Okay, that header doesn’t make any sense. Nonetheless: I see that The New Republic has decided to aim high and declare its intentions to become The New Yorker of Washington, D.C. One might say that they are aiming so high that they are leaning over backward. It wasn’t that long ago that people were founding magazines to be The New Republic of this or that – The Weekly Standard was founded as The New Republic of the right – and wondering what The New Yorker was going to have to turn into to survive. But nonetheless: I get the idea: longer-form reporting, central place in the cultural conversation, incomprehensible cartoons.
Which leads me to my own question: what is The American Conservative aspiring to be the something of? The publishers clearly don’t want to be cloistered on the paleoconservative right, but neither do they want to disown those roots. They want to be situated vaguely on the right, but they appear to be more committed to prudence, in foreign and domestic policy, than to any specific policy agenda, much less an ideology. They want to be part of the national conversation, but not part of the “establishment” – or, for that matter, counter-establishment. My own personal mission here is to expand the magazine’s arts and culture coverage. I don’t look at the media landscape and see a dearth of coverage of the latest annoying thing this Republican or that Democrat said, whereas coverage of the arts – certainly on the right, but in general – is dwindling almost as quickly as coverage of local news.
So, I put it to you. What are the models? The Atlantic Monthly, traditional home of genteel pessimism, before it moved to Washington? The New Criterion before it decided to become a movement conservative organ? The n+1 of the Benedict option? (I guess that would be n-1.)
Time to find out if I have any commenters.