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Martin Peretz, The New Republic, Blogging and the War

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The New Republic’s editor-in-chief Martin Peretz has been at the top of the magazine’s masthead since 1974.  TNR’s primary blog, The Plank, opened for business last fall. While I haven’t gone back through The Plank’s archives, Peretz is certainly using the new platform during this crisis for Israel, posting on various aspects of the Israel-Hezbollah war on 9:10 PM Agust 1,3:02 PM August 1, 3:38  PM, July 31; 10:00 AM, July 31; 12:45 AM, July 31; 5:00 PM, July 27; 8:48 PM, July 24; 8:51 July 238:35 PM, July 22; 4:59 PM, July 20; 3:22 July 20; 7:04 PM, July 19; 2:17 PM, July 19; and 12:41 July 15; and 12:38 AM, July 15.

Prior to the start of the war, Peretz had posted only twice in July, on the Mumbai bombing on July 11; on one of the NYC-tunnel-bombing plotters.

Some observations.

First, along with Michael Barone, Peretz is the most prominent among the aging dogs of the Beltway commentariat who have learned the new trick.  Barone and Peretz are both men of great passion for public affairs and an ability to turn out good stuff on a quick basis.  But there are many such folks among the D.C. press corps defined broadly.  Perhaps the others think it is a fad, or beneath them, or simply that no one has yet offered them money to blog. Whatever the reason, it would be useful to have the more experienced among the Beltway pundits following Barone’s and Peretz’s example.

Second, despite the importance of the Israel-Hezbollah war, Peretz’s interest in the Israel-Hezbollah war is pretty unique at The Plank.  Since the beginning of the war, I count only 8 non-Peretz posts scattered among all the other contributors, while Iraq is featured in 11 posts, and the Lieberman race in at least 17. 

The TNR writers certainly do not share Peretz’s focus. Whether that is because they do not share Peretz’s views on the conflict is impossible to say.

It is very odd, though, that the center-left’s flagship publication–home to the Democratic Party-saving Beinart–has been silent on such matters as John Dingall’s equivocation and other aspects of the conflict like the Annan’s absurdities, the Qana attack, and the papering over of the Israel’s internal divisions in a time of war.  There’s a magazine to run, of course, and this is just the blog.

The deep ambivalence of the left about Israel has led to a noticeable near silence about the Israel-Hezbollah war in many places like DailyKos. Peretz’s productivity has masked a similar reticence among the TNR bloggers.

And there is this: Everything said or written about Israel-Hezbollah has a parallel application to the U.S. role in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Defending Israel, its tactics, or commentary on the difficulty of the war Israel finds itself in has immediate relevance to that writer’s views on the wider global war on Islamic jihadism.

It is all one war, of course, but there are many folks invested in the myth that retreat from Iraq won’t matter to Israel or the wider war on terror.  The longer the open war between Israel and Hezbollah goes on, the greater the clarity the world is getting about the Islamists whose headquarters are in Iran.



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