Theoretically the New York Times’ new conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, is supposed to run Tuesdays, starting today. He doesn’t appear on today’s website, though. But if you search for his name, his debut column shows up — datelined yesterday. It didn’t run in yesterday’s print edition, however, nor does it appear in the Opinion section of yesterday’s web site.
So who the hell knows what’s going on? Anyway, here’s the link to that damned, elusive columnist. And below is a sample. The improvement over his predecessor, the hapless and clueless William Kristol, is already striking.
At the very least, a Cheney-Obama contest would have clarified conservatism’s present political predicament. In the wake of two straight drubbings at the polls, much of the American right has comforted itself with the idea that conservatives lost the country primarily because the Bush-era Republican Party spent too much money on social programs. And John McCain’s defeat has been taken as the vindication of this premise…
As a candidate, Cheney would have doubtless been as disciplined and ideologically consistent as McCain was feckless. In debates with Barack Obama, he would have been as cuttingly effective as he was in his encounters with Joe Lieberman and John Edwards in 2000 and 2004 respectively. And when he went down to a landslide loss, the conservative movement might — might! — have been jolted into the kind of rethinking that’s necessary if it hopes to regain power.