KRISTOL LEAVES THE TIMES…. At the end of an otherwise uninteresting New York Times column from Bill Kristol, there are six heartening words:

This is William Kristol’s last column.

There’s been some question as to whether Kristol’s one-year contract with the paper of record would get an extension, and today, we get our answer: he’s done. Whether the Times showed him the door or Kristol quit is unclear, but the result is the same.

It’s hard to overstate what an embarrassment this was from the start. Not only was Kristol’s writing pedestrian and predictable, but he had an unfortunate habit of making obvious factual mistakes, which necessitated frequent corrections. Indeed, at last count, Kristol prompted four corrections in one year — though, if you want to get picky about it, one of the four included two separate factual errors in the same column, which would bring the total to five.

And that’s just counting the demonstrable errors of fact. Errors of judgment were found in practically every piece.

Back in May, Glenn Greenwald had an item on the “sloppy, error-plagued and incomparably hackish columns” Kristol has produced. Regrettably, the next seven months worth of content was no better.

For reasons that have never made sense, the Times‘ publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., decided in late 2007 that it was time to add another Republican columnist to the paper’s op-ed page, and the decision early on was to find a “lightning-rod conservative.” But Kristol didn’t spend the year generating electricity, he spent a year embarrassing the nation’s most prestigious news outlet, wasting space on the most valuable media real estate in the country. His columns combined the three worst qualities a columnist can have: Kristol’s work was wrong, predictable, and boring.

A Times staffer said last year, “Having a robust conservative voice on the page is a good idea. But you want quality.” Instead, the paper wanted Kristol. That is, it used to want Kristol.

And so, the search is on for a new Times columnist. No matter who the paper chooses, he or she is bound to be an improvement.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.