The Weekly Standard, R.I.P.

 

Today, Philip Anschutz shut down The Weekly Standard. I, for one, wish that he had refrained from doing so. I do not mean to say that I agree with the stance Bill Kristol has taken with regard to Trump. I have known Bill for decades, and I have a great deal of respect for him. But I think him in error. Trump’s flaws are obvious, but the available alternatives are worse — and the man has not only done a number of good things. He has also forced a rethinking of post-Cold war policies with regard to the economy and our posture in the larger world that have pretty obviously failed.

But whether or not I think Bill right or in error on this point does not matter much. He founded and for quite a number of years edited a magazine that was nearly always thoughtful and a pleasure to read. Steve Hayes, who took it over when Trump became President, has done a terrific job, and there is nothing out there that will replace it.

If you doubt my testimony, dig up the 17 December issue (which reached my mailbox today), and read the cover story on Cory Booker. It is both entertaining and enlightening. Read the reviews as well. They have been more often than not been fascinating. The death of a little intellectual magazine of quality is a great misfortune. There are very few places left to which one can turn.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 66 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive
    The (apathetic) King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I’ve already seen gloating by some on the right over its demise.

    • #1
  2. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive
    Neil Hansen (Klaatu)
    @Klaatu

    JPod has his take here.  It is clearly (and understandably) personal for him.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I subscribed for several years and still have the baseball cap, probably the best one I ever had. But I let my subscription lapse in the 2000s when the Bush Worship finally got to be too much.  Thought about resubscribing now and then, but never did. 

    • #3
  4. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I was also a subscriber years ago. What a shame, for so many reasons.

    • #4
  5. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    I’m in the odd situation of not being a Trump fan but also never having warmed to the Weekly Standard. Probably makes me a constituency of one.

    But in any case, I don’t see the tragedy of a niche journal folding in the digital age. The transmission of an author’s written words to readers’ eyeballs around the world is now cheaper and easier than ever. Writers – of any political persuasion – who can write in an interesting and engaging manner will always find an audience.

    This is doubly so in the case of the Weekly Standard, which seemed to share many of its authors with numerous other peer publications. I can’t help but imagine that its talented authors (people like Andy Ferguson) will quickly find a demand for their work elsewhere, even if the price tag is somewhat lower. As for the rest, I don’t have much sympathy for hum-drum pundits in an already oversaturated punditry market.

    • #5
  6. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Should be interesting to see if the tone at Commentary changes. We’ll see how “principled” they are or if more Leftist billionaires  will pick up the slack.

    Ace of Spades coverage and analysis has been delicious.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I read it not long after it came out, when I was taking the Metra into the Loop every day. I enjoyed it, but fell away when my employment changed. Of late, it hadn’t had the edge it started with.

    • #7
  8. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    The Standard communicated the view of one particular family of political thought, that provided some level of intellectual answer to the totalitarian creep, perhaps the only one possible in its time and context. Politics evolve, tho, and that particular family of thought hasn’t. Whatever the reason, whether the neo’s con was always conditional on genuflection and lucre or whether Kristol just needs his prescription adjusted, that line of thought is no longer relevant and neither is the Standard.

    • #8
  9. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I never subscribed, but the website was on my daily visit list for several years.  I drifted away before Obama came on the scene, as it was rubbing me wrong all the time.  I could count on the Instapundit and a few others to link to the rare gem from it.  Lately, what little I saw of it was depressingly obsessive.

    I haven’t missed it in years, and won’t miss it now.  On balance, for the conservative policies I would like to see our country pursue, I count this a win.  And it was accomplished via market forces, the best judge of general fitness we know.

    • #9
  10. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    I think I’ve subscribed to a dozen conservative or libertarian periodicals over the years, although I subscribed to most of those just before or around the time that The Weekly Standard was getting off the ground and before the Internet really took off a few years after that.  I was still trying to understand my own beliefs and the beliefs of others back then.

    I was never a fan or a subscriber of The Weekly Standard, although I’m sure not sure why.

    National Review seemed like the better magazine or the best magazine at times to me.  I wasn’t quite sure why a duplicate was needed, especially after Rich Lowry became editor of NR.

    The word “Weekly” might have been part of its downfall, at least for me.  I think I often prefer to read such magazines monthly of every other week at most.  I think only the diehard insiders like to read that much politics!

    I was also probably more isolationist than the typical conservative in the 1990s and more interventionist than the typical conservative these days, although that doesn’t mean that I am not hawkish regarding immigration issues or certain military spending and Constitutional streamlining and structuring.

    Just as all or most jobs that can be shipped overseas and turned over to robots will eventually vanish through creative destruction, all or most magazines and newspapers will be absorbed into the Internet in the same fashion.

    Magazine writers will be paid less and will probably have to expand their skills and take a few part-time jobs, but the republic will survive.

    RIP TWS

    • #10
  11. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    They used to have a great weekly newsletter and it led me to correspond with Jay Cost during the Trump election and primaries.  But since 2015 it really lost its edge.

    I will say I was never much of a neo con and the price of subscription was just to high for a Canadian.

    • #11
  12. ParisParamus Inactive
    ParisParamus
    @ParisParamus

    Not even a teeny tiny violin. Not even an atomic particle violin.

    • #12
  13. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I just think it’s a shame that Kristol lost his mind.

    • #13
  14. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    There was The Weekly Standard and there was Bill Kristol. Unfortunately, many people cannot think of the former without associating with the latter. 

    Back in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was the loathsome pre-Trump bogey man, Kristol said this to the Washington Post:

    “Someone needs to stand up and defend the Establishment. In the last couple of weeks, there’s been too much pseudo-populism, almost too much concern and attention for, quote, the people — that is, the people’s will, their prejudices and their foolish opinions. And in a certain sense, we’re all paying the price for that now. . . . After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons.

    “We at the Weekly Standard are pulling up the drawbridge against the peasants. I may need to get myself pitchfork insurance.”

    The honest-to-God truth is that Kristol has always hated us, we rubes who went to state schools, those of us who are more likely to stay with their Aunt Martha than stay on Martha’s Vineyard. He has always thought of us as the racist bastards who had to be fed a bogus string of promises to keep us in line.

    Well somewhere between 1996 and 2016, the rubes figured it out. Was it the job losses? The open borders? The 6,700 dead and 52,000 injured in two wars without definition of victory? Or was it the opioid crisis? I mean, take your pick – and add them to a long string of promises on abortion, healthcare and a thousand other points of light unfulfilled and you have the roots of a Trump victory. 

    Now we’re to lament that his lordship may have taken a pitchfork up the rear? What’s the matter, Bill? Wasn’t that pitchfork insurance mandated?

    Let him eat cake.

    • #14
  15. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    EJHill (View Comment):

    There was The Weekly Standard and there was Bill Kristol. Unfortunately, many people cannot think of the former without associating with the latter.

    Back in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was the loathsome pre-Trump bogey man, Kristol said this to the Washington Post:

    “Someone needs to stand up and defend the Establishment. In the last couple of weeks, there’s been too much pseudo-populism, almost too much concern and attention for, quote, the people — that is, the people’s will, their prejudices and their foolish opinions. And in a certain sense, we’re all paying the price for that now. . . . After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons.

    “We at the Weekly Standard are pulling up the drawbridge against the peasants. I may need to get myself pitchfork insurance.”

    The honest-to-God truth is that Kristol has always hated us, we rubes who went to state schools, those of us who are more likely to stay with their Aunt Martha than stay on Martha’s Vineyard. He has always thought of us as the racist bastards who had to be fed a bogus string of promises to keep us in line.

    Well somewhere between 1996 and 2016, the rubes figured it out. Was it the job losses? The open borders? The 6,700 dead and 52,000 injured in two wars without definition of victory? Or was it the opioid crisis? I mean, take your pick – and add them to a long string of promises on abortion, healthcare and a thousand other points of light unfulfilled and you have the roots of a Trump victory.

    Now we’re to lament that his lordship may have taken a pitchfork up the rear? What’s the matter, Bill? Wasn’t that pitchfork insurance mandated?

    Let him eat cake.

    There aren’t enough “likes” in the universe to give to this comment. Well done, E.J.

    The inside-the-beltway elitism of Kristol became particularly annoying. Trump was, as they say, living rent free in his head and the heads of some of his like-minded cohorts, who became so obsessed with Trump’s boorishness and constant self-aggrandizement, that they reached the point of paranoid delusion when their commentary conjured up of vast swaths of imaginary white nationalists who they were convinced comprised the core of Trump’s base. Gentlemanly manners were preferred to the uncouth lout who didn’t behave as gentrified noble; but as others came to find had enough sense to know that America’s defenses had been dangerously weakened, that she had been taken advantage of and sneered at by so-called allies, and had been suckered into propping up the terrorist regime of Iran, or into a pact designed to redistribute American wealth to somehow thwart an illusory phantom Climate Change menace. Despite all of Trump’s faults, other more pragmatic conservatives also understood that he also had the willingness to begin to defund and defang the regulatory regime that Leftist socialist-sympathizing Democrats had grown and that even The Weekly Standard would occasionally defend. The publication’s support of a carbon tax was quite disappointing while quite revealing. Kristol is also convinced that the nation is ready for a John Kasich or Jeff Flake alternative to Trump. They are so much more well behaved, you see. Good luck with that.

    The original conception of the Founders and the Framers was that there wouldn’t be a permanent ruling class of elites but that members of Congress and others would come to Washington, would serve a short period of time and then return to farming, raising livestock or re-engage with some aspect of the business sector. There are few in the elite beltway punditocracy who claim firm conservative credentials but who have bought into the notion that the federal government isn’t as powerful or far-reaching as it could be and that an additional tax, program, regulation, or new agency are things for which the dullards in flyover country should be grateful. Some of these beltway elites probably need to spend a few years working a farm or tending to cattle or clearing deadwood in forests or working on a fishing trawler off the Alaskan coast; and occasionally drive a battered pick-up into a town to get their mail or to have a beer or two with other farmers, ranch hands, or fishermen and re-engage with Americans who they’ve come to disdain. It might do wonders for their respective souls and it would have the added benefit that in that time away from the beltway they wouldn’t be able to water down what it means to be a conservative.

    • #15
  16. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Been a subscriber for a couple of years, but I had to cover the cover with Booker’s mug on it.

    • #16
  17. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    EJHill (View Comment):

    There was The Weekly Standard and there was Bill Kristol. Unfortunately, many people cannot think of the former without associating with the latter.

    Back in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was the loathsome pre-Trump bogey man, Kristol said this to the Washington Post:

    “Someone needs to stand up and defend the Establishment. In the last couple of weeks, there’s been too much pseudo-populism, almost too much concern and attention for, quote, the people — that is, the people’s will, their prejudices and their foolish opinions. And in a certain sense, we’re all paying the price for that now. . . . After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons.

    “We at the Weekly Standard are pulling up the drawbridge against the peasants. I may need to get myself pitchfork insurance.”

    The honest-to-God truth is that Kristol has always hated us, we rubes who went to state schools, those of us who are more likely to stay with their Aunt Martha than stay on Martha’s Vineyard. He has always thought of us as the racist bastards who had to be fed a bogus string of promises to keep us in line.

    Well somewhere between 1996 and 2016, the rubes figured it out. Was it the job losses? The open borders? The 6,700 dead and 52,000 injured in two wars without definition of victory? Or was it the opioid crisis? I mean, take your pick – and add them to a long string of promises on abortion, healthcare and a thousand other points of light unfulfilled and you have the roots of a Trump victory.

    Now we’re to lament that his lordship may have taken a pitchfork up the rear? What’s the matter, Bill? Wasn’t that pitchfork insurance mandated?

    Let him eat cake.

    I shouldn’t bother. I don’t even know why I read this. You are putting what Bill said in the worst possible light. I wouldn’t have put it so bluntly, for fear that it be misunderstood. But all Kristol is saying is that we are not a populist country; we are a republic. And, to the extent we turn populist, it is the beginning of the end. 

    • #17
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    George Townsend: But all Kristol is saying is that we are not a populist country; we are a republic.

    For a man who has never exhibited any charity towards Trump’s bluntness, suddenly you need to twist Kristol’s rare moments of honesty into something it was clearly not.

    He meant every damned word. 

    • #18
  19. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    EJHill (View Comment):

    George Townsend: But all Kristol is saying is that we are not a populist country; we are a republic.

    For a man who has never exhibited any charity towards Trump’s bluntness, suddenly you need to twist Kristol’s rare moments of honesty to something it was clearly not.

    He meant every damned word.

    Nor will I. Ever. That is beside the point.

    The point is that of course Kristol meant it. I never said he didn’t. What I said was the I would have said it differently. You just will never understand. I’m sorry I tried to engage. My bad, as the younger folk would say.

    • #19
  20. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    And, oh yeah, Trump is a mean SOB who never tried to make a point. He just singles out people for the “crime” of not worshiping him!

    • #20
  21. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    George Townsend: What I said was the I would have said it differently.

    Reread your comment, George. You clearly gave Kristol’s words meaning that they did not have. There’s nothing there about America being a “republic.”  He says that there is a ruling class not to be questioned by “quote – the people.”

    Maybe in your world the Constitution begins “We, ‘the People…’”

    • #21
  22. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    My problem with the Kristol type of Republicans, is that they were always happy to take the Pat Buchanan vote, as long as it sat on the back of the bus and shut up.  

    The idea that they would ever get to have a say was quite abhorent to them.

    I at least appreciate the Nixon realists.  The populists had a place and they might even get to drive the bus every so often even if it leads to a Goldwater disaster.  

    • #22
  23. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    We used to have a subscription, but let it lapse years ago.  I can’t remember why, but we never really missed it.

    What I really miss is the print version of The American Spectator.  I’m not into online magazines, so I guess I have a soft spot for holding something in my hands when I read, other than a computer . . .

    • #23
  24. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    EJHill (View Comment):

    George Townsend: What I said was the I would have said it differently.

    Reread your comment, George. You clearly gave Kristol’s words meaning that they did not have. There’s nothing there about America being a “republic.” He says that there is a ruling class not to be questioned by “quote – the people.”

    Maybe in your world the Constitution begins “We, ‘the People…’”

    You never cease to amaze me, EJHill. You do not have to mention a particular word  for thinking people to understand what you are getting at. Just to try to illuminate for a second: No one is referring to a ruling class; we threw off those bonds with out Revolution. What he is saying is that we elect people to represent us; and we should leave them free to give us their judgement. It is right out of Edmund Burke.

    A little bit of thought, instead of fulminating, is all that is required. 

    Have a good life, E. J.

    • #24
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    “Lords and Barons.” Words mean things, George. 

    • #25
  26. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    The honest-to-God truth is that Kristol has always hated us, we rubes who went to state schools, those of us who are more likely to stay with their Aunt Martha than stay on Martha’s Vineyard. He has always thought of us as the racist bastards who had to be fed a bogus string of promises to keep us in line.

    Darn, just as I was beginning to feel good about myself, I had to read the paragraph above.  I went to state schools and stayed with my Aunt Flossie.  Now I’m in a funk.

    • #26
  27. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    I’m getting really sick of this needless class warfare.

    I grew up in New England, attended a big-name prep school, went to an expensive private college, and spent many of my summers on the islands off Cape Cod. And yet I also find Bill Kristol to be an insufferable, disconnected, uninteresting writer.

    George Will, too.

    In any case, bickering about Kristol’s pedigree is somewhat ridiculous considering that he and Trump have essentially identical backgrounds compared with most of the people in this thread complaining about Kristol. 

    • #27
  28. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Mendel: In any case, bickering about Kristol’s pedigree is somewhat ridiculous considering that he and Trump have essentially identical backgrounds compared with most of the people in this thread complaining about Kristol. 

    I wouldn’t consider them identical. Had Trump gone to Harvard, served as chief of staff to a US Vice President and not spent his life dealing with the corruption of big city real estate deals there would be a different man in the Oval Office now. (And it certainly wouldn’t be Trump.) 

    • #28
  29. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Mendel: In any case, bickering about Kristol’s pedigree is somewhat ridiculous considering that he and Trump have essentially identical backgrounds compared with most of the people in this thread complaining about Kristol.

    I wouldn’t consider them identical. Had Trump gone to Harvard, served as chief of staff to a US Vice President and not spent his life dealing with the corruption of big city real estate deals there would be a different man in the Oval Office now. (And it certainly wouldn’t be Trump.)

    Obviously there are some differences in their backgrounds that led to their different careers, demeanors, and political views (although I would argue their political views are probably a fair amount closer to each other than either would admit).

    My point was more about the stones being cast at Kristol in this thread, which were of the “I went to a state school and can’t afford to vacation on expensive beach resorts” variety. In that respect, Trump is much, much closer to Kristol than he is to the prototypical “flyover country white working class Trump voter”.

    And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just shows that Kristol isn’t insufferable and out of contact because he was born into a wealthy NY family and went to an Ivy League school, he’s insufferable and out of contact because he’s Bill Kristol.

    • #29
  30. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I just think it’s a shame that Kristol lost his mind.

    Alas, he’s taken Garry Kasparov with him.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.