The soft bigotry of lowered expectations

Let’s get this out of the way.

It’s not my place to say this, but you know it, I know it, John knows it, and all the circle-jerkers at the Atlantic know this too, despite what they say: there’s no way Ross Douthat would score a New York Times gig if he weren’t a conservative.

There’s some shit you just shouldn’t eat and I’m not eating this.

Sorry, folks, but no one wins from this kind of blatant quota-ism

Update: If there is a God, we will all rot in hell if we do not criticize Marc Ambinder for saying this:

I think Ross is the sharpest, most innovative heterodox thinker of his generation, left or right.

Update #2: It’s possible I’m overreacting, given that they’ve already got MoDo. But still, Douthat’s stunning lack of accomplishment makes this a choice that eats away at what little credibility newspapers have left.

Update #3: The Village Voice has a run-down of silly things Ross has written. Now, for the most part, I think that’s unfair. Any blogger will have written all kinds of silly things and many of the things they cite just aren’t that bad. The problem with this pick is not what Douthat has done, it’s what he hasn’t done (worked as a reporter or distinguished himself in any way). That said, this is really asinine:

Last July, I argued that Louisiana’s David Vitter ought to resign his office after he more or less admitted to having frequented prostitutes. I stand by that position. However, if David Vitter – having conspicuously failed to resign – were to face off in a Presidential race against Barack Obama, I would be inclined to hold my nose and vote for Vitter. I don’t think there’s necessarily a contradiction here, any more than I think there would be a contradiction for a culturally-conservative Democrat to simultaneously believe that Bill Clinton ought to have resigned over the Lewinsky affair while declining to regret having voted for Clinton over Bob Dole in ’96. Regretting the passing of a particular moral standard does not require one to always vote as if that standard were still in place.






109 replies
  1. 1
    Phoebe says:

    I thought it was understood. It’s their version of "fair and balanced" and yeah, expectations were certainly lowered by Bill Kristol.

  2. 2
    burnspbesq says:

    At least Douthat is an actual conservative, unlike Kristol who was a fascist warmonger and Brooks who reminds me of the doofus in junior high who would say or do anything in exchange for being allowed to hang with the truly cool kids.

  3. 3
    WereBear says:

    Expectations were lowered into the hold of the ship, hammered through the hull, eaten by sharks, excreted, and sunk to the bottom of the Marianas Trench with Bill Kristol.

  4. 4
    DFS says:

    Yeah, honestly I think getting outraged over this gives the Times op-ed page a hell of a lot more credit than it deserves.

    I mean, yes, Douthat is a moralist loon who’s put far, far more thought into Jennifer Aniston’s personal grooming habits than any allegedly serious political voice ought. But is he worse than Tom Friedman? Or worse than Maureen Dowd?

    After all, if we’re going to talk quotas, if Dowd had XY chromosomes we would have never heard of her.

  5. 5
    Comrade Stuck says:

    There’s some shit you just shouldn’t eat and I’m not eating this.

    Never considered it. Guess I should care more about what wingnut newspaper columnist writes where, but if they produce a decent amount of high quality mockworthy material, then I am pleased with the arrangement. I mean somebody has to counter Modo’s relentless left wing knob polishing.

  6. 6
    The Moar You Know says:

    I woulda got a raise last year, but some conservative guy got promoted right over my head. He’s totally incompetent, but we all gotta treat him like his shit don’t stink, or else he’ll sue.

    Fucking conservatives. They get all the good jobs and they totally just sit on their butts all day. Been over to the Corner? They just sit on their fat butts all day. You walk in and ask for help and it takes ’em twenty minutes to even get you a pencil.

    We oughta send ’em all back where they came from.

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    Where did they come from? Where is this planet Wingnut, and why is it so distorting all our orbits?

  8. 8
    gbear says:

    OT, but I just gotta say that I heart Michael Steele today. I’ll be there with a bucket of water and a box of bandaids when he goes down in flames.

    In an interview with GQ, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made some statements that will likely be controversial with many of his Republican constituents.

    On if women have the right to choose an abortion: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice."

    On whether homosexuality is a choice: "Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.’"

  9. 9
    JenJen says:

    Re: Ambinder: I know, right? And wouldn’t "unorthodox" sound somewhat less annoying than "heterodox"?

    Sure, it’s quota-ism, but when Frank Rich retires, I imagine they’ll replace him with a liberal. Good luck replacing him at all, of course.

  10. 10
    horatius says:

    When Marc Ambinder wrote those words, he was solely referring to chronic masturbators.

    Now it makes sense.

  11. 11
    TenguPhule says:

    heterodox thinker

    If this means he loves to listen to his cock talk to him, this is correct.

  12. 12
    evie says:

    I really don’t get the outrage. The Times wants a conservative on their page and they are putting one on who is not ridiculously polarizing. So he’s middling? So what? That’s a plus at this point as far as conservatives go.

    And if you’re so smart, what conservative would you put in his place?

  13. 13
    evie says:

    gbear — wow. Good for Steele. But he’s toast.

  14. 14
    jbb says:

    @evie:
    Daniel Larison.

  15. 15
    Mogden says:

    Larison would have been so much more interesting!

  16. 16
    Zach says:

    Here I was thinking that the genius of tapping Ross Douthat was the single thing I’ve seen the entire Internet politosphere agree on since its inception. Thanks for avoiding making this an exception to the rule.

  17. 17
    DougJ says:

    And if you’re so smart, what conservative would you put in his place?

    Daniel Larison. I’d settle for Matt Welch. He may write some dumb stuff but he has a real journalistic background.

    But the larger question is this: if you can’t find a qualified conservative why should you hire one at all?

    Part of our civilization, if you can even call it that, dies when things like this happen. I am dead serious.

  18. 18
    DFS says:

    Anybody who thought they would seriously consider Larison is delusional. He writes about seventeen grade levels above what they’d be going for.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    And if you’re so smart, what conservative would you put in his place?

    Ross is a pretty safe choice. He doesn’t go off the rails like so many of the others. OTOH, perhaps Ross was the only one willing to risk not having an employer in 30-90 days. He stands a good shot of being the last person ever hired by a newspaper in this country.

  20. 20
    stillnotking says:

    there’s no way Ross Douthat would score a New York Times gig if he weren’t a conservative

    lolwut… MoDo and Tommy "Porn ‘Stache" Friedman ring any bells? Douthat is overqualified to write NYT op-eds. Actually I think Carrot Top would be overqualified to write NYT op-eds.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    MoDo and Tommy “Porn ‘Stache” Friedman ring any bells?

    I hate Friedman. But he’s one three Pulitzers so by the lights of their professions, he’s more than qualified.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    I think Ross is the sharpest, most innovative heterodox thinker of his generation, left or right.

    Unless there’s a meaning of ‘heterodox’ drastically different from what I’m thinking, this was the most ridiculous quote I’ve seen all day.

    Thanks for highlighting the instant "BULLSH*T!" reaction so many of us had to this ridiculous overpraise.

    Yay! A conservative will write stuff for the New York Times! Yay! He must be brilliant! Yay! If he’s not as stupid as your run of the mill right wing nutcase pundit, then he counts as brilliant! Yay!

  23. 23
    burnspbesq says:

    It could be worse. They could have raided the Atlantic and come away with McArdle or Ambinder instead. Or they could have raided the LA Times and gotten Max (shudder) Boot.

  24. 24

    It could be worse, Ambinder could have written:

    It must be very strange to be Ross Douthat. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

    I want to know why Ross isn’t going out and joining the military. Hell, he’s only 29. That means that 7 years ago, when 9/11 happened he would have been 22, prime age for joining up. Heck at 29 he’s still eligible to enlist. I’m sure the Army would love to have him. In fact he and Reihan Salam could join a buddy platoon. Are there any young conservatives who have served their country in uniform?

  25. 25
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    At least Douthat is an actual conservative, unlike Kristol who was a fascist warmonger

    Oh Jesus f**king Christ.

  26. 26
    Joshua Norton says:

    I think Ross is the sharpest, most innovative heterodox thinker of his generation, left or right.

    And some people think the white stuff in the middle of a Twinkie is good for you. Doesn’t mean they’re right.

    Takes all kinds….

  27. 27
    jenniebee says:

    Do you think the Times will let him publish another article speculating on why it’s so difficult, in his experience, for women to have orgasms? Because that was full of win.

  28. 28
    Mike P says:

    Larison would have gotten my vote as well.

  29. 29
    camchuck says:

    Is "heterodox thinker" code for "not Limbaugh’s bitch?"

  30. 30
    DonkeyKong says:

    heterodox?

    Does that mean Ross has a penis and a snatch?

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:

    OT, but this is a large order of cool.

    Peanuts reimagined in the style of Frank Miller.

    http://www.cinematical.com/pho.....n/1419750/

  32. 32
    Anon. says:

    Ah yes. Who could forget his vocal (and, later, defensive) support of Sarah Palin?

  33. 33
    DougJ says:

    @jenniebee

    That woudn’t even make the top ten of weird sexual stuff MoDo has written. Remember the one where she speculated about how many men her personal assistant might have slept with? Cree. Py.

  34. 34
    bootlegger says:

    I was hoping for Puberty Boy or Joe T. Plumber for the con position at the NYT. Much more entertaining.

  35. 35
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Joe the Plumber, I can’t believe that they overlooked Joe the Plumber! Elitist fuckwads.
    Edit: bootlegger beat me to JTP by that much.

  36. 36
    psychobroad says:

    Go look at Atrios. Please.

  37. 37

    […] that turd Kristol.   I’d have preferred Daniel Larison myself but as DFS at Balloon Juice said: Anybody who thought they would seriously consider Larison is delusional. He writes about seventeen […]

  38. 38
    Comrade Stuck says:

    A stream of conciousness rant not meant as too serious.

    It’s kind of amusing to me that people parse through these guys who right from the right, searching for a sensible conservative who understands the true meaning, like it was some mystical ancient belief system that needs to be carefully unwrapped from it’s former self, in a simple way we can understand.

    I don’t think it’s at all complicated or mystical, it has just been thrown under the bus at least since Bush SR. was presnit. Conservatism by definition is efficient simplicity. But not without the epoxy of responsible to hold it together. Lower taxes, but not so low it threatens the economy and the viability of the government to function. Be ready for war, but don’t go looking for them. Only enough regulation to not overtly kill people with industry, and on and on. There are many nuances to these principles that an opposition party is needed to provide more protection and met needs of average citizens, comes the liberals/progressives.

    The problem is, that the GOP has become infected with a virile strain of an atavistic ideological virus that covets authoritarianism and social Darwinism above all else. It has always been present in this country and has raised itself again as current the leadership of the Republican party.

    People giving voice to how it should be is a good thing, I suppose. And who does that matters for an influential newspaper, but only action on the ground will change things. If Douthat, or whoever, uses such a position to agitate for a new way, and likely a new party for a decent and truly patriotic party from the right, then I will listen and care. Because we operate without a viable and responsible opposition party at our peril. If it’s just more careful noodling to not offend, then I won’t listen and won’t care.

  39. 39
    El Cid says:

    I don’t have any particular brief with Douthat, nor have I forgotten who else regularly writes for the NYT, such as MoDo and Friedman Unit.

  40. 40
    Max B. says:

    first of all: yes, douthat got this job because he’s a conservative. but that’s totally fine. unlike a job where one’s opinions are irrelevant to one’s job qualifications, a times columnist is (ideally, at least) essentially qualified by the quality of one’s opinions and the quality of one’s writing ability. hypothetically, even if the fifty best political writers were all flaming liberals (maybe not so hypothetical, but roll with me here), the times really ought to have at least some representation of conservative viewpoints.

    forget comparing him to bill kristol (which is unfair to just about anyone except, well, bill kristol); on the list of "conservative political writers" in any medium, douthat would rank pretty highly in both categories. sure, douthat pisses me off constantly, but frankly, any conservative i regularly read would piss me off constantly, because i think conservatives are wrong about most things and people being wrong pisses me off. but douthat is a good writer and engagable – he’s not a redstate blogger or a party hack. he’s a conservative that you can debate without feeling like you’re yelling at a cinder block.

    and forget larison. he’s an entirely different breed of conservative than douthat, a difference of kind as much as quality (and yes, i’d have prefered him, too; i think he’s both a better writer and a better thinker). but the times, by it’s nature, both cannot and will not have a columnist whose views are entirely outside the overton window.

    and what a victory for the blogosphere! and yes, that seems shallow, but think about it this way – when, say, bob herbert or tom friedman calls it quits, this move makes it that much more likely that his replacement could be ezra klein, matt ylesias, or dave sirota, rather than [insert hack here].

    and also keep in mind that this does move the times‘ op-ed page, overall, to the left, at least to the degree that douthat exists in that little thing we like to call "reality." the conservative spectrum is represented there by douthat and brooks, the latter of whom thinks the current direction of the gop is "nihilistic," "disastrous," and "insane." this is further cutting the wingnuts out of the establishment.

    i mean, douthat wrote this paragraph just last week:

    As readers of Grand New Party know, one of the biggest things that separates my views on domestic policy from what I think it’s fair to call the conservative mainstream is a concern about socioeconomic stratification (and, more exactly, its impact on socioeconomic mobility), and a belief that welfare-state spending should provide a safety net and promote upward mobility. What separates my views from progressives like Matt, on the other hand, is a belief that we should be able to pursue this goal without having the government swallow an ever-larger share of GDP. Of course the easiest way to reduce stratification is just to dramatically increase "the quantity of taxes" and let government spending do the rest – but if we’re trying to strike a balance between liberty and equality, rather than just shrugging our shoulders and embracing a little more soft despotism and a little less voluntary association, then the idea of a means-tested and targeted welfare state looks like something worth pursuing.

    now, i disagree. but here’s a conservative who is debating how to reduce socioeconomic stratification rather than whether it exists or how to exacerbate it. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. stop kvetching.

  41. 41
    Emma Anne says:

    After all, if we’re going to talk quotas, if Dowd had XY chromosomes we would have never heard of her.

    We shouldn’t have heard of her *with* her XX chomosomes. There are so many better women writers out there, even given that she’s filling the women’s slot at the NYT.

    Whereas the list of better conservative writers than Ross Douthat is very, very short.

  42. 42
    DougJ says:

    now, i disagree. but here’s a conservative who is debating how to reduce socioeconomic stratification rather than whether it exists or how to exacerbate it. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. now, i disagree. but here’s a conservative who is debating how to reduce socioeconomic stratification rather than whether it exists or how to exacerbate it. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. stop kvetching.

    son of sam. here’s a serial killer who didn’t eat his victims after he killed them. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. stop kvetching.

  43. 43
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Haha )

  44. 44
    valdivia says:

    The minute this dude wrote a whole disquisition on how porn is the same as adultery he precluded himself of any of my lists of smarties. He was also rather gushing of barbie spice until it was inevitable that she seemed the fool she was.

  45. 45
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Roy Edroso recaps some of Douthat’s Greatest Hits.

    Douthat explains why he would vote for Diaperepublican David Vitter before he’d vote for Barack Obama ("Regretting the passing of a particular moral standard does not require one to always vote as if that standard were still in place").

    Fuck me, that boy’s the next George Will.

  46. 46
    Ricky Bobby says:

    With all the critical stuff going on out there in the world today, Ross’s new job rates pretty low on my "important-shit-o-meter."

    No need to get anyone’s panties in a bunch over this.

  47. 47
    jenniebee says:

    @DougJ: Wow. It only took MoDo 40 years to realize that the sexual revolution, you know, happened. And that anecdote about her brother – so there is somebody who’s more of an uptight catty asshole than MoDo after all. Looks like I owe some people a Coke.

  48. 48
    superking says:

    Douthat is such a huge tool. I really can’t believe they hired him. More than any person I am aware of, that guy needs a beatin’. Bar none.

  49. 49
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Whereas the list of better conservative writers than Ross Douthat is very, very short.

    So Douthat is the tallest midget in The Whole World.

  50. 50
    Cain says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    Joe the Plumber, I can’t believe that they overlooked Joe the Plumber! Elitist fuckwads.
    Edit: bootlegger beat me to JTP by that much.

    Don’t think I didn’t get the "Get Smart" reference. I’m still old enough to remember that!

    cain

  51. 51

    […] Chortle 2009 March 11 by Joe Tobacco I like this from DougJ: […]

  52. 52
    Max B. says:

    son of sam. here’s a serial killer who didn’t eat his victims after he killed them. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. stop kvetching.

    doug, three quick items first:

    a) clearly the argument i made can only be taken so far, which your example shows. touche.

    b) ross douthat has certainly published some ludicrous shit in his day. in fact, quite a bit of ludicrous shit. and i simply cannot deal with his lengthy dissertations into theoloical minutiae.

    c) i do, in fact, eat my victims, but i donate their clothes to the salvation army, so i think that’s a wash.

    but on the whole, i think that the times appointing a conservative to replace a conservative was a given, and the fact that they chose a blogger who makes non-underpants gnomes arguments that engage with actual issues, as opposed to a total maniac or a gop hack, is actually something worth celebrating. like i said, i would prefer that that blogger was daniel larison, too, or even douthat’s sort of-partner reihan, but given the window of possibilities i think douthat is squarely on the acceptable side of the ledger. it would certainly hurt less to see the times continue to hire conservatives if the times also didn’t host repulsive creatures like modo or tom friedman, but, hey, baby steps.

    so maybe don’t stop kvetching. but kvetch in perspective.

  53. 53
    NonyNony says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    Yeah, I actually came back over here to post this tidbit from the same Edroso post:

    In short, he’s a little crazier than Kristol, not to mention much more Jesus-y, and his appointment will probably have the same galvanic effect on our culture as Michael Steele’s historic election to chairman of the RNC.

    But that whole post of Douthat’s Greatest Hits is quite good.

    As for who I’d put in there instead of Douthat – tough call. Since the "mainstream" conservatives are rallying around the tactic of "be more batshit insane daily" to try to win elections, to get someone not batshit insane you’d need to find a non-mainstream conservative. But the Times is all about putting only mainstream and "acceptable" views on its editorial page, so if they picked a non-mainstream conservative they’d be accused of putting a "liberal" in that slot (because if it isn’t "mainstream" conservative it’s liberal. Seriously – I’ll bet they could put Larison in that slot and people would accuse him of being a liberal).

    I don’t think they had a long list of people to choose from these days. I’m not actually sure that they found someone who isn’t going to prove to be almost as much of an embarrassment as Kristol was. Only almost because Kristol is, by the Laws of Nature, always wrong. At least there’s a probability that Douthat can write a column that isn’t factually wrong. Still, future looks hazy.

    And hey – when Douthat proves to be a net negative for the paper they can always go with their next choice and give Megan McArdle that slot next.

  54. 54
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Someone has jetlag.

  55. 55

    ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.’"

    Wow.

    If he’d said things like this when he was running for governor he might, just might, be living in that nice house in Annapolis.

    Oh well, ready the life boats, he’s getting ready to jump ship.

    But I still say he gets subjected to trial by fire before he gets his check and virgins from Soros.

  56. 56
    Max B. says:

    And hey – when Douthat proves to be a net negative for the paper they can always go with their next choice and give Megan McArdle that slot next.

    ok, that would be torches ‘n’ pitchforks o’clock.

  57. 57
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Cain:
    Thank you for that. I turn sixty one next month and I dread the day when all of my antique pop culture references are finally obsolete.

  58. 58
    Andrew says:

    I can’t wait for the feedback when Douthat inevitably tells women when, where, and how to have orgasms.

  59. 59
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m really surprised Joe the Plumber didn’t get the job.

  60. 60
    The Other Steve says:

    And Jeff Goldstein. You’d think cock-slapping would fit right in at the NY Times.

  61. 61
    Jen R says:

    @Zach: Didn’t the entire Internet politisphere agree about Rod Blagojevich? Unless you consider "delusional, or just stupid?" a major point of contention, that is.

  62. 62
    Andrew says:

    Also, anyone want to wager on the size and kinkiness of Douthat’s porn collection?

    I’m laying down a bet for hundreds of gigabytes and double-dildos-and-wetsuits.

  63. 63
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I think I said this on an earlier thread, I find Douthat’s writing boring, moralistic and preachy. Hell, many people who write in the comments section of this blog have more original and interesting things to say than Douthat.

  64. 64
    Mike in NC says:

    I want to know why Ross isn’t going out and joining the military. Hell, he’s only 29.

    Different rules apply for wingnuts. Plus he wouldn’t fare well with Joe the Drill Instructor. Five pushups are a bitch.

  65. 65
    Colonel Danite says:

    At least at the NYT website, we will be able to post comments about Ross’ columns. The coward turned off comments on his Atlantic blog right about the time he wrote that watching porn was the equivalent of adultery. I personally can’t wait for "Ross Dauthat’s Hair" to post his first comment on Douthat’s first column at the Times.

  66. 66
    Kiril says:

    I have a question. Not snark, but does anyone here actually read the NYT opinion page anymore? I check out Krugman’s blog from time to time. I still like the crossword puzzles late in the week. I don’t trust the news section at all. It always seems to me that the only way anybody finds out what’s on the NYT opinion page anymore is when something is getting made fun of in the blogosphere.

  67. 67
    Surabaya Stew says:

    @DougJ

    It’s not my place to say this…

    Sure it is! (Aren’t you the 3rd wheel on Balloon Juice?) You’re 100% correct; no way Douthat would ever have gotten this gig if he were not "conservative" enough for the "paper of record". This futile and pointless gesture makes me happy I haven’t regularly read the Times since I stopped becoming a reverse commuter.

  68. 68
    Kris says:

    White privilege at its finest.

  69. 69
    jnfr says:

    NYTimes columns are a disgrace half the time anyway, so whatever. Douthat will at least be an improvement over Kristol. Of course my cats would be an improvement over Kristol. I would also like Larison better, but Douthat, at the Atlantic, is higher profile. Like it or not, that counts. At least they didn’t go for McArdle, because then I would have to hit my head with a hammer.

  70. 70

    I think this is on topic.

    Lincoln issued his first Executive Order on April 25th. It directed a General to allow a militia to assemble because it was consistent with the Constitution, and then to shell the civilian population if the militia did anything illegal.

    Obama issued his 18th Executive Order on March 11th, establishing The White House Council On Women and Girls, committing his Treasury Secretary, who has no staff, in the middle of an economic collapse, to a series of regular meetings.

    The White House Web web-site appears to be 3 weeks out of date. If so, it is two weeks behind University of California Santa Barbara’s web-site.

  71. 71
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Ross Douthat once wrote a piece for the Atlantic where he referred to a poor black woman living in subsidized housing in New Orleans as a "welfare duchess" because she had a large television. I’m not sure what screen size is his cut-off point before he starts calling people names like that, but then Douthat probably thinks she shouldn’t have a TV at all.

    He also linked to assholish white supremacist Steve Sailer’s site for most of his Atlantic tenure, and cited Sailer approvingly over and over again. Sometime last year he finally removed Sailer’s hate site from his blog list. I guess he was cleaning up his act a little because he wanted a big promotion. Now he has it, but he’s still the same gutless fool he always was. He’s the perfect replacement for Kristol because he and Bloody Billy share one trait above all – party loyalty. I wonder which one sucks the GOP nutsack harder.

  72. 72
    Joshua Norton says:

    Douthat will at least be an improvement over Kristol.

    I do not have to have read a word from his pen in order to pass judgment on this new hire: FAIL. A twenty-nine year old conservative is by definition a dunderhead since for his entire miserable life, conservatives in power have done nothing BUT FAIL! I look forward to passing many future judgments based upon not reading his columns.

    Good day, sir!

    I SAID GOOD DAY!

  73. 73
    Silver says:

    I just read Ambinder’s post.

    If you need to know what Ross Douthat’s semen tastes like, I think it’s safe to say that Marc Ambinder can tell you.

  74. 74
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Surabaya Stew, I gave up on reading them twice daily when they started going down on Lieberman too often for me to ignore.

  75. 75
    Brandon T says:

    I’m torn.

    On one hand, there are lower standards for conservatives, especially in the era of Samuel Wurzelbacher worship. Being a non-insane conservative like Douthat instantly puts you in the upper quintile.

    At the same time, he’s 29? Has he worked anywhere besides the Atlantic? I mean, I’d have a similar problem if Frank Rich retired and they randomly replaced him with Ezra Klein or Matt Yglesias; sure, I agree with their views, but it’s sort of an insanely sudden high-profile promotion that reeks of anti-meritocracy.

  76. 76
    Mike in NC says:

    Ross Douthat once wrote a piece for the Atlantic where he referred to a poor black woman living in subsidized housing in New Orleans as a "welfare duchess" because she had a large television.

    "Grand New Party" indeed. What a joke! Go fuck yourselves, Ross & Newt.

  77. 77
    Barbar says:

    DougJ, wasn’t the Times editor quoted as saying that he thought highly of Megan McArdle? Haven’t we dodged a bullet here?

    Douthat is a moron, and his liberal Harvard classmates are toiling in relative obscurity, because there are a lot of smart liberal writers. There’s still very few people out there who would be better, because American conservatism is completely brain-dead.

  78. 78
    Barbar says:

    And yeah, taking the NYT op-ed page seriously is a mistake to begin with. So much stupid.

  79. 79
    Hyperion says:

    It’s possible I’m overreacting

    well, this is teh internet after all.
    i suggest saving your outrage for more important matters.

  80. 80
    joel says:

    Ambinder is a fine reporter, but not much for editorials. The Atlantic is a tad too enamored with itself anyways. Douthat is a reasonable choice for a theologian, but his political awareness is fairly weak and his taste in popular culture is weird. Still a far better writer than Friedman or Dowd (to echo others).

  81. 81
    Pooh says:

    That Ambinder quote is so LOL. I mean, if by heterodox he means Douthat "will strike a pose of weighing options with great moral longings before finally settling on the orthodox movement conservative position" than yes, he is heterodox.

  82. 82
    gizmo says:

    Here’s what I don’t get. Conservatism is a failure. It has proven time and again to be a political philosophy that produces catastrophically bad results. Conservatives have historically been wrong about nearly everything. So why does the NY Times feel an obligation to yield some of its space to a conservative? They seem to be operating under the assumption that conservatism is a valid world view that needs to represented. Why not just acknowledge that conservatives are full of shit and let them do their pontificating over at Free Republic?

  83. 83
    jcricket says:

    Look, Douthat’s basically innocuous. He’s not going to convince anyone of anything. He’s today’s George Will, only no one gives a rat’s ass about George Will anymore. The people swayed by the conservative argument aren’t reading Buckshot, or Oakbeard or whomever. They’re listening to Limbaugh rant about gays, feminazis and the damn illegal immigrants who aren’t doing a good job mowing his lawn.

    So fine, the NYTimes replaced a clearly deranged conservative with a pompous twit. Tucker Carlson never did any damage to America (Stewart’s comment notwithstanding), except perhaps to his own reputation.

    It’s something I realized about all the "uber intellectual" conservatives (Sullivan too) recently – they’re about as influential as the polyamory lobby, only less connected to modern society.

    At this point the Times could probably salvage a better reputation by doing what DougJ says – fuck the faux balance and hire some actual liberals. Or if you can’t stand that idea, find a radical thinker like Radley Balko (whom I disagree with on a ton of issues, but can construct a sentence that doesn’t involve 11 subjunctive clauses and a reference to Pius XI). Conservatism is a complete failure in practice and a intellectually bankrupt movement in theory.

  84. 84
    kth says:

    77 has it about right. I’m fairly sanguine about the Douthat hire because he’s an immense improvement over Kristol. Of course the Times could have hired a hamster and the improvement would still have been substantial.

  85. 85
    Church Lady says:

    The reference to the "welfare duchess" made me curious, so I found the original blog post and read the article in the New Orleans paper it linked to. There’s a photo of the "welfare duchess" sitting next to a huge flat scree projection TV (has to be more than 50") in the nicely furnished living room of her rent-free (paid by voucher), recently renovated apartment. She was incensed about what seemed to be a few small problems with the apartment and more so that she is expected to pay a security deposit and for her utilities. The paper quoted her as saying "I might be poor but I don’t like to live poor. I thank God for a place to live but it’s pitiful what people give you."

    Perhaps Ross should be given a little slack for that crack. Her sense of entitlement was one to wonder at.

  86. 86
    jcricket says:

    Of course the Times could have hired a hamster and the improvement would still have been substantial.

    Hiring "Rat" from "Pearls Before Swine" would have been an improvement.

  87. 87
    skippy says:

    obama issued his 18th executive order on march 11th, establishing the white house council on women and girls, committing his treasury secretary, who has no staff, in the middle of an economic collapse, to a series of regular meetings.

    council on women and girls? when i hear the phrase "women and girls" i can only think about one thing.

  88. 88
    whiskey says:

    more like Ross Douthat He Knows What He’s Talking About am i rite

  89. 89
    Funkhauser says:

    Look, Douthat and Ambinder were classmates at Harvard. They know each other; they move in the same circle. Ambinder thinks Mark Halperin is a journalistic role model. They’re both circle-jerking frauds.

    Why one would quote Ambinder on anything is a mystery.

  90. 90
    Surabaya Stew says:

    @Comrade Darkness

    Now that you mention it, I do recall the NYT shilling for Lieberman on a large scale; but after years of half-baked Tom Friedman writing his next book page by page on the Op-Ed section, my mind had forgotten how to pay attention to what was really going on. (I had stopped paying for the Times after 9/11, but the daily thrill of finding the paper every day on New Jersey Transit kept drawing me back into the Grey Lady’s embrace.) Now that my job in New Jersey is toast, so is the Times to me (except for the sunday edition).

  91. 91
    Brandon T says:

    Look, Douthat and Ambinder were classmates at Harvard. They know each other; they move in the same circle. Ambinder thinks Mark Halperin is a journalistic role model. They’re both circle-jerking frauds.

    Don’t forget Yglesias, too (Harvard ’03). When you think about the fact that Yglesias, Ambinder, and Douthat were all working for the Atlantic at the same time–guess that tells you the sort of publication the Atlantic is :-P

    Not to say I don’t like Yglesias, but the elitism is a little ridiculous.

  92. 92
    burnspbesq says:

    And now the true reason why Larison didn’t get the job emerges.

    He’s a Chris Cornell fan.

    http://www.amconmag.com/lariso.....fferent-2/

    No one who thinks that anything of value ever came from anywhere west of the Hudson can ever work at the Times.

  93. 93
    oh really says:

    Apparently, the New York Times was not aware that Jonathon Krohn was available. A 14-year-old boy would provide the perfect balance for MoDo.

  94. 94

    I’m surprised at the reaction to this. It was a given that the Times would hire someone on the right to replace Kristol. Given the state of "conservative" opinion these days, particularly among the over-30 party hacks who have staked their careers on rubber-stamping whatever marching orders Limbaugh and Rove send out and calling it their own opinion, there wasn’t much choice.

    Douthat’s one of the few writers on the right whose pieces show evidence of thought, who betrays some evidence that he has actually read someone on the other side of an issue and considered the possibility that he wasn’t right about it, and his quirky pop-culture tastes humanize him the same way that Jonah Goldberg’s don’t.

    He (slowly) backed off of his Palin love when it became clear she was a shill and a moron (something he, along with the rest of us, couldn’t have known before she took the national stage), which is more than one can say for almost everyone else who claims to make the conservative case.

    An Op-Ed page is supposed to be a place where ideas are argued intelligently. I disagree with most of what he believes, but he argues well, and isn’t prone to making things up when he needs evidence to make his point (Will) or ignoring the need for evidence altogether (Kristol).

    I’m looking forward to having a reason to read a conservative NYT columnist again.

  95. 95
    DougJ says:

    An Op-Ed page is supposed to be a place where ideas are argued intelligently. I disagree with most of what he believes, but he argues well, and isn’t prone to making things up when he needs evidence to make his point (Will) or ignoring the need for evidence altogether (Kristol).

    Heh.

  96. 96
    bago says:

    I think it is a moral imperitave to convince young women to swallow their pride and sleep with the most religious and idealogical young men they can find. Convince them that it is ok to like different kinds of people, and completely undercut the tribalistic arguments they cleave to. Anyone who can hate an ethnicity after getting a blowjob from them is beyond salvation.

  97. 97
    bago says:

    Does the previous comment make me sound like a perv? Perhaps.
    Does it imply that many impulses an individual might have are strongly influenced by sex? Yes.
    Does it imply that the philosophy of conservatism relies on a darwinian lust for sex that is the only reason we are alive today? Well, ask yourself about that one after you pay your child support.

  98. 98
    Paul Crowley says:

    hypothetically, even if the fifty best political writers were all flaming liberals (maybe not so hypothetical, but roll with me here), the times really ought to have at least some representation of conservative viewpoints.

    This is the heart of the error. Why is this so? The NYT don’t have a regular creationist on their science pages, and their health coverage makes no mention of leeches. If all the conservatives who can think straight voted Democratic in November, what better sign that it’s time conservatism was put out to pasture?

  99. 99
    Mo MoDo says:

    The Gray Lady replaced one Harvard wingnut with another? Really edgy there. I’m not sure they’re all that different.

  100. 100
    TD says:

    "son of sam. here’s a serial killer who didn’t eat his victims after he killed them. seriously, this is a step in the right direction. stop kvetching"

    Wow…comparing Ross Douthat with Son of Sam, and differing opinions with serial murders…

    I do see wingnut…and it’s not from the Atlantic.

  101. 101
    Doug says:

    "if we do not criticize Marc Ambinder for saying this"

    Damn Marc Ambinder! Damn everyone that won’t damn Marc Ambinder! Damn every one that won’t put lights in his window and sit up all night damning Marc Ambinder!

    Will that do?

  102. 102
    ksmiami says:

    Schrodinger’s cat says:

    I think I said this on an earlier thread, I find Douthat’s writing boring, moralistic and preachy. Hell, many people who write in the comments section of this blog have more original and interesting things to say than Douthat.

    I totally totally agree with this sentiment esp when he starts up about abortion rights… Who the hell do these guys think they are?

  103. 103
    IM says:

    Larison would have been a splendid idea. I c an imagine his first three columns:

    1. The right to secede: In defense of the confederacy

    2. Hereditary right righted: In defense of the Stuarts

    3. A dissent from dissenters : the orthodox church as the one true church

    He wouldn’t last three columns.

    Look I’m quite the Larison fan too and he is honest and intelligent and a good writer. But he is also an arch-reactionary, the last Jacobite and to the right
    of Metternich.

    As he himself remarked, he hardly represents modern american conservatism.

    And Douthat is better than McArdle or (shudder) Goldberg.

  104. 104
    Andrew says:

    can construct a sentence that doesn’t involve 11 subjunctive clauses and a reference to Pius XI

    jcricket wins this thread

  105. 105
    Barbar says:

    Hmm, no one seems to remember what originally brought Douthat to fame, the book he wrote when he was 22 about how Harvard simply didn’t provide a rigorous education nowadays.

    I can see why someone who cared deeply about rigorous thinking would go into political punditry right out of college.

  106. 106
    nicteis says:

    Seems to me Douthat’s quote is perfectly reasonable, within any cultural conservative’s lights. Until he gets to that last sentence, which is seriously whacked, even from a cc point of view.

    He’s merely making the unexceptional point that, once an election gets down to a binary choice, you have to prioritize and pick the one who violates the less important among your preferred values. But then:

    " Regretting the passing of a particular moral standard does not require one to always vote as if that standard were still in place."

    A moral standard hasn’t "passed" simply because some twerp or other violates it. The only sense I can parse out of that odd sentence is that Douthat believes Vitter was the final, upstanding embodiment of family values, and that if even that great saint failed to keep out of the diaper bin at the brothel, there’s no point in keeping up the pretense that any virtuous men (and a fortiori, one presumes, any virtuous women) remain.

  107. 107
    chrome agnomen says:

    if guys like kristol, douthat, brooks, et al, didn’t exist, we would have to invent them to keep these steady, humorous, (in a black way), threads going on balloon juice and elsewhere. yeah, they are in large part morons, but morons we know.
    larison would have been good; he is good enough that he makes me question my positions. he doesn’t change my mind in any significant way, but he raises my game. this is good for me, but i think would be too far beyond what the mainstream nyt op/ed page reader could easily digest. and papers are in enough trouble as it is without becoming less accessible to the masses. kristol was understandable, in the no big ideas kind of way, but too error ridden. although that hasn’t led the times to can modo, bobo, or the FU.

  108. 108
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Church Lady babbles: "The reference to the "welfare duchess" made me curious, so I found the original blog post and read the article in the New Orleans paper it linked to. There’s a photo of the "welfare duchess" sitting next to a huge flat scree projection TV (has to be more than 50") in the nicely furnished living room of her rent-free (paid by voucher), recently renovated apartment."

    Horseshit. It’s not a "flat screen projection TV," it’s an old-fashioned big-ass floor-standing TV. And when Douchehat wrote the article I went on Craigslist for New Orleans and you could buy a TV like that for $150. So jam it in your Old Testament, Church Lady. You probably think all poor people should be restricted to owning buybulls and radios that can only tune in to Xian programming.

  109. 109

    […] Update:  But on the other hand, here’s Dougj from Balloon Juice who ain’t agreeing Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Fred Hiatt – today’s arseShut The F**k Up Award: Ross Douthat, The Atlantic Monthly for Michelle Oba…Post-Election ReadingAmen! Over at the Atlantic, Ross Douthat was disc… […]

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  1. […] Update:  But on the other hand, here’s Dougj from Balloon Juice who ain’t agreeing Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Fred Hiatt – today’s arseShut The F**k Up Award: Ross Douthat, The Atlantic Monthly for Michelle Oba…Post-Election ReadingAmen! Over at the Atlantic, Ross Douthat was disc… […]

  2. […] Chortle 2009 March 11 by Joe Tobacco I like this from DougJ: […]

  3. […] that turd Kristol.   I’d have preferred Daniel Larison myself but as DFS at Balloon Juice said: Anybody who thought they would seriously consider Larison is delusional. He writes about seventeen […]

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