Commentary doesn’t wield the influence it once did (as our Alana Newhouse noted a few years back), but its pages continue to crackle with often intelligent, lively and provocative right-wing perspectives, as well as some of the most thoughtful writing on Jewish affairs that’s out there. Of course, it also publishes more than a few crazily bellicose articles on foreign policy (often penned by the elder Podhoretz).
In its heyday, Commentary rose to influence with sharp — and frequently necessary — critiques of left-liberal orthodoxies. At its best, Commentary has been invaluable. In recent decades, however, Commentary has all too often simply substituted the rigid orthodoxies of the neocon right for the dogmas of the left. At its worst, Commentary can be laughable.
Which side of the Commentary tradition will Podhoretz fils embrace? Given his work so far, I have my own prediction.
Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart eviscerates neo-con chieftain Norman Podhoretz’s new book “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism” in The New York Times Book Review:
His assertions are bold, sweeping and almost wholly unencumbered by evidence. We learn, for instance, that “almost to a man, Muslim clerics in their sermons” endorsed the 9/11 attacks. “Just about everyone in the whole world who was intent on discrediting the Bush doctrine,” he tells us, claimed that Jews were behind the Iraq war. And none of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib “so far as anyone knew, was even maimed, let alone killed.”
But what really gets Beinart — hardly a starry-eyed dove himself — is the Commentary editor’s blustering antagonism toward his domestic political opponents. Beinart writes: