The Far Starboard

By: David Litt

The Weekly Standard, a magazine whose editorial positions are often indistinguishable from those of the Bush administration, will be testing the waters with its first-ever cruise. —, August 1, 2007

(The night is dark. On the deck of The Weekly Standard’s cruise ship, the USS Titanic Freedom, the band plays and wealthy conservatives dance, poorly. On the bridge, the lookout, Harrison, stares ahead, searching for dangers lurking in the waves. The visibility is next-to-nothing, but Bill Kristol, the captain, editor-in-chief, and featured speaker, steers the ship with the same righteous smugness with which he does everything. All of a sudden, a massive object appears on the horizon — and the ship is heading right for it!)

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: Stay the course!

LOOKOUT: But there’s an iceberg, dead ahead. We’ve got to adjust our heading.

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: And admit defeat? What kind of message would that send to our enemies, Harrison?


CAPTAIN KRISTOL: The world is watching, Harrison. If we surrender this patch of Artic Circle, we send a message to icebergs everywhere: “The Weekly Standard Cruise is weak.”

LOOKOUT: But sir, I’m not sure the USS Titantic Freedom is built to handle…

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: When George Washington was crossing the Delaware, he could have turned back, but he continued to the other side. Today, the Weekly Standard Cruise faces a similar choice. No matter how great the setbacks, we must not falter in our mission.

LOOKOUT: But we have to do something.

BILL KRISTOL: You’re right, Jenkins. That’s why I’m a strong proponent of the “surge,” a plan to add twenty knots per hour to our ship. That iceberg hates us, Jenkins. It hates our way of life. If we are to persevere, we need to show it that the Weekly Standard Cruise still possesses overwhelming force.

(On the first-class deck, Mary Paulson, a homemaker from Orange County, is enjoying a glass of champagne with executive editor/first lieutenant Fred Barnes when she hears a sudden crash. Lt. Barnes goes to see what the matter is, and five minutes later he returns. Mary is alarmed.)

MARY: What’s going on?

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: Certain liberal elements of the crew report that the ship is filling with water. However, as usual they neglect to mention the good news – two engine rooms still aren’t flooded, for example.

MARY: How long do we have to get to the lifeboats?

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: To put a timetable on your departure would be irresponsible, Ms. Paulson. However, we’ve been examining the options, and there’s a possibility that members of the Weekly Standard Cruise will maintain a presence on the cruise ship eternally, particularly those in steerage.

MARY: But…

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: Don’t worry. It’s like Korea.

(Five hours later, in the cold, black water, Rose Buckley III, a young attorney in the justice department, is floating on a piece of driftwood. Struggling to hold on to her is Jack Goodling, a dashing Cato Institute Fellow she met on board. For a while, Rose tries to help him, but soon she gives up, and he begins drifting out to sea.)

JACK (Yelling): You promised me you’d never let go!

ROSE (Yelling, but evasively): I’m sorry, Jack. I don’t remember the details of that meeting.


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