A very good friend of mine whose opinion I value very much called me up today to tell me he wasn't very impressed with today's article detailing Eric Dondero's prolific support for big-government liberals in the Republican Party, and noting the irony that Dondero accuses antiwar libertarians of being "leftists" who don't really care about liberty.
My friend had a big problem with my tone. He told me that I shouldn't sink to Dondero's level by name-calling and personally smearing him. I definitely took issue with his appraisal of my post as sinking to Dondero's level. What Dondero does, certainly is name calling. Without much substantive argument over the relationship between liberty and geopolitics, Dondero simply writes us off as "left libertarians," "leftists," and "anti-American." But I don't think I simply turned around and did the same back to him.
As one libertarian Facebook friend of mine pointed out... I actually gave Dondero a lot of exposure by writing the post. That I did. I linked to several of his posts, and quoted his own words. I let Mr. Dondero speak for himself, piling quote upon quote of his own words for you to read and links to the original articles for you to investigate yourself and get the full context if you wanted to. I'd love it if he did the same for me. I'd love for any blogger who is critical of my views to be so fair as to quote and link to me meticulously. I think there's a huge difference between dismissive name calling and smearing on the one hand, and quoting a person's actual words, referring my readers to their work, and giving my appraisal.
Dondero says: Wes is a leftist libertarian, anti-American, and a leftist lover. I on the other hand, said: Here is what Dondero has said himself in the past. Here is who he's endorsed. This is their record in government... and then I offer my conclusion on the basis of his own words and endorsements on his own website. I defended my article to my friend on this basis and argued that it was not at all "on the same level" as Dondero's rhetoric and that it's not name-calling either. I accurately reported his views using his own words to show that liberty is not at all his primary concern. I do this every week with other politicians and pundits.
My friend didn't like that the post was so personal, but I don't think it was personal and if I gave that impression, let me clarify that I didn't mean it personally. I am not trying to discredit Dondero as a person (whatever that would even mean), but I definitely am hoping to discredit him as a libertarian voice on news and politics just as I have used this blog to discredit Barack Obama as a Washington reformer and Herman Cain as a Tea Party candidate. Like Dondero, they are being disingenuous and good journalism requires reporting those inconsistencies to the public.
Now I did admit this to my friend and I will admit it to you. I certainly relished writing that post way too much... and it apparently showed... and I really shouldn't have enjoyed it so much. It's petty and small to enjoy someone else's incorrectness, hypocrisy, ignorance or even malevolence. And I do freely admit that I am sometimes, or perhaps even often, petty and small. The flesh is weak. I'll try to be better about it in the future. Thanks for bearing with me if you were put off as my friend was.
EDIT: My friend also said I missed a good opportunity to opine about the uselessness and confusion of labels like "left" and "right." He was correct.
Editor in Chief, THL
Articles | Author's Page