Every so often someone confronts me with a painstakingly assembled list of what syndicated columnists we ran over, say, a two-month period, and along with a tally of how many were liberal and which conservative.
Always, the idea is to prove we are slanted either to the right or the left (though I have to say that the usual accusation is that we’ve got our thumb on the left hand side of the scale).
Our critics may not believe this, but we go to considerable length to provide a balanced menu of national commentary on these pages. If we list to port one day, we’re likely to be listing to starboard the next.
The disputes usually arise over definitions of liberal and conservative. Those really depends on where you stand on the political spectrum. Some very conservative readers, for example, took to classifying Kathleen Parker as a liberal after she challenged Sarah Palin’s presidential credentials.
We’ve now added an actual liberal, Froma Harrop, to our roster of columnists. She’s replacing Ellen Goodman, who unexpectedly retired late last year. We’ve followed Harrop’s work for a long time; she’s a good writer, a good thinker and she’s not entirely predictable. I like it when I have to read a column to find out where the columnist stands on a given issue, as opposed to knowing already that he or she is going to simply line up with the doctrinaire types. Parker’s doubts about Palin, for example, showed me that Parker does her own thinking.
Like her or hate her, and some of you are going to hate her, Harrop has now joined the club.