Pontifications

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New NYT op-ed columnist: Young, Catholic, and really smart

posted by David Gibson

Douthat.jpgHe’s Ross Douthat, erstwhile Atlantic editor and blogger and a serious upgrade from William Kristol, who started badly–not entirely unexpectedly–and went down from there during his year-long stint, which ended–not entirely unexpectedly–a couple months back.

I’d hoped that Douthat would get the nod–and obviously that went into Sulzberger’s decision-making process–despite the fact that he’s so bloody smart and so bloody young (29 years old):

Asked when The Times last had such a young columnist, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, said, “I don’t think ever.”

Douthat will also bring a Catholic sensibility on ethics and morals and social justice to the page, and of course a politically conservative disposition. Hey, he has time to learn–look how fast David Brooks is backpedaling under the onslaught of reality! And some question Brooks’ conservative bona fides anyway. Douthat may suffer similar slings and arrows, given some of the heterdox views  he and Reihan Salam wrote about in their book, “Grand New Party.” 

In his writings at The Atlantic, Douthat has often been brutally honest about the failings of the GOP in the last election, politically and ideologically.

Read Damon Linker’s welcome at TNR, in which Douthat’s frequent sparring partner opines:

Ross’s appointment represents a broadening of debate in the mainstream media. Unless I’m mistaken, he will be the first pro-lifer ever to write a column for what is still (by a wide margin) the premier daily newspaper in the United States. That he’s also a committed orthodox Catholic who enjoys (and excels at) defending his beliefs against critics both serious and silly is a real bonus. Too many pro-life and devoutly religious Americans fall into one of two camps: Either they lack the intellectual ability to engage in conversation and argument with the wider culture, or else they use their intellect to rally their own side for political battle, content to mock and dismiss those outside their ranks. Ross deftly avoids both vices in his writing — and American public life will be elevated because of it.    

And his colleague Marc Ambinder reminds us it’s pronounced dow-that — with a soft “th.” 

PS: Read George Packer’s post on Douthat at the New Yorker blog. Very good on Douthat, and the NYT op-ed page.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm


David,
I agree with you that Douthat looks very promising. I read his book on the GOP (the one he co-authored with Reihan Salam) and found it fascinating. Your fellow beliefnet blogger, Rod Dreher, has been very, very high on Douthat as far back as I can tell.
One disappointment — and this has absolutely NOTHING to do with this young and talented writer — is the way the New York Times introduced him to their readers. They made an effort — at least it seemed to me — to downplay his religiously orthodox worldview by attempting to describe his pro-life position as “squishy” and to suggest that his conservativism is NOT partisan. What’s wrong with being a partisan conservative?
After all, they don’t seem to mind that Gail Collins, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich are all partisan liberals, do they?
Let’s hope this young writer doesn’t get eventually co-opted and domesticated by these NY Times folks. I don’t care a bit for that bunch at the Old Gray Lady



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