Extra Points For Style
T.A. Frank has an article at the Washington Monthly pondering why so few people read Bob Herbert's columns relative to those of his NYT colleagues. Full-disclosure: I don't read Herbert myself, mostly because I haven't read any NYT columns since the advent of the recently departed Times Select, except for what gets excerpted at various blogs I read, which never seems to include Herbert.
Frank doesn't come to any firm conclusions himself. Jonathan Zasloff offers a sadly compelling way of untangling this Gordian knot:
Bob Herbert is an African-American journalist who writes about issues of poverty and race.Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan, speaking for himself, defends serially ignoring Herbert thusly:
[O]nce I know the topic of a Herbert column, I can predict every single self-satisfied, self-righteous platitude that is about to come.Now, that may be true for all I know, not having nearly enough exposure to Herbert to come to any judgment, but let's consider just what flaws Sullivan is alleging. Herbert is self-satisfied, self-righteous and platitudinous. These qualities, of course, set Herbert apart from wordsmiths like William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, the various Kagans and Podhoretzi, all of whom would gladly commit ritual mass suicide rather than let a self-righteous note sound from their trombone-like voiceboxes. Would David Brooks or Maureen Dowd let a cliche or platitude pass their lips? Fie on't.