Reports indicate that The Weekly Standard soon joins Life, Look, Calling All Girls, Hit Parader, George, and Oui on the great newsstand in the sky. (Perhaps loyal “readers” find Oui on some lower-elevation newsstand.)
Death by internet seems a tempting obit but it does not capture the self-inflicted nature of the magazine’s demise. Like the obituaries of others who “died suddenly at home” at 23, an accurate death notice for the Standard requires some reference, however oblique, to the magazine killing itself by rebuffing its lifeblood, conservative readers. The notion of a “Never Trump” publication appealing to a mass conservative audience during The Donald’s reign seems a difficult trick to pull off. The Standard sought to walk this tightrope by transitioning from Bill Kristol, now a familiar talking-head to MSNBC viewers and 140-characters-or-less-wordsmith to Twittericans also following Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Paul Krugman, to the able and less alienating Stephen Hayes as editor seemed a last-ditch survival gambit. But the magazine’s convoluted identity, aiming for that sliver of conservative America still not sold on a tax-cutting scourge of political correctness who appoints solid judges to the Supreme Court, unsurprisingly did not attract much of an audience.
Perhaps the magazine planted the seeds of its end much earlier.
Take, for instance, the publication’s response to the changing fortunes of big government during the Clinton years. The year after declaring “We Win: ‘The End of Big Government Is Over’” on its cover, the Standard schizophrenically called for “A Return to National Greatness” in the same spot. The David Brooks-penned piece seemed a response to a conversation nobody was having. This familiar problem for the Standard became the problem for the Standard, a supply-driven phenomenon powered by donors and editors in search of a magazine and not by public demand to read such a magazine.
Ultimately, it was a magazine by, of, and for the effete, smug, perennial-loser collaborationists now scornfully referred to as cucks—and the cucks and their Liberal-Lite governing philosophy have finally exceeded their sell-by date. The Left despises them, in spite of the cucks’ eternal quest to court their favor and acceptance; the new New Right—brash, muscular, eager to do real battle with the Left not on the Left’s terms but its own, undeterred by the necessity of getting down and dirty in order to secure meaningful victories—has no use for them; and the market for mushy, ineffectual, dithering pedantry has become, shall we say, bearish. So the Standard is going out not with a bang but with something more akin to the squeaky honk of a halfheartedly-suppressed fart in public: mildly embarrassing, and best overlooked by all present.