In his initial blog post yesterday afternoon on the announcement of this year's Pulitzer Prizes, Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times referred to the winner in the commentary category, Kathleen Parker, as "a conservative political columnist." By the time the news was edited for the print edition of the newspaper, Ms. Parker was simply "a political columnist."
Just how conservative is Ms. Parker? I don't read her regularly, so I spent some time this morning having a look at her prize-winning columns.
Exhibit A: "Whatever Voinovich's sound effects were intended to convey, his meaning was clear enough: Those ignorant, right-wing, Bible-thumping rednecks are ruining the party.
Alas, Voinovich was not entirely wrong."
Exhibit B: "Yes, I know, shocking. Another Republican affair. Next thing you know, we'll learn that a Democrat hasn't paid his taxes. There does seem to be a pattern of failure in those matters about which people purport to care most.
If we were feeling charitable, we might say something about man's fallen nature and his attempt to repair himself through public works. Thus, Republicans touting family values can't seem to stay zipped."
Exhibit C: "As a Latina from a Bronx housing project reared by a single mother, Sotomayor knows things the other justices on the Supreme Court can't possibly know."
Exhibit D: "Though the Oslo speech follows others that have inspired even his critics, this was Obama's most presidential. It marked the moment when Obama became a leader, defined as an individual who chooses the hard road because he believes it is the right one....There is much about Obama's administration to criticize. But at certain moments, the president articulates our problems in ways that elevate us beyond our pettier differences."
The columns are well-crafted and for all I know Pulitzer-worthy. Some seem conservative by the standard of a liberal newspaper editor, if not by the standard of a conservative political activist. Sometimes conservatism is in the eye of the beholder, and it is better to omit the general description and instead offer specific examples of a person's positions or views. I think the Times was correct to cut the word "conservative" from the story that appeared in the print edition of the newspaper.