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Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2002 / 28 Tishrei, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Buchanan the media baron? | Just what America needs.

Another of those ideologically hair-splitting little political magazines that only three people west of the Potomac ever want to read.

This time, we have that troublemaking conservative Patrick J. Buchanan to thank. To go along with his books, his syndicated column and his talk shows, the tireless commentator, presidential wannabe and merry one-man weapon of political mass destruction has launched The American Conservative.

It's a little Scud missile of biweekly opinion, 32 pages of un-slick newsprint that is not intended to make a dime and is barely available at a Border's near you.

As think magazines go, The American Conservative is like co-editor Buchanan - smart, lively and provocative. However, with articles such as "Why I Am No longer a Conservative" from long-lapsed conservative Kevin Phillips, it is not light reading.

In fact, you'll be lost if you haven't been following the intellectual catfight that's been going on since the end of the Cold War for the soul of conservatism or don't already subscribe to The Weekly Standard.

The new magazine allows Buchanan and his equally disaffected fellow travelers to blast away, intellectually, at the fake conservatives he says have hijacked the conservative movement he helped build into a national power as an adviser to three presidents.

Buchanan says he's a real - i.e., an old-fashioned - conservative. That puts him at serious odds with the war-mongering neo-conservatives whom he says now control the Republican Party agenda, the Bush White House and magazines such as The Weekly Standard and National Review. Buchanan has long challenged the benefits of open immigration and global free trade. Now, with "regime change" in the wind, he argues that America should not be trying to assemble a world empire or embarking willy-nilly on military adventures in Iraq or elsewhere.

The theme of The American Conservative's first issue is Iraq and the many sound reasons why it will be folly for America to attack a country that poses no serious threat to us.

Echoing the Founding Fathers and Old Right non-interventionist heroes such as Sen. Robert Taft, Buchanan and his boys make their case that attacking Iraq will only lead to an expensive, destructive, exit-less quagmire.

To show how off-the-right-wing-Republican-reservation Buchanan is on Iraq, virtually all of the anti-interventionist arguments his magazine makes are also made by the editors of the ancient Nation, America's premier left-wing magazine.

The Nation's stand against American imperialism is nothing new, but its editors won't be co-sponsoring anti-war rallies with Buchanan.

Neither will Christopher Hitchens, the great British journalist-commentator who last week announced that his current column in the Nation will be his last after 20 years.

Hitchens, whose writing alone made the Nation worth reading, is a former card-carrying socialist most famous for his books attacking Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger.

In his final column, he says he no longer felt comfortable writing for a magazine that has become "the voice and echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden."

Hitchens is not a Republican. But unlike the Nation's editors and Buchanan, he's in favor of our plans to attack Iraq. Go figure - or get a subscription to People.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald