I think my favorite part is "like all things spanish, it is dangerous
I had an email back-and-forth with Don Luskin of Poorandstupid.com
. Don basically has appointed himself the man to correct Paul Krugman's columns in the NY Times. Very often, Don is exactly on the mark with his criticisms. Sometimes he is not (this is one of those times). Krugman wrote a column that touched on Wolf Blitzer repeating White House character assassinations of Richard Clarke. According to Paul, Wolf was out of line, according to Don, Paul smeared Wolf. Here's the key quote from Wolf, talking to another reporter: "What administration officials have been saying since the weekend, basically, that Richard Clarke from their vantage point was a disgruntled former government official, angry because he didn't get a certain promotion. He's got a hot new book out now that he wants to promote. He wants to make a few bucks, and that his own personal life, they're also suggesting there are some weird aspects in his life. Is that the sense that you're getting, speaking to a wide range of officials?"
Now here's my email to Don:
Re: your post on Krugman's odd column (http://poorandstupid.com/2004_04_04_chronArchive.asp#108114883336357797), in some ways you are right, but I must point out a error/misunderstanding. Krugman's swipe at Blitzer is more or less justified, and hopefully I can make it clear it to you why. If we change his quote a bit I think it becomes apparent what the problem is, whether or not it was intentional (I'm inclined to believe it was unintentional, but I can't say for sure). "What administration officials have been saying since the weekend, basically, is that Richard Clarke beats his wife and kids. Is that the sense that you're getting, speaking to a wide range of officials?" Do you see what's happening here? Despite the luke warm denial of the accusation by the other reporter, Wolf has effectively smeared Clarke. Hopefully you won't act like a NY Times columnist and not correct yourself.
Here's his response:
No. not at all. Wolf isn't smearing anyone. He's pointing out that the White House is saying certain things - that's news - and asking a reporter for confirmation of whether that is even so in his opinion.
Here's my attempt to be generous by asking for clarification:
I'm not sure if I understand your position. Are you saying that my contrafactual doesn't demonstrate anything? Or that if it were the case it would be fine? Or are you ignoring it completely?
Here's his nonsensical response:
Your mock example is not true to the original. It changes things entirely. It makes an assertion. It is not the wind-up to a question, as the original is.
Here's my response:
Maybe I'm a bit slow, but I still don't understand your position. How is saying "Richard Clarke beats his wife and kids" an assertion and "Richard Clarke from their vantage point was a disgruntled former government official, angry because he didn't get a certain promotion. He's got a hot new book out now that he wants to promote. He wants to make a few bucks, and that his own personal life, they're also suggesting there are some weird aspects in his life" not? Dividing up the quote, the disgruntled/angry part and the hot new book/wants to make a few bucks part could be justified as questioning his motives for saying what he has. Whether or not they are accurate is another question, but they can be justified. How is making the assertion that "there are some weird aspects in his life" legitimate at all? What does that have to do with the situation in any way? If those unnamed aspects impact his reliability that much, he should have been fired as soon as Bush came into office.
As I indirectly suggested before, I doubt that Wolf had malicious intent, but the result is the same as if he did.
I've yet to get a response from Mr. Luskin, which prompted this email:
I have a few guesses as to why you have yet to respond:
-You're thinking about it, in which case a quick note would be appropriate
-You're too busy with other matters, see above
-You know I have you in a box and thus are going to ignore me, which would make you as bad as Krugman
-You don't regard me as worth your time and are ignoring me, possibly appropriate, but still a bit rude to not respond at least that you're moving on
I feel like I may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but I find his responses and non-response at the end pretty fucking hypocritical for the leader of "The Truth Squad." Am I out of line?