The conservative blogosphere is on fire today. The spark was James Lilek’s announcement on his blog this morning that the new owners of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune are killing his column and reassigning him to cover hard news.
On my other blog, I have repeatedly referred to Lileks as “one of the most gifted writers in America.” I really think he is. And his daily blog, “The Bleat” is one of the oldest, most widely read, and influential in existence. James Lileks, dashing off a few thoughts about puttering around his house, is reliably better than 99% of the Pulitzer prize winners who pull down big salaries for the big city dailies.
But those big name columnists are uniformly liberal. And Lileks is a conservative, you see. Not an angry conservative mind you. In fact, James’ writing is consistently characterized by good humor, wit, and loads of self-deprecation. Which has earned him the respect and admiration of many prominent left-of-center folks as well—including many liberal readers of the very-liberal Star-
For many of us who write for a living, James is discouragingly good.
So, just how outrageous and stupid is this move?
Today, columnist Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) blogged: “This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwayne Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats.”
Hugh Hewitt described it this way: “Imagine The New Yorker asking E.B. White to manage the restaurant listings. Envision the Los Angeles Times dropping Jim Murrayfrom Sports and sending him to cover county government. Think about the San Francisco Chronicleassigning Herb Caen to the police blotter. It is that level stupid.”
A sampling of other reactions:
American Thinker — “Death wish at the Star-Tribune”
Powerline — “Big Bang at the Star Tribune”
Captains Quarters — “Strib Manages to Make It Worse”
Vodkapundit — “Stupid, Stupid, Newspaper Creatures“
There are scores and scores more, but you get the idea.
Here’s the bright side. James can and will do a lot better than his old gig. His often very personal blog posts reveal him to be a guy who likes routine, avoids change, values safety and eschews risk. He’s a genius. But like a lot of geniuses, he is mildly neurotic. And his neuroses seem to be those that would tend to keep him anchored in a place that is way beneath his talents.
Thus, a truly idiotic move that will probably hasten the demise of a paper which deserves it’s impending rendezvous with Darwinism, will at the same time serve to blast James out of his nest and force an embrace of the pain of change. [End of amatuer psychoanalysis session.]
Lileks seemed to hint at this very thing in his post this morning. He wrote:
“To quote Dave Bowman in “2010”: something is going to happen. Something wonderful.
That was before Jupiter became a new sun. Yes, I plan on collapsing into a giant ball of flaming gas. It’s worked for me before. “
All the best to you, James. Flame on!