The Limits Of Mickey

Yglesias vents: thing that drives me crazy is the idea that “x drives liberals crazy” is a form of praise for a conservative writer. If that’s what you’re looking for, you really can’t do better than Mickey Kaus. He’s not a genuine conservative, and he’s not that dedicated or reality-grounded but he is smart and precisely because he’s neither genuinely conservative nor dedicated he has both the skills and inclination to spend a lot of time pressing liberals’ buttons.

But the goal in finding a conservative writer should be to find a writer who’s not a liberal but who liberals enjoy reading. That doesn’t need to be columns that make liberals feel good about themselves (e.g., conservatives writing about how brain-dead the GOP is, etc.) but it needs to be columns that liberals find not maddening but challenging. When I read Tyler Cowen’s skeptical notes on the stimulus, for example, I don’t become infuriated, I become better-informed about the issue. At his best, this is what David Brooks contributes on that pagehe’s raised issues about public choice and so forth that liberals tend to neglect but that are genuinely important.