- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

On Media

The fight for the right is under way, led by a triumvirate intent on reclaiming the conservative movement.

Today marks the debut of the American Conservative magazine, a collaboration of Pat Buchanan, former New York Post editorial-page editor Scott McConnell and Taki Theodoracopulos, a worldly and acerbic columnist to be reckoned with.

The three are primed for the good fight.

"We believe the great conservative movement has been hijacked and put into services that would appall the Founding Fathers," Mr. Buchanan said yesterday. "There is a measure of exasperation seeing these conservative impersonators who set forth the war in the Middle East as the conservative agenda.

"We are an America-first publication the new, authentic conservatives. This is a voice which has not been heard before."

The voice is directed at "neoconservatives bent on reckless wars, global free trade and open borders." The neocons, Mr. Buchanan said, produce "milk-and-water magazines with no roots in history."

Mr. McConnell is also on a mission.

"We want to reignite debates which got short-circuited in the '90s," he said. "Should we continue to police the world with B-52s? Should we let a million-and-a half people over our border every year? I know a lot of mainstream conservatives are with us."

Vitriol against neoconservatives should not be construed as anti-Semitic, Mr. McConnell said.

"We're stating our positions. They are at odds with neoconservatism, but they are not intended as anti-Semitic. This is about politics, and we won't be intimidated. Our points will be fair and judicious," he said.

Mr. Buchanan is a longtime fixture in the conservative movement. He advised Presidents Nixon and Reagan, became a public figure as co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," and twice ran for the Republican nomination for president. His books include the best sellers "Right From the Beginning," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Death of the West."

The debut of the 12,000-circulation magazine has set critics buzzing over paleocons, theocons and neocons and the sure demise of the American Conservative, which is already being called "TAC." Badinage among pundits has given way to potshots.

The magazine is "Buchanan's surefire flop," predicted the New Republic. "Buchanan and his rich friends couldn't have picked a worse time to start a journal of the isolationist right." Mr. Buchanan might find readers on the "anti-globalization left," the magazine suggested.

Mr. Buchanan wrote in a Sept. 16 letter that the time was right, owing to an "absolute conformity of thought at National Review, the Weekly Standard and Commentary."

"Do you seriously believe that conservatism is now wholly encompassed by Norman Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry and our virtuous Teletubby William Bennett, Charles Krauthammer and the Kristols, pere and fils?" Mr. Buchanan inquired. The latter is a reference to Irving and William Kristol, respectively.

The New York Times called Mr. Buchanan "a scold for the right" and suggested that the creation of another political journal is akin "to putting money down a rathole."

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol told the Times, "I am all for another magazine, but I think the inclusion of Taki, who is a pretty loathsome character, will hurt their credibility."

Mr. Theodoracopulos, a Greek shipping heir and longtime columnist for Britain's Spectator, is supplying start-up cash for the magazine. He was convicted of cocaine possession 18 years ago, an event later chronicled in his column.

Countered the New York Press: "We do take issue with Bill Kristol's snide assessment of Taki, a terrific writer whose mixture of levity, self-deprecation and descriptions of his jet-set life are an asset to any publication."

Mr. Theodoracopulos explained the new magazine in a recent column published in the Press: "Our motto is that we are traditional conservatives mugged by the neocons Pat, Scott and I were conservatives when the Podhoretzes of this world were schmoozing Uncle Joe Stalin. Who the hell is William Kristol, anyway, to tell people like Pat and me how we should think?"

The American Conservative will be available in some bookstores and by subscription from their Web site (www.amconmag.com).

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