How pleasant it is when friends come from afar!

[Analects I, i]

Glenn Reynolds and I don’t always agree. In fact, if memory serves, I might even have criticized him once or twice, somewhere back in the distant past. But when he’s right, he’s right.

Reynolds skewers the latest sleazeball tactic from the Mayberry Machiavellis: pretending that opposition to the Estrada nomination is somehow racist. (Note the weaselly way the ad is worded: if challenged, Rove & Co. can say “Oh, we didn’t mean ethnic intolerance; we were talking about ideological intolerance.”) The phrase Reynolds uses to describe the ad is exactly right: it’s a “sucker punch,” a sneaky, cowardly blow.

[One of Matthew Yglesias’s commentators adds a nice detail: the names of three of Clinton’s Latino nominees for circuit court judgeships whose nominations weren’t filibustered only because they were never allowed out of committee.]

Some bloggers, including Matthew and Ted Barlow, are so surprised to see Glenn objecting to Republican sleaze that they misread him, mistaking his pointing to the disgusting ad for praise of that ad, and somehow reading his use of the term “sucker punch” as an expression of admiration for Karl Rove.

That surprise and the misreading it led to reflect a deeper misunderstanding of what Instapundit is about. Glenn’s … ahem … vigor of expression and … ahhh… combativeness in debate (so unlike my own consistently temperate tone, or, for that matter, Matt’s or Ted’s) doesn’t reflect the sort of strong, consistent partisan bent that the three of us share. (Note, for example, that he never uses “liberal” as a term of abuse, or “Democrat” as an adjective, as in “Democrat Party.”)

Right now, Glenn is behind the Administration on the issue of invading Iraq, an issue that’s very important to him. He’s also a libertarian, which makes him sympathetic to some Republican ideas. But that doesn’t mean that he’s found his natural leader in GWB. Unlike many on the traditional right, Glenn extends his suspicion of governmental power and the individuals who wield it to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, and he’s been consistently critical of limiting civil liberties in the name of “the war on terror.” As a genuine believer in letting the markets work (except when it comes to supporting space exploration), Glenn also isn’t very happy with the corporate-pork side of Bushism.

I wouldn’t be very surprised, though I’d be very pleased, to see him supporting a Democrat for President in 2004. Once it becomes clear that the loyalty to the House of Saud on the part of the House of Bush is deep and abiding (and once the damage done by Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility becomes even clearer than it now is), and especially if the Democrat can run convincingly as a smarter and more consistent opponent of Islamic fundamentalist terror than his opponent, I expect Glenn’s vote to be up for grabs.

The Confucian maxim that heads this post isn’t just about having your old buddies fly in from the other coast. It’s about the particular value of finding ground of agreement with someone “coming from a different place.” That liberals are more likely to remember that than conservatives is one of our strengths. Let’s not let go of it, and let’s welcome Glenn in this instance as a friend coming from afar.


And while we’re at it, how about a cheer for Eugene Volokh, a hawk who has been standing up for the right of the doves to have a peace march in New York?

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: