How pleasant it is when friends come from afar!

A side-benefit of the Republican primaries; I’m finding points of agreement with Red bloggers.

I regard reading most Red blogs (with such key exceptions as some of the Volokh Conspirators or Megan McArdle or Reihan Salam) as unpleasant but necessary work, like cleaning septic fields. Most of the Red bloggers I used to admire and learn from switched teams during the Reign of Error.

But right now I’m enjoying the chore, and finding much to agree with. When Riehl World View describes Romney as having “gone from unlikeable to detestable,” I can only nod, and admire the fine turn of phrase. And when he threatens that he and his fellow wing-nuts will take their ball and go home if Romney is nominated, I can only smile. On the other hand, could there be a more accurate description of Newt Gingrich than Peggy Noonan’s “angry little attack muffin”?

Footnote The headline is from an old translation of the Confucian Analects, Book I, section 1. It might seem to refer only to the pleasure of a visit from a friend who lives far away. But my teacher Paul Desjardins taught that it meant also the pleasure of finding agreement across intellectual distance. I don’t agree with Mr. Riehl on much, but it’s good to know that he can recognize a scoundrel when he sees one, and that he acknowledges – from across the partisan divide – Barack Obama’s personal, moral superiority to Gov. Ken-Doll.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “How pleasant it is when friends come from afar!”

  1. You are not cynical enough, sir. As Kevin Drum was saying the other day, “Voters will forget the debates even happened about ten seconds after the last genuine competitor (i.e., everyone except Ron Paul) drops out. Intra-party feuding will stop about ten seconds after that, when everyone remembers that Barack Obama is Hitler.” Fear not, McArdle and Noonan will come around.

    1. I’m afraid this is probably right. Modern propaganda cycles can go through seemingly recent truths like a woodchipper .

  2. Agreed with Benny Lava on McArdle. She’s capable of reasoned discourse, but usually forgoes it for pointless meandering a la Bainbridge.

    On the other hand, there is a third meaning to the header: it is a great pleasure that some “friends” are as far as they are and not closer. Of course, neither reading precludes the other two–just does not apply in the same circumstances.

  3. I am so happy that there are people like you who will are brave enough to even peek inside those dark and dirty places. When I have tried, even while holding my nose, I have had to back out retching.

  4. There is a real distinction to be drawn between red blogs and conservative blogs, and I’m happy Mark used “red” rather than “conservative”. Blogs like frontporchrepublic and theamericanscene are top-notch enterprises. They also have no fealty to the Republican Party.

  5. * McMegan could have been a smart journalist. Instead, she’s on track to become the next Noonan.

    * Speaking of, her attack is so good because she could be describing herself.

    * Always easier to see in ones opponents, of course, but this cycle is the first time I’ve seen such blatant rationalization and self- bargaining about politicians going on in public. I saw a comment somewhere when the Newt started getting attention. It was something like, “Mitt may be just like Obama, but he is our Obama, and he’ll be better on taxes.” which makes no sense, of course, because Obama has been a pushover on taxes.

    * This all has been hilarious. The RNC could have put this on PPV, and I would have been tempted.

  6. It *is* funny to see somebody offer intellectual respect to Megan ‘Don’t know much ’bout ‘rithmatic’ McArdle.

  7. And when he threatens that he and his fellow wing-nuts will take their ball and go home if Romney is nominated…

    One can hardly blame them. In 2005, according to the Wikipedia:

    Romney ran as a political outsider again, saying he was “not a partisan Republican” but rather a “moderate” with “progressive” views.

    The guy is a Wall Street weasel pretending to be a perfectly lubricated weather vane. Everyone gets that. Everyone. And the fact that everyone (left and right) also thinks Romney is the most electable possible GOP candidate, says a lot about everyone’s true feelings about the American electorate. Surely we must be dummies. How else can you sell a multimillionaire Wall Street pump-and-dumper to a population that just got totally + totally raped by Wall Street?

    Yeah good hair and white teeth ought to count for something, but for everything?
    No one ever accused me of overestimating the American IQ, but even so, I don’t think Romney is the most electable anything.

    No, I see Romney more as a sacrifice…
    And attempt to appease the anti-Wall Street proto-mob, before it becomes a real mob.

    Oligarch #1: I know let’s throw Romney out in front of the bus.
    Oligarch #2: It’s worth a try. It might help diffuse the anger.

    1. >>the fact that everyone (left and right) also thinks Romney is the most electable possible GOP candidate, says a lot about everyone’s true feelings about the American electorate. Surely we must be dummies.>>

      Perhaps not. Perhaps it says we know full well that they all favor the Wall Street crowd, but that we value capability and emotional stability as well as ideology, and when the ideology is the same anyway, then capability and emotional stability are worth quite a bit.

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