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Your Next New York Times Columnist

According to this report in The Huffington Post, The New York Times has just decided to hire Bill Kristol as a columnist. The piece isn't exactly clear on the matter, but it appears as if Kristol will only write one column a week, as opposed to the usual two. Here's Andrew:

But ideologically, having both David Brooks and Bill Kristol as the sole representatives of the right-of-center is to focus on a very small neocon niche in a conservative world that is currently exploding with intellectual diversity and new currents of thought. There are about five "national greatness" conservatives out there. Four of them now have columns in the WaPo or NYT: Kristol, Brooks, Krauthammer and Gerson. Thank God, I guess, for the blogosphere. We have no restrictions here, do we?

(Update: a reader asked me who the other national greatness conservative was. Bob Kagan. And, of course, he does have a column in the WaPo. So it's five for five.)

I don't think it's quite fair to say that Charles Krauthammer and Michael Gerson represent the same strain of conservatism, but this seems basically right. Another problem is that Kristol is at his worst when trying to tailor his writing to more "mainstream" publications (he was a Time columnist until recently, where he seems to have been wisely replaced by Ramesh Ponnuru). The beauty of Kristol's Weekly Standard editorials is that his thuggish side is allowed to shine; at Time it was constricted. So, for instance, rather than simply saying that the Democrats are pathetic losers who hate America, we get columns like "Hold Your Conventional Wisdom: Three Reasons Why Republicans Could Win in 2008."C'mon--where's the fun in that? It's no fun to read political hacks unless they are at least slightly more obnoxious than David Broder. 

The thing to never forget about Kristol was well encapsulated by something Andrew said in another forum (I think it's this segment of "I don't know if Bill Kristol even believes in God. I just think he believes in religion."

--Isaac Chotiner