Mutual concern

Glenn Reynolds is worried about my mental health; I’m worried about his character disorders.
Isn’t it nice when this sort of goodwill cuts across ideological boundaries?

WARNING:

THIS POST CONSISTS ENTIRELY OF BLOGOSPHERIC INSIDE BASEBALL AND SNARK.

IF YOU READ THIS BLOG FOR POLICY SUBSTANCE, THERE’S NOTHING HERE FOR YOU.

IF YOU ENJOY BLOGOSPHERIC INSIDE BASEBALL AND SNARK, READ ON.

Glenn Reynolds is concerned about my mental health:

Meanwhile, Kleiman is sliding toward an unhealthy obsession, with a seemingly endless series of posts designed to demonstrate my perfidy, and expressing his hopes that Jim Webb will break my teeth.

It’s generous of Glenn to be concerned, but my doc says if we tweak my meds just a little I should be fine.

The prognosis on Glenn’s multiple character disorders, alas, isn’t nearly as bright. His pathological lying is worsening, his narcissism has gone off the charts, and his bullying has completely gotten the better of him. None of these is likely to get better on its own; the patient has to want to improve.

Consider, if you will, what I actually wrote to provoke Glenn’s outburst:

Note to Glenn Reynolds

Have you ever considered, just for a moment, that Jim Webb might be as good a patriot as you are, and as vigorous an opponent of Islamofascism, and think in good faith (and with more expertise than either of us has) that continuing to kill and die in Iraq makes the country weaker and its enemies stronger? Just like General Odom?

Here’s an idea: Visit Washington, and tell Jim Webb to his face that he’s so blinded by partisan hatred that he favors his country’s defeat in the war where his son is serving.

I’ll help pay for the dentures.

You can see for yourself whether Reynolds’s characterization of that post is within 100 miles of accurate. I wasn’t hoping for violence between Webb and Reynolds, as Reynolds knows perfectly well. No doubt in real life Webb has more self-control than that. I was pointing out, in the sort of macho language Glenn loves to use, that he wouldn’t have the nerve to insult Jim Webb to his face the way he loves to insult Webb, and others, from behind his keyboard.

All of this was explained in a series of emails. I have always done Glenn the courtesy of giving him a heads-up when I criticize him; he has never reciprocated.

Here’s the sort of stuff I would love to see Glenn say to Webb:

DEMOCRATS WANT THE IRAQ WAR TO BE BUSH’S DEFEAT

and

Charles Schumer promises another Vietnam. To some people, Vietnam wasn’t a defeat, but a victory. To them, the right side won. And lost. Naturally, they’re happy to repeat the experience.

(Schumer, of course, was promising, not another defeat for the country, but another Congressional effort to make the bleeding stop. And Schumer’s promised effort was in support of Webb’s announced goal: getting us the hell out of Iraq while we still have an army that works.)

And, on the topic of Webb specifically,

A reader emails:

Jim Webb told the Air America/Randi Rhodes lie that the majority of the military doesn’t support the effort. So once again, it seems Democrats get to lie without consequence or question.

There’s not much support for that notion — it’s certainly not what Michael Yon just reported from the front — and it suggests that for Webb’s generation it will always be Vietnam.

The “lie” was Webb’s assertion, backed up by the only available survey (by The Military Times chain), that a majority of the military no longer supports the current policy in Iraq. As usual, Reynolds refused to retract, even after his error had been brought to his attention.

So let me repeat the challenge: would Reynolds have the spine to say any of this to Webb in person? No, I don’t think so, either.

As to the “endless series of posts”:

I’ve had three mentioning Reynolds, including the one above, in the last couple of days, starting from the Mark Steyn flap: the first post, which originally mentioned Reynolds only in passing, as someone who had linked to the review of Steyn, but was later updated to respond to Glenn’s indignant retort, one follow-up, which was mostly the material from the update, and then the post about Webb, which responded to another part of his retort.

Less recently, I’ve teased him twice (here and here) about pushing the utterly silly theory that the Federal deficit is going away on its own (he hasn’t responded to my offer of a bet), and twice challenged him and his colleagues (here and here) to support their theory that Patrick Fitzgerald manufactured a felony by forcing Scooter Libby to lie in an investigation without an underlying crime.

When Glenn said that Barack Obama’s masterly response to John Howard’s attempt to interfere in our domestic political process showed that Obama “could use a bit of seasoning,” and misrepresented Obama as having called Howard a “chickenhawk,” I defended Obama.

There was a horse-laugh when Glenn made fun of stupidity from a Blue state without noting that the dumbkopf in question was a Republican elected official.

When the Bush idolators, including Glenn, were celebrating the botched, brutal hanging of Saddam Hussein, and Bush wasn’t, that fact was noticed here.

And I trashed his hilarious claim that George W. Bush was more popular than Nancy Pelosi as of early January.

Other than a post praising Reynolds for shooting down the silly “Pirate Pelosi” story, those are the only hits for “Reynolds” or “Glenn” or “Instapundit” in this space since the turn of the year.

That’s it: twelve mentions (one favorable) in fifty days, none saying or implying that Glenn is perfidious. (Sloppy, yes. Stubborn, yes. Mean-spirited and small-minded, yes. Intellectually dishonest, yes. But not perfidious.)

Now, is this a case of obsession at UCLA, or of a thin skin at the University of Tennessee?

Yes, I make a habit of calling Reynolds on his bulls**t. He remains an important figure in Red Blogistan, and it’s worth some effort to keep him honest. Like the mainstream media he loves to pester, Reynolds has a big megaphone, gets lots of stuff wrong because he’s writing fast and doesn’t bother to check, hates to retract when he makes an error, and regards people who point out those flaws as annoying.

He also has the temper of a schoolyard bully, happy to inflict injury on those unable to hit back, but quick to act the injured innocent when someone does hit back: It’s not fair! He’s being mean to me!

Still, as I say, I’m grateful for Glenn’s concern, and for his earlier worry about my brush with Bush Derangement Syndrome. I, in turn, hope that he enjoys, if not a full characterological recovery, at least some symptomatic improvement.

Update

This piece generated two protests from long-time readers:

You know, I’m sure you know what you’re doing here, but …. well,

I’m wondering how helpful it is. There’s opportunity cost on your

part (some of us read your blog for wisdom and insight.). There’s the

fact that whole thing really really looks unappetizing to people in

even the next ring out of politicoblogohell. There’s the question of

whether one is standing up to a bully (a good thing) or sinking to

the same level as the enemy.

and

You have explained previously why you see the need to ride herd on Professor Reynolds, and I accept your position. Until the recent exchanges, things had in fact been relatively quiet on that front of late. However, the situation at the moment has reached the wrestling-with-pigs stage. At this point I strongly recommend proclaiming, “I’ve had my say, I’ve got better things to do now”, and then ignoring him for a good long while. I would have recommended that

before last post if I had been asked.

And a gentle reproach from Mike O’Hare.

On the other hand, it got one enthusiastic response:

Reading “Mutual Concern” was the most delightful moment of exposure I’ve witnessed since Toto’s pulling aside the curtain. Bravissimo!

Still, I’m going to listen to the majority. Many thanks to my counselors: “One candid friend is worth a thousand flatterers.”

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com