With Bill Kristol purged from The New York Times op-ed page, David Brooks is the only non-liberal voice regularly given the most precious real estate in newspapering. Brooks is a clever neoconservative but he doesn't fundamentally challenge the Times worldview represented most clearly by Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich.
Politico.com and others have been speculating on whether the Times might allow a tad more ideological diversity by adding a conservative or libertarian columnist in the tradition of William Safire or John Tierney. Politico has floated names such as former Bush speechwriter David Frum, the National Review's Byron York, The Atlantic magazine libertarian Megan McArdle, and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. The New Republic's short list included Charles Krauthammer and Max Boot.
If the Times wanted real intellectual diversity it would choose an evangelical columnist, but there's no indication of the Times' openness to anyone questioning its secular fundamentalism. In the absence of real alternatives at least we should have fun: I'd like the Times to hold American Idol-like tryouts during which contestants would read-better yet, croon-their columns to a panel of snickering judges.
How about Dowd as Paula, Rich as Dawg, and-of course-Krugman as Simon? Viewership might not go higher than C-SPAN levels, so don't expect the Times, which has mortgaged its building, to do anything beyond sticking to its knitting for a while. The mighty are falling fast, and journalists are already speculating about how much time the Times has before it goes bankrupt.