Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Sure, If By "Civil Discourse" You Mean "Time To Act Like A Jackass"

Having done something foolish, it is of course completely understandable to duck one's head and scurry along, hoping that no one will notice.

When that "something," however, turns out to be falsely accusing a widely-read columnist of lying and plagiarizing, reasonable people usually expect a bit more; perhaps an apology, or, at the very least, an admission of error.

Being a liberal, and therefore constitutionally incapable of behaving in a civil manner, I say those reasonable people can suck it.

I, for one, am proud to stand up and declare my admiration for Steve Antler, the EconoPundit, for doing the liberal thing and resolutely refusing to admit that his attack on William Safire was based on a mistake.

That's liberalism in a nutshell: use false evidence, level serious charges against your opponents, and under no circumstance back down - especially if that circumstance involves proof that you are full of shit.

I mean, you know, except for the fact that Antler is a Republican, and the subject of his attack was Paul Krugman.


Antler writes a post showing three quotes, one from Paul Krugman, one from President Bush, and one from Self Made Pundit.

Quote 1- The Krugman quote is from Krugman's NY Times column about Right-wing incivility, in which Krugman quotes the President:
"Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper."
Quote 2- The Bush quote is from an address the President gave on July 30 of this year. It is similar, but not identical to the one Krugman cites:
"Someone said, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper in order for the rebound to be quicker. "
Quote 3- The Self Made Pundit quote is from a post back in August about Bush's economic policy, discussing a quote by Bush that is similar, but not identical to the one Krugman cites:
"Some would probably say, well, maybe you shouldn't have acted and let the recession go deeper, which would have made -- may have made -- for a more speedy recovery"
[emphasis added]

On the basis of these three quotes, Antler concludes that Krugman "(a) truncated and changed the meaning of the Bush quote, (b) cribbed his argument from an unattributed source."

"What the fuck?" you might be asking yourself.

Simple - Antler's rebuttal of Krugman's thesis (Right-wing incivility) hinges upon the difference between "some" and "someone." If Bush said "some", then it can reasonably be construed as an accusation that people who disagree with him want the economy to do poorly -- which would corroborate Krugman's point. If Bush said "someone", then he was referring to a specific person, not his opponents in general -- which, while not disproving Krugman's point, does not prove it either.

So Antler did some digging, and came up with Quote 2, which would seem to prove that Krugman changed Bush's words. Immediately overwhelmed by that peculiar rush one gets upon discovering a way to hurt an enemy, Antler lets fly with his first charge:


Unsatisfied with his first salvo, Antler does some more digging, and comes up with Quote 3, which uses the word "some", just like Krugman! But, wait, SMP's post was written before Krugman's column! Which means that Krugman must have gotten the idea to use the word "some" from Self Made Pundit!


Unfortunately for Antler, before he even has a chance to bask in his own triumph, his post is linked to approvingly by Donald Luskin - and a more certain sign that he is WRONG WRONG WRONG I cannot imagine.

As with all tragic figures, Antler's flaw was innate. His excitement at the prospect of being the Man Who Took Down Krugman drowned out the voices of his better angels, and he did not continue his search for Bush quotes similar to the one cited by Krugman. If he had, he would have discovered that, rather than butchering, making up, or stealing a Bush quote, Krugman copied it, word for word, from the White House's own transcript of Bush's Labor Day address.

It is easy to imagine Antler's humiliation upon learning of his mistake (I like to think that it was pointed out to him in an email that included words like "bullshit", "jerkoff", and "bollocks"). In the past, I too have been proven wrong after making a very public ass of myself.

That is why I admire the way in which Antler chose to address his error: grudgingly acknowledge undeniable evidence, but ignore the fact that it blows your point out of the water.

In what had to be an excruciatingly painful update to the post entitled "Krugman Cribs and Dowdifies", Antler posts a link to the Labor Day speech.

Honorable of him, that.

He then explains why Bush actually meant something else -- he was confused! -- and tells us that we should feel bad for the "poor guy." He also tells us that Self Made Pundit, whose post is completely unrelated to Krugman's column, is a smug idiot.

And that, as they say, is that.

I don't know about anyone else, but I say three cheers for Steve Antler's integrity!

Fantastic job, falsely accusing someone you disagree with of serious ethical breaches!

Hip hip, hooray!

Marvelous work, disdaining silly things like "retractions" and "apologies" when proven absolutely dead wrong!

Hip hip, hooray!

Outstanding contribution to the civil discourse of this country that us liberals are hellbent on destroying!

Hip hip, hooray!

1 comment:

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