There are many good things one can say about Benjamin Balint's Running Commentary, and only one negative---which, though it certainly affects the whole work, still makes for an informative, smart read.
Running Commentary is graceful & well-written, thoroughly researched, informative, interesting (almost surprisingly so), and intelligent. It makes its case fairly [and sometimes very] well, that the sociopolitical development and maturation of Commentary's so-called Family is---sometimes as a microcosm, sometimes in the breach--very much the story of America's Jews and America's politics.
But there is, to be sure, a distinct, if sometimes subtle, vein of glum nostalgia for Commentary's glory days, which the author apparently sees as being decisively in the past---seemingly, the leftist/radical/liberal past...
Though the author seems okay with Commentary's embrace of Israel, there's a faint tone of snark in descriptions of Podhoretz's evolving statements, beliefs & convictions over the years. As for the recent era of John Podhoretz, jr., Balint tells precious little, other than to quote others who had nothing kind to say about Commentary in the present. Some of the changes Podhoretz, Jr. brought about could certainly be called questionable--most notably the inclusion of a wretched Yiddish-joke feature and the deletion of the book reviews section (replaced with D.J. Myers' fine column about books, but that's not the same as individual, comprehensive essays by different reviewers)...
But without any larger context at all---examples of the magazine's intellectual status represented by other pieces during this period, of how Commentary stayed the [previously established] course on Israel, domestic policies, foreign affairs, etc.---telling of these shortcomings, however subtly and by implication---forms neither an outright pointed critique nor truly balanced, neutral history---it's more like sniping.
Non-fans of post-60's Commentary or neoconservatism in general will nod enthusiastically at the implicit theme of the magazine's alleged decline in later decades, especially under John Podhoretz. But little or no hard evidence of this is offered, other than the addition of [gasp] graphic ornamentation & a few changes to content which admittedly lean toward the fluffy side. Would these same people then agree that the New York Times has fallen precipitously from it's one-time position as the Grey Lady, an unquestionably adult, restrained, fairly scrupulous source of news, to a pandering, hipness-seeking, smugly if reflexively liberal newspaper for self-satisfied New Yorkers?
Doesn't seem likely.
Overall, Running Commentary is solid, worthwhile reading.