William Kristol’s one-year contract as an op-ed writer for the New York Times is coming up for renewal, and George Packer of the The New Yorker says it’s time for him to go.
The real grounds for firing Kristol are that he didn’t take his column seriously. In his year on the Op-Ed page, not one memorable sentence, not one provocative thought, not one valuable piece of information appeared under his name. The prose was so limp (“Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term?”) that you had the sense Kristol wrote his column during the commercial breaks of his gig on Fox News Sunday and gave it about the same amount of thought….
Kristol’s performance on the Op-Ed page during the most interesting election in a generation is a historical symptom, not merely a personal failure. He wrote badly because his world view had become problematic at best, untenable at worst, and he had spent too many years turning out Party propaganda to summon the intellectual resources that a difficult situation required. Now the Times owes it to its readers to find someone better.
I get the feeling the reason the editorial board of the Times chose him was to make him, in their eyes, the poster boy of conservative thought and in doing so, subtly mock the entire neo-con movement. But I also think that if they’re going to be serious about presenting another conservative voice to go along with the wistful musings of David Brooks, they could find someone who’s a good writer, interesting, and not as doctrinaire as Mr. Kristol. P.J. O’Rourke comes to mind.
To be honest, though, I would be sorry to see Mr. Kristol go if for only the reason that his columns are so easy to pick apart and mock that I look forward to Monday mornings when I can dissect them with glee. The blog posts practically write themselves.