In a comparatively rare feat, a conservative writer has won a Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award in journalism. Bret Stephens, who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal primarily about world affairs is the first conservative to win the award in more than a decade.
Congratulations are certainly in order to Stephens for pulling off the win, especially since the very liberal Columbia University is in charge of the award.
While Stephens’s views on some social issues like gay marriage have not won him fans among devout conservatives, he certainly deserves the award. I’ve long been a fan of his prose, his independence, and his willingness to take on the conventional wisdom on topics like global warming and the complete disaster otherwise known as the Republican presidential nominating process.
A January 2012 column on the latter topic helped contribute to his win. Entitled “The GOP Deserves to Lose,” Stephens eviscerated the GOP presidential candidates then in the race and then condemned Republicans like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Haley Barbour for refusing to run.
“This was the GOP A-Team, the guys who should have showed up to the first debate but didn’t because running for president is hard and the spouses were reluctant. Nothing commends them for it. If this election is as important as they all say it is, they had a duty to step up. Abraham Lincoln did not shy from the contest of 1860 because of Mary Todd. If Mr. Obama wins in November — or, rather, when he does — the failure will lie as heavily on their shoulders as it will with the nominee.”
Stephens is the first conservative to win the commentary award since his Journal colleague Dorothy Rabinowitz won it in 2001*. That year was a rare one in Pulitzer history as it marked the second consecutive year that a conservative had won the award, something which had not happened since the 1970s. In 2000, Paul Gigot, also with the Journal, won the prize.
In recent decades, the Journal has been the home to all of the few conservative writers who have been awarded a Pulitzer. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer was the last non-Journal conservative to win the award in 1987.
In less laudible Pulitzer news, the committee continued its tradition of ignoring conservative editorial cartoonists by honoring Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
* Note: I am not counting Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, the 2010 award winner, as a conservative. She is a right-leaning moderate.