On October 16, 2023, John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, tweeted. Podhoretz’s defining trait is the tension between his desire to be seen as a serious intellectual and his compulsion to say things that reveal he is not one. Twitter, a medium that exposed this gap, was especially brutal for him due to his addiction to the platform, where he would compulsively spew forth abuse upon various adversaries, especially by lobbing spurious charges of antisemitism.
In 2019, recognizing the corrosive effect of his tweets upon his image, Podhoretz quit. He even wrote an op-ed titled “Why I quit Twitter — and you should, too,” in which he conceded his tweets were “part of a compulsive behavior pattern.”
Now he was back. The new Podhoretz Twitter persona would be very different, though. He was humbled, earnest, collegial. He was only using the platform to share important work. There would be no more bile.
Tim Miller cynically replied to this tweet with the prediction that Podhoretz “will engage in a joke or quarrel on here by Halloween,” two weeks away at the time. That would prove optimistic.
The first few missives of the new Podhoretz Twitter era indeed carried out this vision. He shared stories his magazine had published. Then a clip of Mitch McConnell defending Israel, which departed from his original vision of only sharing Commentary stories but was at least non-pugilistic. Then came a slightly cryptic attack on the New York Times. And then:
Podhoretz had managed to make it all of one day before he was flinging wild accusations of antisemitism again.
From there, the pattern continued. Podhoretz was again frenetically lashing out at all his targets:
And on and on it went.
On November 8, Podhoretz realized that he had once again gone astray and promised once again to mend his way. “So it’s been a blast, everybody, but after only a few weeks it’s clear Twitter is a disease — or at least a disease to which I am particularly susceptible — so I am going back into the shadows permanently.”
Shortly after, he added, “One slight emendation to my Twitter departure: I’ll still be posting articles of interest, which is why I came back in the first place.”
You can probably guess what happened next: