Maybe it's asking a lot, but while I can agree that a newspaper like the Times should showcase a lively debate, it would make more sense if the people debating seemed like they were inhabiting the same universe together. The Rich/Safire divide is particularly stunning, because they couldn't be further apart.
From my standpoint, of course, Kristol and Safire are the sort of deluded asshats for which a special circle of Hell is reserved. Kristol seems only to be in the Times because it gives the Times a twofer -- they seem 'fair and balanced' while providing Kristol with a giant platform to shout to the skies what a fucking idiot he is. Safire is usually a more cogent thinker and writer, in that it's usually just Monday-Crossword hard to refute his political writing. Kristol is an embarrassment to conservatives everywhere -- he's not just wrong on the issues, he makes shit up and gets his facts wrong. It's as though the fact checkers at the Times don't even read his shit.