Columnists Draft Guest Commentary
Outsourcing has struck again. Yes, the drafters were a bit too lazy to do commentary this time around and have found a much cheaper labor alternative in Bombay. Well, she may not come from Bombay, but she does like Bombay Saphire. When not writing about child pornography, this guest commenter (a scorpio) enjoys playing T-ball and grilling. I introduce to you the commentary of Miss Kate Blosveren, aspiring policy wonk.
Sarah's Draft: 1. Hendrik Hertzberg (New Yorker) 2. Michael Kinsley (Slate) 3. Judith Martin (Miss Manners) 4. Sebastian Mallaby (WP) 5. Nicholas Kristof (NYT) 6. Louis Menand (New Yorker) 7. Verlyn Klinkenborg (NYT) 8. Dahlia Lithwick (Slate)
Sarah certainly wins for having the most columnists that I did not know by name immediately, which is a dubious, yet inconsequential to the grading, honor. Not being a reader of the New Yorker, it is a bit of reach for me to come out in fully support of picking Hendrik Hertzberg first, but considering I know how much Sarah loves the New Yorker (as the sole New Yorker of the bunch), I have no problem saying that’s fine and moving on. Kinsley is a cool choice and as the founding editor of the awesomely amusing Slate, he certainly has my respect.
Miss Manners’ real name is Judith Martin. Well, you learn something new everyday. This is a pretty fun pick, even if her advice rarely informs my etiquette. She wins real points, however, for writing this bitchin’ review of Empire Strikes Back.
Sarah’s next two choices are a bit uninspired. Mallaby and Kristof are both good writers, but it seems to me that these picks are more representative of Sarah’s esteem the Post and the NY Times than for the columnists themselves. I don’t have much to say about Sarah’s choice of Menand beyond that, at this point, it’s just nice to see non-political columnists being chosen. Sarah finishes with Klinkenborg, whom I had never heard of before taking on this assignment (should I have?), and Dahlia Lithwick, whom I read regularly, making her Even Steven in my book.
Grade: B+. Sarah’s love of Slate won me over.
Chris' Draft: George F. Will (WP) 2. Paul Krugman (NYT) 3. Tony Kornheiser (WP) 4. William Safire (NYT) 5. EJ Dionne (WP) 6. Bob Novak (CST) 7. Maureen Dowd (NYT) 8. George Vecsey (NYT)
Now I must give Chris credit for bucking the trend, and drafting a conservative columnist first. While the rest of the gang went with more obvious choices for highly educated readers residing in Blue states and/or districts, George Will is a commendable and unique first selection - even though I always personally prefer the Newsweeks that feature Anna Quindlen on the last page.
I understand the allure of the NY Times op-ed page, but Paul Krugman is not someone I can get behind. He’s the kind of NY Times writer that gives liberals a bad name. He is a better choice than boring old Bob Herbert, but much weaker than the later picked Maureen Dowd and Nicholas Kristof.
Chris’s next three picks were all fairly solid, perhaps the highlight of his entire selection. Tony Kornheiser does his sports thing well and is a nice deviation from your first two choices. As an fan of good old etymology, I’ll give you credit for snagging Safire. Since I am a personal fan of all things E.J., that choice also gets you points from this commentator. However, from this point on, Chris’ draft becomes a bit weak and repetitive. Bob Novak, well, just imagine me doing a big old fake “HACK” sneeze right now. Dowd and Vescey are both good picks, on their own, but they represent your third and fourth NY Times columnists.
Grade: C+. While a lover of all things New York Times myself, it shouldn’t compose half of your picks. My advice: diversify.
Adam's Draft: 1. Thomas Friedman (NYT) 2. David Brooks (NYT) 3. Charles Krauthammer (WP) 4. Christopher Buckley (Forbes) 5. Peter Gammons (ESPN) 6. Carl Hiaasen (Miami Herald) 7. Mort Kondracke (Roll Call) 8. Lexington (Economist)
Thomas Friedman is the obvious first choice in a world where even five year olds talking about the flattening of the world, and arguably, the columnist that carries the most weight (to anyone not an economist). David Brooks as the second pick completes a strong one-two punch, gets Adam’s NY Times’ picks out of the way early, and makes room for a wide breadth of selections.
Although I’m no fan of neocons, Krauthammer is the self-appointed president of this gang (seriously, you should have seen him rough Bill Kristol up in that street fight, that was some crazy shit) and, according to a hyperlink on Wikipedia, is “Jewish,” which is an amusing use of technology.
Christopher Buckley? No, you must be mistaken and mean William Buckley, who’s dead and hasn’t written a column in some time. Wait, he has a son? Who is an editor of Forbes? Oh. That’s cool. Moving on: Peter Gammons. He’s no Bill Simmons, but an original pick that I can totally get behind. Carl Hiassen, well, I’d never heard of him and may never hear of him again, but he’s from Florida, which is nice for him, and he apparently writes about the environment, which is nice for all of us.
I’m all about Adam’s Kondracke pick, partially because he writes for a smaller niche newspaper – which is a nice change from the more mainstream sources otherwise represented – and partially because I really dig his writing. Adam rounds out his draft with the illusive Lexington of the Economist, which might go a further in my book if he was the sole Economist columnist selected, but still wins points for being something different.
Grade: A-. While there was a slight falter in the middle (again, Christopher Buckley? Really?), this is a commendable set of picks.
Sydney's Draft: 1. Frank Rich (NYT) 2. James Surowiecki (New Yorker) 3. David Broder (WP) 4. Alex Ross (New Yorker) 5. William Saletan (Slate) 6. Gene Weingarten (WP) 7. Tim Harford (FT) 8. Roger Ebert (CST)
Sydney starts with Frank Rich, who, while over the top sometimes, is an ace writer and a logical first pick. Surowiecki, well, I don’t know the guy, so I don’t have too much to say beyond that he does have a good resume, but his bio on Wikipedia is truly disappointing in comparison to other picks. I’m tempted to add something, maybe a Polish hyperlink. Is he even Polish?
David Broder, while not as bombastic as EJ, is arguably the best op-ed columnist at the Washington Post, so points to Sydney for that lucky pick. Again, Alex Ross means as much to me as Surowiecki, which isn’t that much, but whatever.
Sydney’s choice of William Saletan demonstrates her love of science and mockery, but is also one of the more creative picks across the board. While Gene Weingarten is clearly a poor man’s Dave Barry, in light of the predetermined rules of the draft barring Dave Barry from being chosen, his status is elevated from sloppy seconds to an acceptable substitute. Tim Hartford writes for the Financial Times, which I just learned today. That’s all I’ve got on him.
Sydney’s final choice of Roger Ebert is near fantabulous and is only weakened by Ebert’s overwhelming recognition for his television show rather than his column. However, I give the man respect for putting up with Roeper, a sad replacement for the late great Gene Siskel.
Grade: A. Syd’s draft includes political writers, music and film reviewers, a science critic, a satirist, and an economist who writes "Dear Economist". That’s a tight draft in my book.