This is Part II of a Christie Watch report on “reform conservatism.” In Part I, which appeared yesterday, we asked if there’s anything new in the ideas of the GOP’s reformicons, who got a boost from a big think-piece in The New York Times on July 2. In Part II, we discuss the funders and supporters of National Affairs and the reformicons.
When Barack Obama was elected president, Irving Kristol’s son, neocon Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, saw the need to start yet another new magazine that would revive the spirit of his father’s magazine and counter the menace of a resurgent progressive movement, as described succinctly in an article last year in The New Republic:
Despite his youth, Levin had been anointed the next great neoconservative. And in 2009, Bill Kristol gave him a title to match those expectations. Four years earlier, Kristol’s father, Irving Kristol, had shuttered his legendary journal, The Public Interest. But with Obama’s victory, Kristol the Younger found himself longing to revive his dad’s publication. “The end of the Bush administration showed that conservatism wasn’t strong politically and even intellectually,” Kristol says. So he followed the old dictum: When intellectuals have nothing left to do, they start a magazine. Levin was appointed the editor of the new effort, National Affairs.
In the first issue of National Affairs, Levin took up the mantle of Irving Kristol:
National Affairs seeks consciously to model itself on the most influential American public-policy journal in history: The Public Interest. Founded in 1965, in the midst of an earlier era of daunting challenges and technocratic overconfidence, The Public Interest shed a bright light on our public life for decades, in the hands of its incomparable editor Irving Kristol, his co-editors Daniel Bell and then Nathan Glazer, and in its final years Adam Wolfson. We are successors to their project in a technical sense, as the company they founded to publish their magazine, National Affairs, Inc., is now home to ours (and the complete archives of The Public Interest are available for the first time on our website, www.nationalaffairs.com). We have been the beneficiaries of their guidance and help, too, though they bear no blame for our shortcomings. And we can only hope to be truly their successors in the merit, the quality, and the significance of the work we do, if with some different emphases for a different time.