One thousand, two hundred and fifty columns later, my poker buddy Marc Fisher is giving up writing, temporarily, I hope, for a grown-up job. He'll be trying to help The Washington Post figure out ways to tell stories so compelling that people will actually pay money to read them. But his column will be missed. In his last column, he writes about his historic encounter with one of the Post's legends:

On the first day I was given this space to play with, the great columnist Mary McGrory summoned me to her office with a note: "Come see me. I have three words for you."

I scurried over and presented myself. Mary looked up from her desk and said, "Three words: Cruelty is important." To do this job right, you must name and blame the bad guys. You must call it as it is. The minute you hold back, your credibility is shot. The second you stop reporting, you're just one more pontificating, pusillanimous pundit." (When my friend and colleague Marjorie Williams launched her column, she, too, received the gift of three words from Mary: "Subtlety is overrated.")

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to