My latest TRB column is out. It's about Frank Luntz, and the strange duality of his role:
Luntz has slowly evolved into a fully self-aware comic figure—a kind of right-wing, establishmentarian Abbie Hoffman, exposing the moral vacuity of politics by openly conceding the total subordination of fact to spin. Yet here is the odd thing about the man: As he has developed a burgeoning career as a parody of a political consultant, he has remained an actual working political consultant, crafting messages on behalf of politicians who are not ironically self-aware and would very much like their statements to be taken seriously.
Like almost all content from out print issue, you have to subscribe to read it. The question of paying for content on the internet has taken on a moralistic tone on both sides. The critics believe there's something wrong with charging for articles online. Proponents think it's wrong to make publications give away material that costs money to produce.
I think morality has nothing to do with it. Many magazines do publish all their material online for free. They have owners who can afford to completely subsidize the cost of producing them. We don't. As a result, we need people who read the carefully reported, researched, written and edited work in our print magazine to pay some of the cost. I'm not telling you to subscribe because it's the right thing to do. I'm telling you to subscribe because it's worth a relatively modest sum of money to be able to read a sharp, witty, intelligent magazine like the New Republic.