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The Douthat ascension

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 12, 2009 01:04 PM

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This is perhaps not the place for Times-gazing, but bloggers across the ideological spectrum are chattering about the paper's new op-Ed columnist: 29-year-old Ross Douthat. Youth aside, Douthat is notable for being the first person to rise from blogging to column-ing at an august paper.

Ross is a good writer, as goes almost without saying, but I find myself agreeing with Eyal Press at the Nation that it's not necessarily a good thing that he's an "unconventional" conservative -- one of the reasons Times editors say they hired him. (Even before the recession, Douthat was arguing that Republicans should pay more attention to social and economic inequality.) William Kristol may well have been too much of a Republican operative -- Kristol flamed out after a one-year run at the Times -- but he spoke for a recognizable subset of the conservative movement. It's not clear whom Douthat (or Brooks, the other Times conservative) speaks for. The pro-life, pro-government, anti-inequality portion of the conservative movement is not a substantial one; or maybe it was just quiet in the last election.

In the past, I've had the sense that Douthat sometimes soft-pedals his pro-life views -- this eruption excepted -- perhaps to maintain collegiality with his left-leaning blogging peers. I'd like to hear more from him about his preferred approach to rolling back laws and court decisions that permit abortion, and perhaps I will soon.

PS I see that this recent post is fairly robustly pro-life -- opposing stem-cell research and implying that he also stands against much of what goes on in fertility clinics (though the time isn't ripe, he says, to tackle the latter cause).

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2 comments so far...
  1. Could Douthat and Brooks speak for — gasp — moderate Republicans? "Sensible" people who detest "wishful thinking" and who accept a "fallen" view of human nature?

    Posted by R J Keefe March 13, 09 12:36 AM
  1. Regardless of whether the columnists speak for any particular (or even existing) constituency, The GOP Leadership and other more representative conservative interviewees are oftentimes questioned about issues raised by nominally conservative NYT OP-EDs.

    Posted by jhm March 13, 09 09:57 AM
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