Right on target

September 26, 1995|By Mona Charen

It's an embarrassment of riches. Once there was just National Review and Human Events. A few years later came The American Spectator. But today, the world teems with meaty, thoughtful, funny and interesting conservative magazines.

The Weekly Standard has fulfilled its promise to be a must-read staple of the Washington information diet. The Heritage Foundation's Policy Review continues to provide solid explorations of conservative themes.

A 'brilliant editor'

And then there's the new American Enterprise. Karl Zinsmeister, the magazine's editor, is young, brilliant, intense and just the sort to drive the left crazy. He combines analytical precision with a from-the-street directness, and the results are powerful.

In one of the magazine's early issues, Mr. Zinsmeister included personal reflections on some of the liberal do-gooders he had watched come and go in urban Washington. In almost every case, these youthful crusaders ''for'' the poor were determined to ensure that drug addicts not be kicked out of public housing, that vagrancy and loitering statutes be thrown out, that teachers be forbidden from disciplining their unruly students, that the mentally ill be loosed on the streets and that criminals be given the opportunity to cruise through a revolving-door justice system.

Like all conservatives, Mr. Zinsmeister and the American Enterprise are working to bolster the tables in the Civilization Saloon. Whether it's offering solutions to violent crime (''18 Things We Can Now Do To Fight Back''), unlocking the unhappy personal stories of leading feminists, exposing the errors of Afro-centrism, providing a pro and con debate on the virtues of censorship, or offering a revealing statistical refutation of the ''declining wages'' myth, the American Enterprise provides revelation (not to say ammunition) in every issue.

Debunking myths

Are young people today really worse off economically than their parents' generation? Absolutely not, Mr. Zinsmeister explains. The average American now consumes twice as many goods and services as back in 1950. Yes, but young people can't afford to buy their own homes, right? Wrong. In 1987, the home-ownership rate for married couples under age 35 was 57 percent, an increase of 33 percent from a generation earlier. (The overall home ownership rate was 64 percent in 1991.) And today's buyers expect and get far more amenities -- such as central air conditioning, fireplaces, garages and multiple bathrooms -- than their parents' generation.

There's so much to read -- and so little time.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

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