Kos' response to the recent buy-out of TNR is very troublesome to me, in that it shows that--regardless of what the magazine does, what it says, or where it goes--Kos is hell-bent on turning them into a scalp on his wall.
In attacking TNR, Kos refers back to their support for the Iraq war (in from 2002 to 2003), and their ill-advised endorsement of Joe Lieberman in the Democratic Primary (in early 2004). In other words, nothing that's happened in the past three years. But yet, TNR has backtracked on all of these positions--something Kos has refused to acknowledge. TNR has harshly critiqued Bush administration policy on all number of issues, including foreign policy--something Kos has refused to acknowledge. TNR has engaged in repeated introspection and self-critique on the Iraq war--something Kos has refused to acknowledge. And under its new leadership, TNR has persistently moved in a more liberal direction, such that there is surprisingly little gap between the positions held by TNR writers and Kos front-pagers on the vast majority of political issues. Kos, of course, does not acknowledge this either.
With regard to Iraq, we can thus critique TNR's horrible misjudgment (which is perfectly fair); but 81 House Democrats and 29 Democratic Senators made the exact same mistake. Like some other liberals (e.g., John Edwards) who voted in favor of this ill-advised war, TNR has since apologized and recanted for its stance--as Editor Franklin Foer stated, "the question mark is gone," as to whether the magazine was wrong on the war in Iraq. So the question is whether or not Kos is willing to readmit liberals who have strayed (but have now seen the light) on an issue that a) he was right on and b) is very important to him. If the answer is no, so be it--but that means putting targets on every one of those 110 Democrats still serving in elected office and trying to run them from the party. That's not just Joe Lieberman, that's John Edwards, that's Harry Reid, that's Jack Murtha, that's Chris Dodd, and ultimately, that's fratricide. Of course, Kos hasn't called for the scalps of these Democrats--but that's because the vendetta against TNR has gotten personal for him--it is not an expression of any privilege, it is merely white hot fury that is ultimately irrational and self-destructive. If TNR proves anything, it isn't that Democrats who support President Bush will be punished, it's that apologies are useless.
This is personal to me, because I am one of the heretics--not just because I read TNR, but because I supported the Iraq war. If my repentance is futile and falls on deaf ears to the left, then where can I go? Ultimately, Kos does not want to see me converted back into the fold of liberal politics. He wants my head put on stake on the front lawn as a warning to others.