Just as the Pulitzer Prizes come around every year, a conservative columnist comes around after them, dusting off the hard fact, as measured in an ever-expanding set of tally marks, that conservatives rarely get to pop a champagne cork over one of their own.
Take the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Since George F. Will won in 1977, William Safire (1978), Vermont Royster (1984), Charles Krauthammer (1987), Paul Gigot (2000), and Dorothy Rabinowitz (2001) have won as well, and good for them. But that's six conservative columnists in 33 years. This year's winner, Kathleen Parker, is sometimes seen as Rightish, but, with a penchant for smacking down social conservatives, she is perhaps too enlightened, Pulitzer-ainly speaking, to count. As Parker herself put it: "It's only because I'm a conservative-basher that I'm now recognized after 23 years of toiling in the fields, right?"
Hard to say. But it fits the Pulitzer pattern. The best to way to win a Pulitzer still seems to be by "pleasing liberals with stories that advance their agenda," as L. Brent Bozell III wrote in 2007. The chosen winners "demonstrate again the stranglehold that liberals and leftists enjoy when it comes to garnering recognition," as George Shadroui put it in Frontpagemag.com in 2004. It is "the main business of the Pulitzer committees to hand out the Prizes to other liberals, both in the press and in the arts," noted the New Criterion in 1992. And the conservative grumbling goes back farther than that.
With good reason. According to the conditions set by press baron Joseph Pulitzer himself when he created his eponymous awards a century ago, it turns out that we -- meaning we conservatives -- was (stet) robbed. That is, according to Pulitzer's intentions, these prizes should really be going to conservatives.
I stumbled onto this scoop quite by chance after first leafing through an old essay by the great American writer Kenneth Roberts, author of a remarkable series of historical novels including "Northwest Passage" and "Oliver Wiswell." Roberts was discussing what was already in the early 1930s an enduring mystery to him: why the Pulitzer Prize for novels (later fiction) was consistently awarded to books "that would have seriously affected Mr. Pulitzer's blood pressure if he were still alive."