Hertzberg toasts and roasts:
I first met Andrew roughly twenty-five years ago, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a strikingly beautiful young man. He had to fend off the women with a cricket bat. At one point he came to me for girlfriend advice—fancy that! A few years later, when I was serving my second term as “editor” of the New Republic, I came to work one day and was told that Andrew was the magazine’s new “deputy editor.” It was the first I’d heard of it. How about them apples? Pretty soon I was out and he was in. The year we overlapped, TNR won a National Magazine Award for “General Excellence.” Believe it or not, this is considered a big deal in certain quarters, sort of like an Oscar. Whenever Andrew has occasion to aver to that award, he always mentions the person he shared it with, i.e., me. I can’t say that I’ve always done the same for him. Score one for Andrew.
On the other hand, when Andrew had the TNR job he ran an absolutely awful, full-of-lies piece of shit on the Clinton health-care plan by one Elizabeth McCaughey. I consider that to have been the biggest editorial outrage in the magazine’s history, with the possible exception of its backing for American entry into the First World War. And he did a lot of other damnfool things, too. Let’s not even talk about the Bell Curve.
So how come I like Andrew so much? Or at all?
Well, first of all, I just do. Matter of taste. So sue me.
But, mainly, I really, really like the Daily Dish.
I look in on it several times a day, more than I click on anything else on the Web. It’s almost a sickness. No doubt this has a lot to do with the fact that ever since Andrew began to realize that the Iraq war wasn’t such a great idea after all, his views have borne, over time, an increasingly strong resemblance to my own. Not on everything, of course. He still doesn’t like unions. He still thinks “small government,” flat taxes, Ronald Reagan, and cuts in “entitlement programs,” i.e., social insurance, are fine and dandy. He’s still a conservative, in much the same way that he’s still a Catholic.
But he has been a genuine and genuinely fiery moral leader, if that doesn’t sound too pompous—on torture, on Iran, and on Palin, to name three topics of more than trivial interest. He has courage. He has integrity. He lives up to that slogan of his—“Of No Party or Clique.” His prophetic advocacy of marriage equality is a case in point. Almost nobody, gay or straight, was with him on that in the beginning. Was there anyone he wasn’t ahead of? He’s the anti-Dewey: he’s the big man on the wedding cake. Him and Aaron.
Beyond that, I have a profound professional admiration for the Dish as an editorial enterprise. It’s a kind of internet gyroscope. I find that it orients me in cyberspace. It fends off motion sickness. It gives pleasure. I almost always feel a little better after paying it a visit, even when the news of the day is unusually depressing. There ought to be a name for what the Dish is—“blog” doesn’t capture it, somehow.
When I was a kid, I’d sometimes hear grownups talking reverently about “William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette.” Except in the vaguest Wikipedia kind of way, I still don’t know who the hell William Allen White was or what sort of publication the Emporia Gazette was. But in some weird corner of my imagination, Andrew and the Dish have the same sort of glow.
Read Rick at The New Yorker.