Time magazine dumped Michael Kinsley as a columnist? This is the first I've heard of it. I rarely see Time, and so never get to read Kinsley there -- but someone needs to be publishing him, always.
Kinsley's outlet this week is the New Republic, his old haunts: he eviscerates Newsweek's much-talked-about (by itself) reinvention.
Kinsley is quite aware that bashing the No. 2 newsweekly after you've just lost your perch at No. 1 is not the wisest career strategy. But he does slip in a word of praise for Newsweek's editor, Jon Meacham, along with a characteristically arch dig at Rick Stengel, Time's editor:
Meacham -- a very smart and thoughtful guy, which in my experience is not necessarily true of all newsmagazine editors (all two, that is)
Nicely played: Not too bitter, but still a dagger (aimed at a fellow Rhodes Scholar, no less).
Anyway, as Kinsley sees it, here's the basic problem with Meacham's goal for Newsweek:
He says he wants "provocative (but not partisan) arguments." Which would be what? "Let's paint the Capitol dome dark brown"? Or, "Try cooked carrots--they're not too bad"? It's not easy to be provocative if you're looking over your shoulder for the partisanship police.
There's no need to speculate about what these provocative-but-nonpartisan arguments will look like, since newsweeklies have been making them for ages. In fact, these arguments are never remotely provocative. They're safe, centrist, even pandering: "Memo to politicians: Time to stop the mudslinging -- and solve our fiscal problems." "Prayer: It may be better than a prescription, doctors say." If Meacham can break that mold, more power to him, but there's little evidence of it so far.
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