Tuesday, June 29, 2004

86'd: I just got off the phone to cancel my subscription to The New Republic. No, I'm not offended by anything they wrote. It's not a matter of protest. I just don't have time to read it anymore. But I used to make time for it. TNR used to be the go-to magazine for serious liberal thought, as opposed to the sort of crypto-marxist effluent that pours from the Nation or Mother Jones. It was well-written opinion, good analysis, and the last bastion of Democratic internationalism in the face of the loony ludditism and isolationism that dominates the peace movement, the anti-globalization goofs, and the enviromental absolutists. For those reasons, TNR was a compelling read. But things stand differently now.

On the war, TNR seems mostly cheesed that Bush has adopted (and the Democrats have criticized) a foreign policy with liberal goals. They cannot lay out Bush's international strategy without reminding us that Bush campaigned explicitly against nation building. Meanwhile, though they supported the war, they editorialize against the war itself as a mismanaged, misguided affair. (You'd think we bombed the Chinese embassy or something.) It's getting old.

As for politics, during the primaries, TNR endorsed Joe Lieberman, but they still engaged a writer to give a personal endorsement of each candidate. Except Kerry. Yes, they've criticized Kerry, rightly, on a number of issues; but now they are closing ranks behind the boring botoxed brahmin. I'm not particularly enamored of Bush, but I can at least see that, in the near term, a vote for Bush is closer to a vote for Lieberman (whom I also endorsed) than is a vote for Kerry.

On domestic policy, I've never particularly agreed with TNR, but I've respected the opinions published there. As the magazine has swung behind Kerry, it has adopted the sort of language that doesn't belong in a serious debate. Rolling back the Bush tax cuts? Please. As I've argued, the tax cuts are law. Have the stones to argue for tax hikes if you believe Americans aren't paying enough. Another article about Bush's disastrous environmental record? Ho-hum. The only one on staff at TNR who has made sense on this is Easterbrook, who has wisely praised the administration's trade-off of scope for effectiveness (like dumping counterproductive and impractical mandates in favor of cap-and-trade solutions that may in theory work slower, but in practice make a bigger difference). But the only space he got was in his quasi-official, and now defunct, blog.

To be fair, I ditched National Review earlier this year for similar reasons. (NR's big bugaboo, gay marriage, resulted in some articles that were borderline offensive.) And it's not the partisanship I dislike. (The Weekly Standard is partisan, and a good read to boot. Plus, they frequently, but constructively, broke with their nominal party over the Iraq war.) It is simply that it is becoming an infrequent thing that I pick up TNR (or NR) and read an article that surprises or enlightens me. If I read the first paragraph and can accurately predict the tired tropes of the argument to come, it's not worth my time.

1 comment:

Razor said...

I think Michael Moore is coming out with a periodical, so you know, maybe wait for that one. He rarely lets an uneducated opinion get in the way of good, solid reporting.