Following its ill-advised, if brief, employment of William Kristol, The New York Times has gone back to the drawing board in its search for a conservative columnist and done very well indeed. Word that Ross Douthat will be taking a spot on the Gray Lady's op-ed page is good news for its readers, for efforts at conservative reform, for intelligent discourse generally, and for the idea that writers should be rewarded for the strength of their ideas rather than the number of their sinecures.
I consider Ross a friend, so take my words with a grain of salt if you like. But he is easily among the very smartest people I've run across in nearly 20 years in journalism and, arguably more remarkable given his youth, one of the most intellectually well-rounded. He and I disagree about a great deal, but our disagreements are always (on his side at least) honest and thoughtful. I will miss his blog, which has long held a spot at the very top of my bookmarks, but the web's loss is newspapering's gain, and the latter is in greater need of help these days. Sincere congratulations to Ross, and the Times.
Update: I see Isaac beat me to this brief bout of professional hagiography. If I'd seen it before posting I might have restrained myself. Or I might not have. In any case, apologies for any redundant praise.
Click here to see what Douthat's longtime sparring partner Damon Linker has to say.