California Anti-Bilingual Proposition King Ron Unz to be Next Publisher of <em>The American Conservative</em>

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I just got a scoop on who the next publisher of The American Conservative is going to be — and it’s an intriguing choice.
I read The American Conservative because Vice President Cheney hates the publication and thinks that its editorialists run in the same gaggle of “Not-Republicans-Enough-for-Cheney” as Chuck Hagel and Chris Shays.
Ron Unz — a software magnate who led a successful California ballot initiative against bilingual education in California — will become the magazine’s new publisher, succeeding current publisher Scott McConnell. McConnell will continue to serve as The American Conservative‘s editor.
Pat Buchanan was the former editor and is now editor emeritus of the publication but according to sources has not been involved in the magazine’s work for a couple of years.
Unz is an intriguing choice because he is not a predictable conservative — and certainly not a predictable liberal. He’s more of an entrepreneurial libertarian who is — at the same time — an advocate of pro-immigrant policies while also an opponent of bilingual education programs, which he thinks retards the ability of Hispanic and other immigrants to quickly assimilate into U.S. society.
In 1994, Unz challenged incumbent Governor Pete Wilson of California in the Republican primary for Governor and got 34% of the vote. He helped organize the opposition to an anti-immigration initiative, Proposition 187, and organized one of the largest immigrant marches (at that time) in California. Later, he became one of the leading experts in citizen-based electroral propositions by drafting Proposition 227, which effectively dismantled a third of the country’s bilingual programs and advocating and building an extensive network of English language immersion programs.
According to inside sources, Ron Unz strongly supports the generally “realist” direction that the magazine has adopted in its U.S. foreign policy commentary but also is comfortable with the more classically conservative policy of the magazine on domestic policy.
All I can say about Unz, who I have met a half dozen or so times, is that he is an energetic ideas guy and is far less predictable — than say, New Republic editor Martin Peretz who has unleashed a predictable salvo against George Soros today for Soros’ interesting Israel-related commentary that also ran today in the New York Review of Books. (more on that later)
In any case — an interesting move in the political journalism world that I wanted to bring to your attention. . .
— Steve Clemons
Update:
Matthew Yglesias offers a concurring perspective.

Comments

8 comments on “California Anti-Bilingual Proposition King Ron Unz to be Next Publisher of <em>The American Conservative</em>

  1. Mark Welch says:

    As a charter subscriber and former donor to the American Conservative I have been completely dismayed at the direction it has taken in the last year. It offers no coherent philosophy. It has become merely a pastiche of overly-intellectual ideological cud and I’m truly embarrassed by what I once supported. Steve Sailer does a good movie review and Ralph DeToledano, rest his soul, always had something worthwhile to share. Besides that I just read Taki (for his style) and throw it in the garbage. I feel like I have to take a shower now for even touching it.
    Why does everything Americans touch now, even if it was good for a moment, turn to crap before it ripens?
    Pat Buchanan ought to run like hell from this debacle.

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  2. DrSteveB says:

    TAC can be interesting and relatively honest (relative to Bush-Rove-Cheney; AEI/Heritage; etc.; which is not saying much).
    But I have trouble with thier connection to some outright racists such as Buchanan (yes, he is).
    I wonder how “interesting” TAC will be once we past the Iraq war and the fantacist NeoCons? Or will they just be turn out to be the mix of John Birchers and upper-class twitty Anglophiles, who happened to be right about Iraq though perhaps not for the right reasons, that they were before Iraq (they being the people involved, not the magazine itself which is new)?

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  3. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the sensible note Scott.
    I like Ron Unz — and I’m a big fan of “The American Conservative,” which I hope goes through a bit of a growth phase now with new leadership and someone who will bring a different complexion and sensibility to the publication.
    Scott McConnell, the editor, is top rate there — but he deserves more support. This magazine has been more important than many understand in helping to build an intellectual and media underpinning under some of the more important realist commentators — when no other publications were doing so….well except Katrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation, another great publication.
    Best,
    Steve

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  4. Scott says:

    I’ve noticed recently that people–often those weird or hard core extremist views-lurk on the comments section of mainstream blogs in order to disseminate opinions that otherwise wouldn’t ever make it into the sunlight. The first comment on this section, attacking Ron Unz as some sort of ultra Likudnik, is certainly this type of comment. It is based on a purposeful misreading of Unz’s letter to the editor of Commentary, which anyone following the link would see. The point of the post is no more than to disseminate anti-Semitic graffiti into the blogosphere.

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  5. buck turgidson says:

    Unz largely discredited himself when caught making essentially bigoted remarks during a similar anti-bilingual campaign in Massachusetts. He ran off with his tail between his legs, leaving his local henchmen to run the campaign. It is easily possible for someone to be intelligent at many technical levels and still to be a complete idiot. Unz is such an idiot–a successful entrepreneur who has no sense of reality.
    “…Proposition 227, which effectively dismantled a third of the country’s bilingual programs and advocating and building an extensive network of English language immersion programs.”
    This is an interesting interpretation of what actually happened. It is true that Prop 227 has largely dismantled the California bilingual program and was followed by similar provisions in other states, such as Arizona. But it is a bit far fetched to claim that it was responsible for building any sort of an extensive network. Prop 227 was a tear-down, not build-up provision. It effectively prohibited schools from teaching anything that resembled a bilingual program–some later versions in other states nearly criminalized teachers’ attempts to speak anything other than English to students. But it built nothing, leaving many bilingual students stranded. Unz could not care less.
    “According to inside sources, Ron Unz strongly supports the generally “realist” direction that the magazine has adopted in its U.S. foreign policy commentary but also is comfortable with the more classically conservative policy of the magazine on domestic policy.”
    HA!! Pardon me while I pick up the back of my throat from the floor. I love the incongruence of suggesting that “insiders” recognize the “realist direction” of the publication, let alone the fact that Unz is capable of supporting any sense of “realism”. Unz’s realism is roughly equivalent to George H.W. Bush attempting to buy milk or Lamar Alexander trying to blend in in New Hampshire by wearing a plaid shirt.
    If there is any sort of filial piety on the part of Jews, recognizing well-known achievements of other Jews, Ron Unz makes me ashamed–just like Perle, Wolfowitz and Berkowitz (yes, I know–not quite in the same category, unless you consider moral equivalents).

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  6. Pissed Off American says:

    “According to inside sources, Ron Unz strongly supports the generally “realist” direction that the magazine has adopted in its U.S. foreign policy commentary”
    I had no idea that they had editorialized that Bush/Cheney were criminals, and called for their impeachment, indictment, and incarceration. When did they become realist?

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  7. adam says:

    Marty Peretz really needs help.
    All his life he has written like a demented senile bitter old nut; but now that he really is a demented senile bitter old nut, I think someone needs to intervene.

    Reply

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