While I appreciate Peter Lawler’s suggestion, I’m taking myself out of the running. The sight of me on the television screen does not go well with breakfast. Based on my Facebook feed, the two top candidates would be Mark Steyn and Ross Douthat. You would have something really great if you could splice them together and combine Steyn’s wicked sense of humor with Douthat’s project of a majoritarian and constructive conservative politics. Such a composite would resemble William F. Buckley a bit. I think that in the real world, Steyn would come across as a really funny guy who, while pointing out absurdities on the other side, didn’t offer an alternative to the liberalism of the other panelists. Some of the folks on my Facebook feed worry that Douthat would be too willing go along with the premises of the liberal panelists. I don’t get that impression from Douthat’s writing. Maybe he comes across that way when broadcast. I’ve seen him on several webcasts over the last five or so years, but I don’t have any strong memories of what he said.
I think that whoever ABC picks should be a journalist or wonk who is a policy generalist that takes policy seriously. That means someone who can talk monetary policy, tax policy, health care policy, etc. and has been doing their homework for a while. It should be a conservative who pitches their arguments to the persuadables in ABC’s audience, but is willing to throw some sharp elbows at the liberal panelists (both their presumptions and - if they deserve it - their persons). The Will replacement should be someone who is willing to constructively criticize the conservative side, but who has the sense to not let that criticism of fellow conservatives get in the way of presenting a conservative worldview. Given those priorities, I would rank the best contenders as:
1. Ramesh Ponnuru
2. Yuval Levin
I’ve been impressed by Jonah Goldberg in his appearances on Special Report with Bret Baier.