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The Neo-Con Owner Weighs In

Over at The Plank, Marty Peretz (one of TNR's "neo-con owners") has a masterful reply to Kos's recent rantings:

Forgive me. But I never read Daily Kos until today. Well, now that I've read it, the first thought that came to me is how illiterate Kos is, just plain illiterate.

...

And his rant against us, well, borders on a nut case's. When a high-minded or, rather, high-strung moralist is accused by The New York Times of journalistic hanky-panky and then by TNR of running an ideological censorship bureau, reminiscent of the old Catholic Legion of Decency, he will go off the rails. And he did. "This is what The New Republic had evolved into--just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy." An old professor of mine once warned me against writers who use capital letters for emphasis. Good advice she gave me. Capital letters suggest some imbalance in the mind of their employer. In whose interests has TNR sought "to destroy the new people-powered movement"? Kos answers his own question: "for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neo-con owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutosphere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats." Don't look at Kos's grammar. He's ranting.

It feels a bit demeaning to defend oneself against Kos. But I am one of the neo-con owners, and I am titular editor-in-chief. So here goes: The New Republic is very much against the Bush tax programs, against Bush Social Security "reform," against cutting the inheritance tax, for radical health care changes, passionate about Gore-type environmentalism, for a woman's entitlement to an abortion, for gay marriage, for an increase in the minimum wage, for pursuing aggressively alternatives to our present reliance on oil and our present tax preferences for gas-guzzling automobiles. We were against the confirmation of Justice Alito. And, institutionally, TNR was against several policies that I favor, including allowing the government more rather than less leeway in ferreting out terrorists and allies of terrorists. From today's newspapers: I see nothing wrong with the feds scrutinizing international monetary exchanges in the dragnet for enemies of not just our civilization but civilization. But TNR is a heterodox institution, a concept Kos surely cannot fathom.

After covering YearlyKos, I was of the mind that conservatives shouldn't dismiss the netroots movement, no matter how easy it is to pick on the more unhinged of the commenters at Kos or the other major sites. This is a movement that's getting itself together as the conservatives did decades ago; in time, they could have a real impact.

But to the extent that the movement is built as a cult of personality around Kos himself -- around, that is, an unstable egomaniac bent on a sort of binge-and-purge model of management -- well, conservatives might not have that much to worry about.