Thursday, January 10, 2008

Virginia Postrel shows Chris Masse and me how to disagree

with others without being disagreeable. She takes the following to task, yet remains ever sweet and seemly: Ron Paul, Reason Magazine, Andrew Sullivan AND Woodrow Wilson:
Rightly or wrongly, I didn't consider Paul "one of the biggest mainstream representatives of libertarian thought." I'm not sure whether I would have written about him if I had. Life is short, I don't make my living as a professional libertarian any more, and I don't feel responsible for commenting on every libertarian-related development that comes along. These days, I am more interested in understanding culture and economics than focusing on policy, much less policing the libertarian movement. Plus, as the Paulites will be quick to note, I disagree with Paul on his sexiest issue, the Iraq war (and on his second sexiest issue, opposition to immigration).

I do fault my friends at Reason, who are much cooler than I'll ever be and who, scornful of the earnestness that takes politics seriously, apparently didn't do their homework before embracing Paul as the latest indicator of libertarian cachet. For starters, they might have asked my old boss Bob Poole about Ron Paul; I remember a board member complaining about Paul's newsletters back in the early '90s. Besides, people as cosmopolitan as Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch should be able to detect something awry in Paul's populist appeals. (Note that by "cosmopolitan" I do not mean "Jewish." I mean cosmopolitan.) I suspect they did but decided it was more useful to spin things their way than to take Paul's record and ideas seriously. As for Andrew Sullivan, his political infatuations are not his strong point as a commentator.

Tim Cavanaugh has a smart take on the Paul controversy, made all the better by his swipe at Jim Crow-lover Woodrow Wilson. [Via Hit & Run.]


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