Thursday, March 12, 2009


NYT hires Ross Douthat to replace Bill Kristol, which is an improvement in the same way that being punched repeatedly in the face is an improvement over being savaged by wild dogs.

Reactions from those of us who do not believe fertilized eggs are people or who are not part of the DC journalism mutual appreciation society are ... mixed. Many liberal males are happy because Douthat is a big-government advocate, and some conservatives are pleased that someone will finally give their retrograde social views a gloss of intellectual respectability via the Times. Libertarian women are, again, left screaming and shaking their fists impotently at the sky.

Matthew Yglesias called the hire "a very smart move," but my favorite reader sends an Yglesias quote and a question:
Obviously, insofar as Washington continually tilts toward one Pakistani party and against the other one, the leader of one party will become “a Western ally” and we’ll develop doubts about the priorities of the other guy. But I think Americans really ought to be asking ourselves about cause and effect here. As best I can tell, we’re substantially basing our Pakistan policy on the fact that Benazir Bhutto went to Harvard and befriended many important Americans while there.
Does he not see the connection to Douthat's promotion?
Perhaps the pithiest reaction comes from Radley Balko, who Twittered:
New NY Times non-lefty op-ed page covers spectrum from Brooks to Douthat! Like saying music taste ranges from Nickelback to Daughtry.
Someone once asked me why I don't like agreeing with Ross Douthat, even on something so simple as whether Crash sucks, and my answer remains the same.
I'd enumerate all the ways in which he's a symbol of the worst aspects of modern American journalism, the publishing industry, Ivy League privilege, conservatism and its attendant persecution complex, latent cultural misogyny, and pretentious jackassery, but that would mean I'd have to reread a lot of his blog to find citations for you, and I only manage to tolerate it in small doses. Most of his stuff would put me to sleep if it were not offensive both as prose and as politics.
I hesitate to call him a conscious misogynist, but he's anti-feminist in the extreme, and nearly every cultural tradition he vaunts would reduce female autonomy. Note his recent embrace of patriarchy (no joke!) as the solution to lower birth rates. His only objection to the author's thesis (which basically said cultures are doomed unless women get back in the kitchen, submit to their husbands, and make some babies) was that he wasn't sure that it would work, since kids don't always absorb their parents' belief systems.

The man's a menace.
I actually did make a brief and half-hearted effort to find citations to what I viewed as his more objectionable posts, but (conveniently) The American Scene archives prior to 2007 don't appear to support working links. Somebody at the Village Voice has links to some more recent posts. You can read an excerpt of Douthat's writing on birth control, with my comments, here. (Thanks to the Pandagon commentariat for bringing that post by Douthat on Andrew Sullivan's blog back to light.)

Reflecting on his prior writings does leave me with a few questions: Has Douthat put his money where his mouth is, i.e. sired at least one child by now? And does he believe in the existence of demons? And why couldn't the Times have hired Virginia Postrel?
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