This fall, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. launched a search for a new conservative columnist. It had been nearly three years since William Safire had retired from his weekly column in 2005, and Sulzberger's initial replacement, libertarian John Tierney, lasted just 20 months before abandoning his column. David Brooks remained as the lone conservative voice on the page, and, say people familiar with the younger Sulzberger's thinking, he wanted to hire a lightning-rod conservative, much like his father, Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, had done in appointing Safire in 1973.
So, last fall, Sulzberger and Times editorial-page editor Andrew Rosenthal prepared a list of some 25 conservative writers. According to a person with knowledge of the search, the names included Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, The Atlantic's Ross Douthat, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Max Boot and three Weekly Standard staffers: senior editor Christopher Caldwell, associate editor Matthew Continetti, and the magazine's editor and founder, Bill Kristol. On December 30, Sulzberger selected Kristol, who gave up his column at Time magazine for the Times appointment.