I have to agree with Patrick Rufini here, it is time to engage the left on our terms…
Let me first state that I don’t particularly care who writes for the New York Times op-ed page, and think all the handwringing about who will replace Bill Kristol is a collosal waste of time for conservatives. I long ago stopped reading the editorial pages, and rely mostly on RSS and the news section for my daily fill of politics. If I ever want opinion, which is a rarer and rarer thing in a media environment that prizes raw information, I read the smart blogs on highly relevant topics, like Marginal Revolution.
I have a great deal of respect for Bill Kristol and David Brooks (or for that matter, Charles Krauthammer and George Will), but they play a very defined role in the process — which is to represent a safe flavor of Beltway-centric conservatism that is acceptable within the Acela corridor. I appreciate that someone has to play this role, but by engaging in this parlor game, we are playing with fire: feeding the left’s desire to elevate a narrow elite of Times-worthy conservative pundits whose job it is to hold the braying Coulterite masses in check.
We shouldn’t play this game. Either we engage the liberal media on our terms or on none at all. The Times needs someone who is as far to the right, in as hard-edged and partisan a way, as Paul Krugman is to the left. The fact that strident left-wing voices one step voice up from Kos appear on the op-ed page is not considered a problem, so why shouldn’t the same be true on the right? Perhaps it would be better if both sides’ columnists were as reasonable and fair-minded as Brooks and Kristol. But if the Times continues to select liberal columnists who are locked and loaded for bear, we should accept nothing less for the right. To wit, the Times should pick Rush Limbaugh or a comparable full spectrum heartland conservative who defended Palin. Someone who would shock the Upper East Side, not reinforce its worldview in subtle ways. If not Rush, then Steyn or Lileks or someone with the intestinal fortitude for a fight.