August 30, 2005
A Higher Standard: The Weekly at 10: Sometimes Wrong but Always Right (Peter Carlson, August 30, 2005, Washington Post)
Some left-wingers probably don't read the Weekly Standard because they figure it's a Rupert Murdoch-owned, right-wing, warmongering magazine and, of course, they've got a point. But now -- as the Washington-based mag prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary -- it's worth noting that the Weekly Standard is a truly excellent right-wing warmongering magazine, no matter what your political persuasion might be.
The Standard is saved from the worst sins of ideological magazines -- crankiness, sectarianism and self-righteousness -- by a delightfully impish sense of humor. It is America's funniest right-wing magazine, although there is not, alas, much competition for that title. [...]
My favorite writers in the Standard's stable are two guys with sharp eyes and cutting wits -- Andrew Ferguson and Matt Labash.
Ferguson's brain contains a highly effective baloney detector, which enables him to identify balderdash in all its myriad manifestations. Over the years, he has published great comic essays on such celebrated cultural icons as Frank Sinatra, Edward R. Murrow and Mikhail Gorbachev. For the Gorbachev piece, Ferguson found Gorby in the same conference room with Shirley MacLaine and Deepak Chopra, which severely strained Ferguson's baloney detector but inspired a hilarious story.
Labash likes to leave the office and explore the weirder aspects of the world, which is a good trait in a reporter. Back in 2001, when a politically correct faction of gym teachers denounced dodge ball as a threat to America's youth, Labash risked his life by venturing out to a Maryland elementary school to play the deadly game. And he lived to tell the tale in a funny piece called "The New Phys Ed and the Wussification of America."
This summer, Labash spent time with the Minutemen -- the controversial organization that patrols the Mexican border, trying to deter illegal immigrants -- and his nuanced piece shows that the Minutemen aren't xenophobic vigilantes, as they are sometimes portrayed.
But my all-time favorite Labash piece is "Welcome to Canada: The Great White Waste of Time," published last March and reprinted in the new anthology. In it, he offers this synopsis of our northern neighbor:
". . . a country that didn't bother to draft its own constitution until 1982, that kept 'God Save the Queen' as its national anthem until 1980, and that still enshrines its former master's monarch as its head of state. Her Canadian title is 'Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen (breath) Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.' Maybe they should change their national anthem again, to Britney Spears's 'I'm a Slave 4 U.' "
Mr. Ferguson, has a typically excellent piece out now on the Washington Mall. Meanwhile, Priscilla Buckley has a terrific memoir out, Living It Up With National Review, which reminds of how funny that magazine used to be. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2005 12:00 AM