Ross Douthat

As I’ve noted earlier, Bill Kristol’s column was terminated by the NY Times for sound journalistic reasons; it was unimaginative, uninformative, lazy in the extreme and predictably ideological.  There was no value added to the paper other than if one wanted a dependable barometer of the week’s favored rightwing talking points.

In replacing Kristol, the Times chose to find another conservative voice and picked the young Douthat (youngest op ed columnist there ever) who had previously been a senior editor at The Atlantic.

It was a damned smart choice.  Again today, his contribution demonstrates a new sort of creature – a conservative column which is without cliche or contemporary talking point.  And if you don’t think that unusual in the breed of modern conservative newspaper columnists, then it is a certainty that you’ve not been reading them.  Bravo to everyone involved.

He will, I suspect, have little effect on moderating the GOP and conservative movement extremists – Douthat is vastly out-matched by them simply as a matter of numbers and by the appetite for easy populist hatreds of the sort the right has promulgated for several decades now.  But at least he points out a new path for young conservative thinkers and writers and he also provides a valuable and salutary lesson for us on the left…there are people from the ‘other side’ who are not crazy nor craven and with whom we can have a bloody good conversation.

Read it here

Update: Gad!  So now, in this morning’s reading, I turn to the Washington Post and here’s Bill Kristol, taken on to do a column, by Fred Hiatt I suppose, after the Times got rid of him.  And it is the typical example of what he’d been doing at the Times.

So maybe Republicans should stop obsessively gazing at it. Instead, the GOP might focus on taking on the Obama administration, whose policies are surprisingly vulnerable to political and substantive attack. Battling Barack Obama is an enterprise that offers better grounds for Republican hope than indulging in spasms of introspection or bouts of petty recrimination.

No, the payoff from a policy confrontation with Obama won’t be immediate. The economy appears to be set for a short-term uptick. Obama remains popular. Many of his proposals look superficially attractive. But we haven’t yet had a thorough airing of their implications, to say nothing of their real-world consequences if they are enacted…

Kristol here

These comments are a precise reflection of current GOP electoral and propaganda goals.  Compare, for example, the notions forwarded here and those forwarded by Fred Barnes which I noted several posts earlier here.  Kristol is a strategist and a propagandist.  That’s his role and function.  Everything he writes or says is transparently an instance of such.

In contrast to the Times decision to get rid of him sits the WP’s decision to take him on.  And that decision has to be seen in the context of the people already working at the Post who are engaged in similar roles like Krauthammer, Gerson and Will.  There are left-leaning writers there too (EJ Dionne and Eugene Robinson, most notably) but each is a tempered personality with little of the stark idological certainty of the four just mentioned.

The decline of this paper from the days of Watergate to now is a tragedy.  It has, somehow, allowed itself to be prostituted by conservative movement/GOP propaganda strategies of placing high-profile supportive voices regularly on as many editorial pages as they can manage.

Update 2: And here is Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen on today’s Kristol column:

THE WAY FORWARD IS KRISTOL CLEAR….For about a year, Bill Kristol was a columnist forTime magazine, where he would routinely write pieces explaining what he’d like to see the Republican Party do. The editors were unimpressed, so Time dropped him.

From there, Kristol became a columnist for the New York Times, where he routinely wrote pieces explaining what he’d like to see the Republican Party do. The paper of record was also unimpressed, so it dropped him, too.

Fortunately for Kristol, conservative pundits are not part of a merit-based system, so he’s been hired by the Washington Post, and is using his new position to write columns about what he’d like to see the Republican Party do.

The Republican Party’s navel is a pretty unattractive thing.

So maybe Republicans should stop obsessively gazing at it. Instead, the GOP might focus on taking on the Obama administration, whose policies are surprisingly vulnerable to political and substantive attack. Battling Barack Obama is an enterprise that offers better grounds for Republican hope than indulging in spasms of introspection or bouts of petty recrimination.

And to think, I expected Kristol to write a column encouraging his beloved GOP to forge a more cooperative relationship with the popular Democratic president, while moving closer to the mainstream on major policy disputes. Imagine my surprise to see the Post run the same column Kristol’s been writing since 1993, only with slightly different issue specifics.

As the Weekly Standard editor sees it, if Republicans go on the attack now, voters will know who to “blame next year” and the 2010 midterms “could be the winter of Obama’s discontent.”

Time and the New York Times let this guy go? What were they thinking letting a visionary like Kristol slip through their fingers?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s