The Washington Post launched a new blog today, Right Now: Inside the conservative movement and the Republican Party with David Weigel. I’ve been friends with Dave for more than 8 years, and since I’ve known him longer than most people in Washington I’m often asked some variation on the question What’s up with Weigel these days? Is he a liberal now?
The short answer is no; if I had to put a label on his views, I’d say he’s a left-libertarian (though I don’t think his ideological convictions are very deep, and they have a tendency to shift — he was much more conservative when I first met him than he is now). The thing to understand when reading his reporting, though, is that he’s sympathetic to most conservatives and libertarians but tends to strongly dislike both partisan Republicans and fringe types. Because he’s so snarky about, say, Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin or birth certificate conspiracy theorists, people often don’t realize that he really does like most of the people you’ll find at a Tea Party rally, and agrees with them on a lot of issues. When he was downsized from the Reason staff, it was really a stroke of genius on the part of the lefty editors at The Washington Independent to hire him to cover the right; no one is better-positioned to explain to liberals how libertarians and conservatives think in an intelligent and entertaining way. He built a following from basically nothing (TWI was a fairly new and obscure publication when he arrived), and the Post was very smart to hire him.
A lot of people have been wondering if WaPo will launch a similar blog covering the left. I’d love to see that — but will they be able to find a liberal who hates the Democrats and the far left to write it?