The NY Times has chosen their new columnist, and the lucky winner is libertarian gadfly John Tierney (who looks shockingly like Regis Philbin. I'm serious, go look). Via Julie Saltman, we've got Chris Mooney's extensive profile of the rhetorical agitator, and via Nexis, I've got a bunch of his columns from the past few years. If Mooney is to be believed, he's a fun-loving free-marketer who likes to inject himself into his pieces and use his experiences to tell a story. Kind of a Kristof without the humanitarianism, but with a whole lot more pranks. If the columns are to be believed, the guy's just kinda fluffy, with lots of multiple-choice tests and faux-awards ceremonies. Brooks on his intentionally funny days. All in all, not a particularly objectionable choice, but the Times probably could've found a more edifying voice to occupy the real estate.
Also, unlike Matt, I don't think blogs are supplanting the op-ed page. Blogs, at least in their general, constantly updated forms, do what bad op-ed writers do, mainly, offer dashed off thoughts on The World Today. Conversely, the folks many of us find the most useful, like Mark Schmitt, spend days working on their thoughts and emerge with pieces well worth the wait. Like good op-eds. Now, I think blogs demonstrate that many writers are failing at the op-ed format and we need people able to make 800 words interesting and intellectually challenging, but that's a different point altogether.
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(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)