When it was announced on Friday that The Weekly Standard would print its last issue after nearly a quarter of a century, I was astonished. Who would ever have guessed that The American Conservative, the upstart anti-war magazine founded by Pat Buchanan and Scott McConnell in 2002, would outlast Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes’ neoconservative colossus? If you had asked me five years ago, I would have said it was about as likely as the star of Celebrity Apprentice winning the White House on a reactionary populist platform.
It’s worth saying at the outset that I and millions of other Americans of all political tendencies disagreed with the editors of The Weekly Standard about the Iraq war. We were right and they were wrong. I will return later to this issue, which is more complicated than some critics of intervention have ever made it sound. But there are other points worth making first.
The most obvious one is that the Standard was, for more than two decades, the best right-of-center periodical published in the United States. This was true for the very simple reason that it hired the best writers and let them write about the topics that interested them.