So it seems that the New York Times has indeed found its conservative replacement for Bill Kristol: Ross Douthat, of the Atlantic.
This had been rumored previously, although most were skeptical because Ross is so young — he’s still in his twenties. But now it is happening.
Certain AmSpec contributors have voiced criticism of Douthat’s brand of reform conservatism in the past. In specific the knock on him is that he doesn’t have a sufficient appreciation for limited government.
Whether or not that’s the case, I am personally glad to see Douthat end up at the Times. First, a real alternative was for Kristol to be replaced by no one. A conservative a little squishy on limited government is better than no conservative voice at all (unless you count David Brooks). Second, I suspect that Douthat is more conservative than his Atlantic record would indicate. Any good writer knows his audience, and his audience at the Atlantic was liberal. He was was accordingly willing at least to entertain liberal ideas. If that’s the case, he will continue to do so at the Times.
Third, even if his conclusions do not reflect principles that conservatives in general would like to see advanced, there is no doubt that Douthat has as intellectually deep an understanding of conservative thought as anyone. At a time when conservatism is widely mocked as being headed by Limbaugh and Joe the Plumber, it is at least useful to have someone eminently fair-minded and respectable in a highly visible venue.