The Weekly Standard: Like a really good TV show

A brutal fact of professional politics is that every endeavor ends at some point.  Elections have ripple effects that kill off careers, think-tanks, lobbying outfits, etc.  This extends to magazines, and the Weekly Standard published its last issue on December 17. 

Although its fade-out has been fodder for media gossip, the demise was conventional: the Standard broke with its conservative base over Donald Trump and was no longer good enough to play by its own rules.  The end shouldn't obscure a 23-year run of stellar journalism that included more than a decade as the premier publication of the intellectual right. 

The Standard was like a really good TV show that excelled across cultural eras, bookended with thoughtful resistance to Clinton centrism and a rarified scrutiny of Obama's international blunderings.  But in between was the heyday.  The Weekly Standard was the undisputed bulletin board for George W. Bush administration's foreign policy.  The response to 9/11 and case for preventive war against Iraq were argued with more persistence and heft on its pages than anywhere else.  Even the retry of the botched Iraq takeover – the 2007 surge – was premeditated in the Standard.  It was more than a publication – it was an idea factory. 

And it was far from a single-issue outlet.  The back of the book was excellent.  The art was on point.  The vibe was smart but not stuffy.  A litany of its early staffers found fame, including David Brooks and Tucker Carlson.  Its alumni routinely segued into mainstream journalism.  Better yet, too many to name (okay, Andrew Ferguson) stayed at the magazine and defined its reliably irreverent and creative tone. 

Truth be told, the Weekly Standard was becoming irrelevant before NeverTrump.  After a last try at Bush-era conservatism was rejected in Mitt Romney's presidential defeat, it was adrift among a political party that was careening toward populism.  If the quality didn't suffer, it became hard not to read it and get a whiff of 2007.  Somehow it held onto the same lead economics writer after the financial crisis.

Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes should be commended for keeping the Weekly Standard going as long as they did, fostering a staff that could make careers there, and opening up its pages to disparate views, including contributors (like this one) with nice things to say about Donald Trump.  Any entrepreneur who strikes out in ideological journalism will be lucky to accomplish half of what they did. 

A brutal fact of professional politics is that every endeavor ends at some point.  Elections have ripple effects that kill off careers, think-tanks, lobbying outfits, etc.  This extends to magazines, and the Weekly Standard published its last issue on December 17. 

Although its fade-out has been fodder for media gossip, the demise was conventional: the Standard broke with its conservative base over Donald Trump and was no longer good enough to play by its own rules.  The end shouldn't obscure a 23-year run of stellar journalism that included more than a decade as the premier publication of the intellectual right. 

The Standard was like a really good TV show that excelled across cultural eras, bookended with thoughtful resistance to Clinton centrism and a rarified scrutiny of Obama's international blunderings.  But in between was the heyday.  The Weekly Standard was the undisputed bulletin board for George W. Bush administration's foreign policy.  The response to 9/11 and case for preventive war against Iraq were argued with more persistence and heft on its pages than anywhere else.  Even the retry of the botched Iraq takeover – the 2007 surge – was premeditated in the Standard.  It was more than a publication – it was an idea factory. 

And it was far from a single-issue outlet.  The back of the book was excellent.  The art was on point.  The vibe was smart but not stuffy.  A litany of its early staffers found fame, including David Brooks and Tucker Carlson.  Its alumni routinely segued into mainstream journalism.  Better yet, too many to name (okay, Andrew Ferguson) stayed at the magazine and defined its reliably irreverent and creative tone. 

Truth be told, the Weekly Standard was becoming irrelevant before NeverTrump.  After a last try at Bush-era conservatism was rejected in Mitt Romney's presidential defeat, it was adrift among a political party that was careening toward populism.  If the quality didn't suffer, it became hard not to read it and get a whiff of 2007.  Somehow it held onto the same lead economics writer after the financial crisis.

Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes should be commended for keeping the Weekly Standard going as long as they did, fostering a staff that could make careers there, and opening up its pages to disparate views, including contributors (like this one) with nice things to say about Donald Trump.  Any entrepreneur who strikes out in ideological journalism will be lucky to accomplish half of what they did.