Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Vaya Con Dios, Mr. Peretz

Or, Why TNR Will Sail On Without Me

A few months ago I decided to try to renew an old friendship.

Some years back I subscribed to The New Republic. Slowly, as our viewpoints diverged and theirs seemed less congenial, I let the subscription expire. It was sad, though, like lettting a friend go.

Wanting to see what they were up to these days, and hoping the divergence might have narrowed, I decided to subscribe to their email letter.

Big mistake. We were even further apart than before. Still, it made me sad. So when Mr. Peretz wrote to me (I’m “Dear Reader”) I felt compelled to answer him.

Here you see the first part of his email to me. Below is my answer.

  ----- Original Message -----
From: Marty Peretz
To: dymphna@chromatism.net
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 3:28 PM
Subject: The New Republic Makes History

Dear Reader,

The New Republic makes history all the time, important history. Last week was a case in point. The indictment by the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney…

Mr. Peretz:

I began to subscribe to your email letter a while ago, hoping that an old friend — which TNR was, once — might have something that I could read and enjoy. Sadly, that has not turned out to be the case.

This Plame/Libby diversion is a good example of exactly why I’m not interested. Why do I care who back-stabbed whom? High school is over.

And SCOTUS doesn’t move me either. Whoever it is that finally hops up on the bench is of no concern to me because they cannot solve the main issues facing our country.

Here are my concerns:

  ·  the metastasis of government into every cell of our commonweal.
  ·  the need for tax reform yesterday.
  ·  the incompetence and inability to respond of our top-heavy bureaucratic “emergency defenses” — you might try reading Annie Jacobsen.
  ·  the imminent fate of Israel.

Now if you were publishing essays which explained how SCOTUS might find our present tax system unconstitutional, or that the size of government was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind — well, I’d be the first in line for a renewal.

But Scooter? Good Lord, man, get a life.

No, nothing there for me in TNR... Sometimes friendships die and we have to replace them. So I did — with City Journal.

It makes me sad that we went in different directions, but there it is. To me, TNR is not “making” history. Along with much of the legacy media, TNR is history.

This phenomenon must be very difficult to perceive from the inside, Mr. Peretz.

Thanks for the memories,



Oscar in Kansas said...

I've been a subscriber for more than 10 years and I'll probably not renew it. Peretz is probably the best writer left in the magazine. It's not just Scooter story. I forgive them for covering that. It is a Washington-based weekly after all. But the recent Andrew Sullivan cover story on the End of Gay Culture? Please. The End of Me Giving a Crap. That cannot be the most important or interesting topic of the week.

It's sad too because during the 1990s (ironically when Sullivan was editor) TNR was the best weekly around, filled with insight and caustic wit. Now it's witless and harsh, filled with trivial and petty bitching. Except for the occasional piece by Peretz, usually about Israel, I let the issues pile up on the coffee table. I'm using a recent issue right now as a coaster for my Bass Ale.

Dymphna said...

So many magazines moved more overtly left that it became a waste of time to plow through them. That's why Wm Buckley's mag celebrating its 50th year is really something.

I find the Spectator often too ad hominem for my tastes, and too sneering. There's not enough, shall we say, nuance. Tom Bethell is usually good, however.

But there are some good small magazines out there: for those of a theological/cultural bent, I recommend First Things. You can look at it on line. And the Claremont Institute puts out a good one, too.

Oh, right--- the Weekly Standard.

The conservative publishing biz is flourishing even as the mass market weeklies (and dailies for that matter) lose traffic.

My favorite is City Journal. It's very attractive graphically and has a wide range of essays. The parts about NYC/state don't interest me that much, but the rest of it is first rate and worth the buy...anyone wants my back copies, let me know.

American Scholar used to be wonderful but I haven't read it in years. It's the Phi Beta Kappa mag and my m.i.l. subscribed. Pricey, though.

Atlantic Monthly isn't the same since Michael Kelly died.

Wally Ballou said...

I think you are very wrong not to be concerned about the Supreme Court pick - I don't want them to "solve our problems" - I want them to quit trying. They aren't ephors - they are supposed to weigh law, not make it. Justices in the Scalia/Thomas/Alito mold are what we need. These are the first justices in a long time who have questioned the legitimacy of the government 's authority under the Commerce clause to insert itself into every aspect of American life. If we are going to resurrect the Constitution in any form, it will only be with the help of Justices who respect the Constitution.

That said, I am certainly not interested in what Marty Peretz thinks about SCOTUS, or anything else. And Scooter's "high crimes" are very thin gruel for a "2nd-term scandal".

Wally Ballou said...

I believe I can add "Roberts" to that list, too. Not the kind of justice who will embrace the kind if extra-consitutional novelties to which Bryer, Souter and Ruth Buzzi Ginsburg are so addicted.

Baron Bodissey said...

Mr. Hanson -- My vote will not go out to a Democrat anytime soon. But often these days I don't recognize the Republicans. The highway bill? Medicare prescription drugs? No Child Left Behind? McCain-Feingold?

What happened to the party of fiscal prudence and the First Amendment?

We do indeed live in interesting times.

Dymphna said...

Wally B and a4g --

I stand corrected, sirs. The Supreme Court *is* important, as in the last ruling on imminent domain. Not to mention the idea floating around in the building that we should be looking at international laws as a guide.

In fact, as I consider it, every time I read another dumb ruling, I say a little prayer that Congress can straighten their asses out.

Wally B -- I hope your view of the immediate future of the court is correct. Since you are usually my mentor in things fundamentally political -- ie, your predictions are usually right so I end up having to pay attention -- I feel somewhat encouraged.

Jesse Clark said...

"Why do I care who back-stabbed whom? High school is over."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I for one am tired of sifting through the frivolous nonsense (read: crap) that has become so commonplace in the political discussion of our time. Just this morning I had to sit through one of my history professors attempting to connect the Scooter Libby indictment with the history of Islam, (which is what the class is supposed to be about). That and the required Juan Cole readings have just about driven me insane.

By the way, vdhanson, you wouldn't happen to be THE vdhanson, would you?

Dymphna said...

Jesse Clark:

YOu wouldn't consider changing schools would you? There are some excellent private ones with good aid packages...the Baron's Boy is at a state school, but it's where his daddy went and all that.

Besides, it's not too terribly awful. THey have ROTC and have refused to change the pc incorrect name of their ath. teams. So go Tribe.

Think about it....

Arcane said...

I ditched my subscription to TNR a few weeks ago, that is, after having it for the past 4 years. It seems that they're more interested in competing with The American Prospect than standing up for the bold Cold War liberalism of the New Democrats.

Arcane said...

Atlantic Monthly isn't the same since Michael Kelly died.

There's still one good thing about it that makes it worth the price: Robert D. Kaplan.

Jesse Clark said...


Funny you should mention it, because I DO attend a private school. Apparently this garbage knows no bounds.

However, I could never change schools just because mine has fallen prey to this sort of nonsense. To me, it would be like admitting defeat and retreating to some ideological safe-haven rather than taking a stand against the enemy.

I've always believed that life is better spent as a warrior than anything else.

Dymphna said...

kirk parker:

I don't understand your comment. Could you please explain?

Who are your quoting? Is it on this thread?

What is un-debunking and of whom?

I'm confused.

Dymphna said...

kirk parker--

Speaking of quotes, all I can say is "read the book." Not only her experience, but reports from other people on the plane with her, correspondence she has received from pilots and flight attendants, Federal Air Marshalls who are demoralized by the stupidly bureaucratic rules which not only make them stand out like sore thumbs on flights but also make them vulnerable.

Pilots and attendants are demoralized. Any training they get has to be on their own time, their own dime, and they have to travel to get their training. A friend of mine, a flight attendant, describes horror stories about her work. I'm trying to convince her that she's a smart and attractive woman who could do something else with her life but she has complicated emotional reasons for continuing in the biz, part of which include loyalty to her dead friends from 9/11. She's at least aware what a bad decision it is, even if she hasn't the emotional ability to leave.

I haven't yet read any dismissal of her --other than ad hominem "hysterical soccer mom" remarks -- that are able to refute her experience in any credible way. And her ("hysterical soccer dad")husband was a lot more scared than she was, and a lot earlier.

Did you read the four hour interview the FBI had with her in which they admitted she'd probably experienced a probe? The pros in the business say these go on routinely.

The "other side" of the story would have more credence if they operated with any obvious competence but they don't. Airport security is a huge joke -- it's been meat for professional comedians for several years now. The official decision not to "profile" travellers may be one of the most profoundly stupid ideas in this century. But it's a young century; perhaps someone will emerge with an even dumber idea. Give them time.

BTW, a good group of people to talk to would be those employees charged with cleaning the planes. Some of the things they find are surprising, but no one has done an in-depth report. They could start with the incidents of bathroom mirrors removed in attempts to access the flight deck.