Diary

WaPo's "pundit contest" winner is well-connected DC liberal (This Rhee-ly stinks!)

Kevin Huffman won the Washington Post’s first-ever “America’s Next Great (Liberal) Pundit Contest.” An average Joe wins based on his brilliant writing, right? Maybe not.

The Washington Post’s bio of Kevin Huffman says this:

I’m a Teach for America executive and a former lawyer and first-grade teacher. An Ohio native, I live in Washington and find the city puzzling, amusing and amazing.

One commenter on Huffman’s final essay had this to say:

Realchoices, I suspect Kevin Huffman will win. As much as he feigns familiarity with social networking sites, he is no Luddite. The Teach for America twitter feed has been campaigning for him and he has over 6,000 people in just one of the several TFA facebook groups. Google him and you’ll see a couple of major politicians tweeting for him including Kevin Johnson Mayor of Sacramento and some major education blogs. It’s clear he’s invested a great deal of time in this. One wonders though if his supporters will stick around after he wins.
Posted by: LSmith155 | November 23, 2009 11:08 PM

Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento (CA) mayor, pulled for Kevin Huffman in a Washington Post contest? Let’s look at a Kevin Johnson story in the news from way back in…today’s Washington Examiner:

Inspector general: Rhee intervened for Johnson
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
November 24, 2009
(Andrew Harnik/Examiner)
On June 27, 2008, Michelle Rhee, head of the Washington, D.C., school system, paid a visit to Gerald Walpin, who was inspector general of the government volunteer organization AmeriCorps.

At the time, Walpin was investigating a California private school known as St. Hope, which was founded by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star and friend of Rhee’s who was running for mayor of Sacramento. St. Hope had received about $850,000 in AmeriCorps money, and Walpin’s investigators were looking into charges that Johnson had misused those funds by assigning paid volunteer tutors to run errands for him and wash his car, as well as making them take part in political activities.

In the course of the investigation, some young female AmeriCorps volunteers also charged that Johnson had made inappropriate sexual advances toward them and offered one of them $1,000 a month to keep quiet.

Rhee, who later became engaged to marry Johnson, had been on St. Hope’s board of directors before taking over as chief of the District of Columbia system. Her apparent goal, as she visited Walpin, was to vouch for Johnson.

Let’s check out Michelle Rhee’s Wikipedia page:

Michelle A. Rhee (Korean Hangul: 이양희, RR: I Yang-hui, M-R: Yi Yanghŭi) is chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system. In 1997 she founded The New Teacher Project (TNTP), which in ten years has recruited 10,000 teachers in twenty states.
(…)
Spouse(s) Kevin Huffman (divorced 2007) Kevin Johnson (engaged)

What a coincidence!! Out of almost 5,000 entrants, WaPo picks a guy in the final ten who was married to the chancellor of DC’s public schools!

Teach for America supported Huffman on both Facebook and Twitter:

exec Kevin Huffman is a finalist to be America’s Next Great Pundit for the Washington Post – voting starts next week! http://bit.ly/4bDsoo
6:32 PM Oct 30th from Facebook

Here’s the Twitter of the good Sacramento mayor with the Michelle Rhee connection:

Vote for Kevin Huffman for America’s Next Great Pundit by 8 PM deadline. This is the final vote – take a few… http://bit.ly/085zn7I
about 11 hours ago from Facebook

OK, so Kevin Huffman had a little deceptive bio there, and he used his networking to win votes. Can he write?

That’s subjective, of course, but his final essay should have been his best. Even the judges thought that it was terrible. WaPo liberal pundit expert Eugene Robinson bent over backwards to be nice. WaPo assistant editorial page editor Autumn Brewington said simply of both: “Not their best work.”

You really want to read Kevin Huffman’s disjointed final piece “The Palin take on health care costs”? Here goes. Second paragraph:

Clearly Palin, as the leading conservative intellect, would be eager to embrace rational cost-control measures. Her keen grasp on policy issues had always been a beacon of light as I sorted out my own views. Watch out America, we were coming out of the wilderness!

Huffman’s a winner, all right. Making fun of Sarah Palin always works.

All of the points that I made in a previous Red State post must be re-confirmed. WaPo also covered over the bio of Courtney Martin, a bi-weekly pundit on the liberal The American Prospect website (who shouldn’t have been eligible under the contest rules). Finalist Zeba Khan bemoaned that the talent contest had become a social networking contest, and yes, was she right. The poor Nobel prize-winner (the only talent of the bunch of ten) never had a chance to survive the first round.

There’s also a question I have about Huffman’s initial entry, which begins: “You may have seen that a 19-year-old Georgetown University sophomore named Charley Cooper is advertising for a personal assistant to take care of some of his everyday tasks like picking up the dry cleaning, organizing the closet, etc. ” The pundit contest deadline was October 21st, but that entry links to an article in the Washington Post that appeared on October 22nd.

Here’s a video exchange about Sarah Palin:

KEVIN HUFFMAN: I think if you’re Sarah Palin, though, your best bet is trying to make a lot of money through your book, through radio, and staying out of the races.
WaPo’s JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right, right. I think she’s out to get as much cash as she can.

Congratulations to Kevin Huffman, the Washington Post’s next great liberal pundit!

To Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee, good luck with those investigations!