For a column that’s critical of me, I don’t really disagree with much of what Katha Pollitt has to say about Ross Douthat. He’s a conservative. I am not a conservative. If I thought that conservative views were correct, I would be a conservative. But I think they’re wrong. Therefore, I think that conservatives such as Ross Douthat are regularly wrong about a wide variety of important topics. Thus, instances of them being wrong can be easily produced. I also am not a fan of the idea that institutions are under an obligation to be ideologically balanced. Conservative editorial pages normally contain zero progressive contributors, and there’s no particular reason that The New York Times op-ed page needs to have two conservatives.
That said, The New York Times clearly made the decision that it does want two writers from the right on its pages. Given that, I think Ross Douthat is one of the best possible candidates and certainly will be a marked improvement over Bill Kristol. I don’t think it makes sense to reason “all conservatives are wrong about important things, therefore all conservatives are equally pernicious.” Tyler Cowen on economics has a lot more to offer than Larry Kudlow on economics, even though I agree with neither of them. I think that’s common sense, and I don’t think it makes one a traitor to progressive politics to point this kind of thing out or to think it’s a good thing when conservatives-who-offer-more replace conservatives-who-offer-less.