all take the opportunity to spread their wings.

Posted by: Cassandro on February 28, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I dropped my subscription to the New Republic over their support of our current Mideast misadventure, and I'm not about to renew any time soon. How could all these "topnotch" talents have all been so stupid, so politically and morally blind, so bereft of common sense? (I suppose "knee-jerk contrarianism" - plus knee-jerk support for Israel - explains it, but really, who cares?) And at the time I couldn't help but remember how often they'd been wrong in the past, particularly in a crunch - remember their endorsement of John Anderson, to go way back, or Andrew Sullivan's hatchet job on the Clinton health plan, back in the 90s? Throw in their embarrassing episodes of plagiarism and "fabulism," and I'm afraid the verdict is pretty clear: these people are fools.

Posted by: Thomas Garvey on February 28, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin misses the point about TNR. The core of its problem is not its editors' faith in the American military's ability to remake the world, but their confusion over whether Israel is actually a foreign country.

Everything about conflicts in the Middle East looks different -- not to mention larger and more pressing -- to someone who thinks even a little bit of Israel as the center of their world. That's an observation, not a criticism; from an Israeli point of view it makes perfect sense that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or a hostile Syrian government (to say nothing of Hamas) would loom larger than much larger countries like China or Brazil, and of course it also makes sense that Israelis would want the full weight of American might arrayed against their enemies.

It is less clear that this makes sense from an American point of view. America is more important than Israel; mankind's future will center on what America does, not what happens on the West Bank. TNR's editors, led by Peretz, have not accepted this in the recent past. This is what has oftentimes devalued their commentary on foreign affairs.

Posted by: Zathras on February 28, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

TNR has always been a voice of liberal internationalism, going back to its founding. The problem is that there aren't many true liberal internationalists left right now. Bush discredited the position by co-opting it as part of his rationale for war in Iraq, even as he had his own conservative motives (preemptive war, projecting US power in the middle of the oil fields). Some liberal internationalists turned away from the brink (I'm assuming Drum, as well as Marshall and Yglesias fit here), but those that did not (like TNR) are stuck, since they became too identified with Bush's position. It's the kind of mistake that they can't really apologize for at this point. Maybe if TNR had residual goodwill they'd stand a chance, but they had too many earlier upheavals (Stephen Glass, anyone?) and too many other competitors.

I mean, why pay for TNR when I can get Slate for free?

Posted by: matt on February 28, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Shrub at 34%. Well, he said he was a uniter, and he was right. Everybody hates him!

What a riot. Truth indeed - Bush united the world against him and now most of the citizens of the US.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 28, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

I mean, why pay for TNR when I can get Slate for free?
Posted by: matt

Exactly so.

And they don't cause you to get 5 bulk mailed demands from Common Cause in a single day.

I finally collected so many of their mailings that I put them, unopened, into a small box, book rate, and sent the whole shooting match back to them.

Put in a little note asking how they could have any money left to actually accomplish anything of merit since it seemed that for every dollar they got they spent $.90 on mailings.

Peace at last!

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin, can't agree with you on this one. I cancelled my TNR subscription and have learned to hate the magazine because they've become in the main sneaky neo-cons.

80% is a far too generous estimate of the number of good writers. The percentage of dreck is more like 50 to 60%.

And the biggest reason was the whole plagirism and Glass episodes. What it made painfully clear is that you just couldn't trust what was written in TNR. And the prelude to the Iraq War proved that again. It was BS that they wrote - just flat our wrong, repeatedly.

But, I still think that Kinsley USED to be one of the great writers. Yes, he got it wrong occasionally, but more often that not, he made excellent points. But in the last few years he's completely fallen apart - very sad.

And lastly, didn't one of their editors launch a 'I-hate-Dean' website? Wasn't that kinda nasty? And in retrospect weren't all those hysterical accusations - hysterical.

So overall, TNR - good riddance. Hope the magazine goes bankrupt and Peretz loses his wife's money.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 28, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I subscribe to TNR.

Besides Chait, Foer, Cottle, Kaplan and Beinart...I also read it because Jed Perl is the best art critic writing today...bar none. Just look at the latest issue and look at who's writing book reviews....Kevin is right..there's no other magazine with that talent level.

Posted by: Nathan on February 28, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Well count me as a TNR loyalist. I enjoy the Magazine immensly and consider it indispensable, but acknowledge that they have lost much support among the vast swath of liberals who are hostile to the state of Israel and American military force. I never would have thought Franklin Foer would the head editor but it's probably a good political move. Foer has 'some' respect in the "Netroots" whereas Beinart's liberal internationalism made him universally loathed in the blogosphere.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on February 28, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your supporting statement for TNR sounds precisely like a description of ... the Democratic contingent in the Senate.

Hmmmm ...

Posted by: The Confidence Man on February 28, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dustin, please don't assume that you know the motices of ex-TNR readers. I don't hate Israel. Nor am I loathe to use military force.

Labeling people is a neo-con trick that TNR does all the time, and it's reprehensible.

I'm just not in favor of being stupid.

Heck, Israel wishes now that the US had never attacked Iraq.

And reminds me of one other thing that I always hated in TNR, even as a subscriber, those horrific movie reviews. Yeah, Moore was a better Bond than Connery. Any day...

And Sullivan, Kelly, Beinert. Oh, that was gibberish was just too painful to force oneself to read.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 28, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"And reminds me of one other thing that I always hated in TNR, even as a subscriber, those horrific movie reviews. Yeah, Moore was a better Bond than Connery."

What? Whuahahaha! So I guess they only also support that Craig guy, the actor who qualified for 007 by playing drug dealers and other criminals. :D

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

TNR isn't just conservative on foreign affairs, at least not when I stopped reading it in the early '90s. They were dependendably snarky toward feminists. They pounced on every alleged example of the "gender police," but ignored examples of misogyny and discrimination against women. They criticized restrictions against free speech on campuses, but never complained about right-wing attacks on free speech. Their attitude toward racial relations was that everything would be fine if those angry Negroes would just stop complaining and work hard.

It's one thing to provide a contrarian view, but that's all the magazine seemed to do. Eventually I came to feel that TNR was really on the conservatives' side. And since I was witnessing the Republican party being taken over by lunatics at about this time, I was highly offended by TNR's choice of allies.

Posted by: ChristianPinko on February 28, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Still, it's good to see some "Lieberman Dems" come around and finally see the light."

Let's put an emphasis on "finally"! I hope they'll switch to "independent" after the elections this year, this wouldn't be so misleading as the oxymoron "Lieberman Dem's".
Support Ned Lamont!

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

??? Did someone delete comments here?

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, sry, I'm the idiot here! Wrong thread! My bad...

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"I have to disagree, I don't find TNR maddening, I find it mediocre. I don't think 80% of the staff is "top notch", I find them all average writers who are so involved with putting novel little curliques on conventional wisdom that they miss the big picture.

The whole point of being a writer in a political journal is either to explain complicated subjects clearly, or to offer a novel perspective on the issues of the day. Their pieces are recycled cardboard that are slightly less superficial than Time magazine."

Posted by: HankP on

HankP, you forgot patting themselve on the back by sucking up to power, and calling it courageous contrarianism. But other than that, good call.

Posted by: Barry on February 28, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

What? Whuahahaha! So I guess they only also support that Craig guy, the actor who qualified for 007 by playing drug dealers and other criminals. :D
Posted by: Gray

Then you'll love the little snippet at the Fix on Salon says the guy's practically incapacitated by...wait for it...heat rash.

Posted by: CFShep on February 28, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep, searched at the Salon's Fix, found nothing about Bond since 2003. Where is it?

Posted by: Gray on February 28, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"...awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage between their covers by their stubborn insistence that the U.S. military can remake the world."
Kevin Drum


"Well is the U.S. military won't. Al Qaeda certainly will.

And if liberal democratic capitalism cannot find an answer to Islamic insurgency, something else will."
Posted by: McA on February 28, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK


Of course there's nothing in our Constitution which authorizes the government to do any of that international reshaping. But leaving that aside, I wonder if it's really a good idea for so few people (a U.S. administration) to have such power to reshape the world. We don't want Al Qaeda to have that power. We didn't want the Soviets to have it. We stopped Hitler from having it. But, somehow we trust Dubya?

Anyway, we wouldn't get far in reshaping the world without the help and assistance of other countries, so why should we fear Al Qaeda could do a lot of permanent damage (aside from things like the 9/11 attacks) without anyone's help? It's silly.

What should be the answer to the insurgent Islamic militants? Maybe there should be a public discussion about the issue. Up to now it's all been in the hands of a very few NeoCons whom the nation is now beginning to distrust and disparage. To argue that "something else will" is a disgusting anti-American insinuation. You should be ashamed.

We can deal with the problem, and may already have done away with the original Al Qaeda group. But, leaving Bush in charge is dangerous. They outed Valerie Plame which destroyed a piece of our spy networks we were using to track nukes and now they're creating a second larger Al Qaeda in Iraq. Is that his intention? Does he want the war to go on to make profits or to destroy our military? Why should we ever trust Dubya and the Republicans on foreign policy after this debacle? Maybe a dictatorship with W as the dictator isn't such a hot idea after all.

OTOH, there's a large rift in the Democratic party, one which wasn't so obvious until Kerry said the Iraq war plan wasn't so bad, about how to deal with the issue. If only the Dems could get together on a solution, then the nation might stand a chance in opposing Bushites. Unfortunately it seems some Dems, perhaps those with presidential hopes, see fit to support the war policy and leave the Bushies firmly in charge. I hope they enjoy being under Dubya's boot.

The answer to a dysfunctional Democracy isn't "something else", it's MORE Democracy.

Posted by: MarkH on February 28, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, sentimentalism hurts you as a voice for change.

I don't give a red cent for TNR's art reviews. I view them as an arm of the DLC - in other words, I hold them directly responsible for sabotaging the 2002 and 2004 elections with active cowardice and active hostility towards democrats brave enough to differentiate from republicrats.

The have absolutely been coopted by neoconservatives, and I can't think of any stance they take that could in any way be called progressive. They believe in unfettered global capitalism, US military domination, and they have a knee-jerk disdain for anyone who cares about the societally neglected and dares to be angry about it.

They are functionally equivalent to Republicans, but far worse because of the way in which they distort honest democratic views and crowd them out of visibility. They are the Joe Lieberman of the blogosphere. The only good thing they could do for progressives is declare bankruptcy and go into hiding. They're saboteurs. Their endorsement of Kerry over Bush seemed like a 51/49 decision, and whatever reasons they liked him were the reasons one should not have liked him.

Bah. We're all better off when no one links to them anymore. One thing we can all agree on is that they're a dying breed.

Posted by: glasnost on February 28, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH This blog has its own unique comments signature ; that's why a Canadian is telling you a Malay was yanking your chain (noisy teen).

Posted by: opit on February 28, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

The answer to a dysfunctional Democracy isn't "something else", it's MORE Democracy.

Posted by: MarkH on February 28, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Why?

Posted by: McA on February 28, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

As has been pointed out, the problem with TNR is its demented attitude to the Israel-Palestine issue, focussing on enabling the colonisation of Jerusalem and the West Bank and laughing at the colonised and ethnically cleansed Palestinians in a way that is reminiscent of Afrikaaner attitudes to black South Africans. As US policy towards the Middle East becomes more central to our political discourse, a magazine which is practically an AIPAC handout with its profusion of 'coutner-intuitive' fake debate amongst writers who all agree that Israel must keep its colonies in Jerusalem and that the Palestinians deserve whatever Israel gives them has become less and less useful. Foer will be exactly the same. He even managed to turn a book about soccer into a way of sneering at European anti-semitism (now as bad as the 1930s!) and Iranians.

Posted by: otto on March 1, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

CFShep, searched at the Salon's Fix, found nothing about Bond since 2003. Where is it?
Posted by: Gray

Sorry for delay - signed off for the day. It was after all Mardi Gras.

http://www.salon.com/ent/col/fix/2006/02/28/tue/
The woes of nouveau James Bond actor Daniel Craig continue: He's come down with a case of prickly heat. A source told the Sun: "He constantly wants to scratch. It's worst when he does a costume change. He's in agony." (Sky News)

Posted by: CFShep on March 1, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

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