The New Republic

THE NEW REPUBLIC….Via Atrios, I see that Franklin Foer will be taking over as editor of the New Republic next week. I wish him luck. He’ll need it.

Like a lot of people, I find TNR to be a maddening magazine. At the same time, I also find it indispensable. Sure, reading Martin Peretz is like listening to fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard, but just take a look at their masthead. I’m not a fan of every single one of TNR’s senior editors (a title that’s essentially code for “staff writer,” not someone who actually does any editing) but 80% of them are top notch. It’s hard to think of any other political magazine that can match that collection of talent, and they consistently churn out a remarkable amount of top notch political journalism.

So what’s their problem? They publish some genuinely weird dreck sometimes, but they’re hardly unique in that. Do they need brighter writing for a new era of blog-raised readers? I doubt it. Their writing is better than most of their competitors. Do they need to cut down on what sometimes seems like knee jerk contrarianism? Maybe. One Michael Kinsley is enough. Do they need to finally figure out ? plainly and unambiguously ? that the Iraq war was a mistake?

Bingo. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely to happen, and as long as they decline to learn the obvious lesson from our current adventure in Mesopotamia they’re just not going to find a very big liberal audience. And that’s too bad, because an awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage between their covers by their stubborn insistence that the U.S. military can remake the world.