Like many readers of the New Republic, I didn't at first recognize the most recent issue of the magazine. The stark white cover was unlike anything the New Republic ran during my 35 years as the owner. Having read the cover story, I still don't recognize the magazine that I sold in 2012 to the Facebook zillionaire Chris Hughes.So what was that cover story?
"Original Sin," by Sam Tanenhaus, purported to explain "Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people." The provocative theme would not have been unthinkable in the magazine's 99-year history, but the essay's reliance on insinuations of GOP racism ("the inimical 'they' were being targeted by a spurious campaign to pass voter-identification laws, a throwback to Jim Crow") and gross oversimplifications hardly reflected the intellectual traditions of a journal of ideas. What made the "Original Sin" issue unrecognizable to this former owner is that it established as fact what had only been suggested by the magazine in the early days of its new administration: The New Republic has abandoned its liberal but heterodox tradition and embraced a leftist outlook as predictable as that of Mother Jones or the Nation.There's a lot of truth to that. Back in the '80s, TNR featured a lot of writers who are now considered part of the conservative pantheon, most notably Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer. They also were the home publication of the late (and much missed) Michael Kelly and libertarian Charles Paul Freund. And although the magazine's editor was Michael Kinsley, who is a standard issue liberal, they also published contrarians like Mickey Kaus as well. I was a regular reader in those days and enjoyed the publication very much.
Those days have been over for a long time now. TNR has been predictably lefty for a lot longer than Peretz wants to admit, especially under the tenure of Franklin Foer. Peretz eventually got rid of Foer, but he's now returned to the helm under the new administration.
Peretz seems to regret that the publisher's voice he once established has left TNR. Well, if there's a market for the 80s era TNR, Peretz ought to start a new journal.