Jack Shafer argues it should be no one. I always feel a bit behind when I read about the hubbub around Kristol and the Times columnist slot. On one level I understand why it's considered a plum job. If you want influence, who can beat the Times. But on another it seems like a nightmare for a writer actually concerned about his work. Putting out two or three columns a week, in a rigid format, where you're expected to represent a particular perspective must be incredibly stressful. What if you have nothing to say that week?
Yes, yes that was often the case with Kristol, but I don't think Kristol much cares about his career as writer. People should see his "journalism" the way they should see Karl Rove's "columns"--unserious missives issues by political actors looking to push their agenda. But for people who want to be serious about their writing, it seems you have to accept that something like a third of what you write every year will suck. That may be true anyway--but it's different reading something back later and thinking it sucked, and knowing, going in, that you have absolutely nothing to say, and are just filling column inches.
For writers, I think this is where the blog outshines the column form. It's much more organic, and allows the form to bend to the writer, as opposed to the writer bending to the form. If you have two words to say on a subject, you say two words. If you have 1,000 words to say on subject, you say 1,000. If someone else said it better than you, than you quote and link to them. And should it all fail you simply make a post arguing the Gza's supremecy over Raekwon. Or you have an open NFL thread Or you just talk about Warcraft. As, uhm, I'm about to do...
Can't do that at the New York Times!