Not an Editorial

This space, usually reserved for vigorous opinion on politics, ecclesial and civil, will just this once be given over to saying something vigorous about the importance of editorial opinion and journals of opinion. Such magazines, Commonweal included, give voice—often contrary voice—to ideas, opinions, suspicions, and possibilities that a lot of people wish would just go away. (Complaints about our publishing Avery Dulles’s broadside on the CTSA remind us just how annoyed some people can get; ditto, our efforts to argue that no position on Iraqi-U.S. relations could claim the moral high ground.) Editorials, columns, personal essays, criticism, reviews—contrary opinion and constructive criticism are crucial to the vitality of any society and all institutions: American politics as well as the Catholic church; the Congress as well as the president; Protestants, mainline and evangelical; Hollywood; Broadway; and yes, the CTSA and Saddam Hussein.

So too, journals of opinion need critical scrutiny, for it is motley crews that keep them going. For example, in a realm marked by radical underfunding, the new publisher of the American Spectator, Terry Eastland, has been embarrassed to find that $1.8 million was expended by the Spectator’s staff in digging up dirt about Bill Clinton. What a colossal waste of money!...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.