The New Republic, Marty Peretz, Lando Calrissian
December 16th, 2014

We’ve got two interesting pieces this week about the end of the New Republic, one from Ryan Lizza, the other from John Judis. If you want to read my long thoughts on the subject, they ran in last week’s newsletter, here. The short version is that what worries me is that this may be a generational problem, and not just a New Republic problem.

In other words: Millennials < Boomers?

Now there’s a frightening thought.

Moving on, what struck me most in these two post mortems is a little nugget from Judis in which he mentions that he and owner Marty Peretz were not on speaking terms, owing to their widely divergent views on Israel. Think about that for a moment.

In many of the pieces lamenting the demise of TNR people have gone out of their way to qualify their praise by noting what a terrible, awful human being Marty Peretz was/is. Max Fisher at Vox called him “monstrous.”

Yet Peretz was broad-minded enough that he employed, for years, someone to whom was diametrically opposed on what was, to him, the central political issue of his time. He was so opposed to Judis’ views on Israel that he wouldn’t talk to him, but he continued to pay his salary because he thought that Judis’ talents made him, on balance, an asset to the magazine.

That’s amazingly tolerant and is the kind of forbearance that we ought to celebrate in an owner. The fact that he has been, instead, condemned, tells you an awful lot about the rigidity of today’s liberalism.

One other note: Up until the Lizza and Judis pieces appeared, Richard Just had been TNR’s George Lazenby–the editor completely ignored in accounts of What Went Wrong. I don’t quite understand why that is. To my eyes, the TNR Just put out was a better magazine than any of the other versions in my time in Washington. Substantively better than Sullivan’s TNR; light years better than the Beinart TNR; and a little bit better than Foer’s. Add to that the fact that we now know that Just was the first person inside the New Republic to understand who and what Chris Hughes was–and that he tried to stop him.

In a way, Richard Just is a bit like the New Republic’s Lando Calrissian: He made an arrangement with the Dark Side under duress in order to preserve his city in the clouds. You can practically hear the exchange:

Just: You said they’d be left at the city under my supervision!
Hughes: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.

I wonder why Just hasn’t been praised for his prescience and recognized as the first guy to get screwed by Hughes.

  1. Nedward December 20, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I hadn’t read your newsletter take on this till now– wow, have you gone native… To people not invested in that scene TNR’s brand was almost as self-important, melodramatic, & overrated as another 3-letter institution helmed by Lorne Michaels (and *especially* in the Sullivan years). You don’t see how the proto-juice screeds of the non-literary front-of-the-book featured players set the benchmark for today’s squealing e-left? Chait, the guy with the puppets? GawkFeed Voxsplanatory is merely the “Young Loud & Snotty” to Peretz’s “Too Much Too Soon” crew. The part of the magazine symbiotic w/ Wieseltier’s part was consistently bratty a la Median Age 26 of journalism legend. Your praise for (the snide, hyperpartisan) Ioffe is awkward, since it was Hughes paying her international expense account, for many stylish adventures. Hughes might be just a baby himself but perhaps sufficient exposure to the immature ego cases at the office was an awakening of sorts. Now that the D.C. intellectuals grabbed the ball & ran home he may just say screw it. I hope he does.

    90s The Progressive and 00s Mother Jones were both way better mags.. But yeah, yeah, they lacked all the back-of-the-book thumbsuckers about that time Daniel Bell and Victor Serge were arguing about Maimonides, or whatever