When we were first creating the Political Animal blog on this site a decade ago, my first choice to fill it was the only blogger I personally knew, someone who was then a staff writer for the magazine—the amazing Josh Marshall. But Josh had already started Talking Points Memo and thought he could make a go of it (good call). As an alternative Josh suggested a blogger I hadn’t heard of, Kevin Drum. One look at Kevin’s site, CalPundit, convinced me Josh was right.
Kevin was an instant hit. He became an integral part of the magazine, and he and I became friends. But alas, all good things come to an end; one day a few years ago, he told me had received an offer he couldn’t refuse from Mother Jones. I panicked. He was the tent pole holding up our whole website; I could never replace him, I thought. But Kevin suggested another writer who had guest blogged on Political Animal, Steve Benen. That made great sense to me. But still, I wondered, could anyone fill Kevin’s shoes?
Steve, of course, did, brilliantly. In fact, he took the blog in wonderful directions I’d never imagined. As with Kevin, he became part of the Monthly family and a personal friend.
Then, a few weeks ago, Steve let me know that Rachel Maddow at MSNBC had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
My first reaction, also expressed by a commenter, was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
But I tried to comfort myself with the thought that Steve is just following in the tracks of so many others who have worked at the Washington Monthly and then gone on to great careers in the major media (James Fallows, Jonathan Alter, etc).
It’s hard for me to fully express how proud and grateful I am to have had Steve in the Political Animal slot these last three-and-a-half years. In addition to his amazing talent, his industriousness, his keen and wise political and policy insights, and his dead-on news instincts, he’s a pleasure to work with. In Sunday’s New York Times, a reviewer of the new biography of Dave Grohl dubbed the Foo Fighters frontman “the nicest man in rock.” Well, Steve Benen is the nicest guy in the blogosphere. I am going to miss him terribly.
But what all of you are probably wondering is who will next have the wheel of Political Animal—the person with whom, if you’re like me, you will begin and end your workday, and whose reporting and analysis will keep you going during the hours in between. It’s my pleasure to report that that person will be Ed Kilgore, another longtime friend of the magazine. If you’re a reader of the magazine, especially our book reviews, you’ll know Ed’s work (see here and here). And if you were coming to the site in mid-December, you’ll know his blogging. Ed is a brilliant observer of Washington and the broader political scene, a fast and graceful writer, and like Kevin and Steve, a hell of a nice guy. Welcome aboard, Ed; we’re proud to have you.