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Monday, December 22, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Bill Kristol’s column in today’s NYT (Popularity Isn’t Everything) is a rather anemic entry in the annals of punditry, especially from the pages of a major newspaper (indeed, it makes one long for the days when the NYT kept their columnists hidden behind the TimesSelect firewall).

For one thing, if we take the chunk of transcript from Cheney’s interview on FNS from Sunday and the lengthy quotation from Kipling, we find that 109 of Kristol’s 837 words (13%) aren’t his–and that doesn’t count the other quotes from Cheney and Blagojevich in the piece–indeed, easily a quarter of the piece is quotations (I guess the deadline was looming).1 Look, I am no columnist for a major paper, and only write on an irregular basis as it is, but having been in the position of promising 800-1000 words to an editor with the clock ticking, I am aware of the dynamics and this is pretty sad stuff. Beyond that, as one who has graded a lot of papers, I know padding when I see it.

Beyond the quote-fest, the column itself makes no sense. The Cheney bit is just weird, as it is semi-praise of virtues of the Veep telling a Senator to f-himself on the floor of the Senate:

No spin. No doubletalk. A cogent defense of his action — and one that shows a well-considered sense of justice. (“I thought he merited it.”) Indeed, if justice is seeking to give each his due, one might say that Dick Cheney aspires to being a just man. And a thoughtful one, because he knows that justice is sometimes too harsh, and should be tempered by civility.

Huh? Look, I always thought it was a tad silly for every to act so shocked that a politician might have used a profanity on the floor of the Senate, but to use the event as some sort of illustration of Cheney’s virtues? It is just plain odd, to say the least. From there the piece goes on to criticize Cheney for defending Rumsfeld and then takes a really weird turn to discuss Blagojevich. The overarching theme is “unpopular politicians” but what the point of the piece is is beyond me. I have been unimpressed with Kristol for some time, and thought it odd that we merited a place on the NYT op/ed page, but this one may take the cake in terms of drivel.

  1. Update: I was curious, and checked: 28.4% of the column was made up of quotations. []
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3 Responses to “Laziest Column in a Major Paper Ever?”

  1. Captain D Says:

    The NYT is a sinking ship. Their number of subscribers goes down every year (for the last 11 years). This year, for the first time in a great while, they also posted a huge loss in advertising revenue – down 22% over last year.

    The reason is simple. It’s a filthy commmunist rag, and people are getting wise. It deserves every torpedo that explodes against its hull.

    Probably it will get some bailout money, though, so it doesn’t sink – it’s far too liberal to be allowed to fail.

  2. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Kristol’s Year up? Says:

    [...] another regular conservative voice to it’s opinion page, I thought Kristol an odd choice (and I have noted, on occasion, that he isn’t as impressive as one might like). As an aside, this strikes me as [...]

  3. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Maybe Kristol Knows his Days are Numbered? Says:

    [...] there was what I termed the Laziest Column in a Major Paper Ever? and now today there’s this: George, Abe, Rick and Barack. The piece is just a pastiche of [...]


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