Three weeks have passed and—like some tiny tortoise emerging from its egg and making its way to the water it so desperately needs to survive [Note: We are not exactly sure if this is a tortoise, it could be some other animal, like probably a turtle?]—Keach Hagey's Press Clips column continues to, if not exactly thrive, survive. Once again, we'll take a close look at the column and offer our critique.

This week's column, we are happy to report, shows definite improvement. The first two paragraphs actually remind us of something we'd glance over with only mild disinterest in the Observer. Keach attends a Giuliani fundraiser at the Sheraton. How does she set the scene?

Poor David Brooks. By all rights, the moment should have been his. It was last Wednesday night, the first big hometown fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani, and the Sheraton New York ballroom was resplendent in faux-folksy glory. A thousand Republicans had come to toast (and fund) the candidate whom the New York Times columnist has compared to Teddy Roosevelt, lauded as a "courage politician," and crowned with his very own "ism."

Women in pearls tipped back longnecks of Bud and men in crisp suits munched Cracker Jack and hot dogs, the ballpark fare serving as props for the baseball-themed, $2,300-a-head event. The urban elite was trying its best to look all-American. If they were not quite pulling it off, they were at least epitomizing the pragmatic, purple-tinted brand of Republicanism that Brooks fantasizes about in his columns.

So far, so good, right? Unfortunately, that's when the drift sets in. While it should have been Brooks' moment "by all rights," it's fellow Timesman Nick Kristoff who gets a shout-out from the cousin-cuddling former mayor. (We're not even sure if Brooks was in the room, since the piece does not indicate one way or the other; we're kind of hoping he was, because otherwise it's an extremely tenuous hook upon which to hang a story). The duration of the column goes on to express amazement that Rudolph Giuliani might - in a room full of New York Republicans! - express some agreement with a columnist who has advocated a slightly more forceful policy against genocide than the one currently being followed by the - extremely popular - Bush administration. The idea! It's almost like Giuliani was trying to make himself look centrist! And statesman-like! And just a little bit of a maverick!

Again, we loved the establishing arc here. The rest of the piece, and the topic selection as a whole? The mehest bit of mehishness we've seen so far. Which still makes it Keach's best column to date. But the question remains: Who's the real Keach? The dry, shocked, shocked lefty-type who symbolizes the calcification of the Voice over the last ten years, or the bourbon-drinking socialist in the tight skirt? Because, honestly, we'd be more than happy to read a column by the second one.
RATING: Drink more. Bore less.

The Times' Nicholas Kristof—A Rudy Giuliani White House Adviser? [VV]
Previously: Grading Keach Hagey: Her Second Column!
Grading Keach Hagey: Her First Column!