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Ponnuru v. Goldstein

After an unusually long hiatus I find myself drawn back into posting by having seen this recent post. (And no, I did not write it, for those of you with memories that go back that far.) Regarding the substance of the dispute between Ponnurru and Goldstein, I generally could not care less, which I guess puts me mostly in line with both Goldstein and Juan Non-Volokh in finding this to be much ado about very little.

I am drawn to comment, however, by the unusually nasty tone of Ponnurru's replies, particularly given that he does not seem to be getting the better of the argument. The only point that I write to make is that Ponnuru loses all credibility — and I would think the respect of most reasonable people — when he calls Goldstein dishonest and stupid. (I'm willing to accept slippery, though that certainly cuts against stupid).

I am happy to disclose that I am quite good friends with Goldstein and have known him for a very long time. I can also vouch for the fact that he is neither dishonest nor stupid and it is my humble opinion that his arguments in his exchanges with Ponnuru are likewise neither dishonest nor stupid (though I do not necessarily agree with every one of them). Whether reasonable persons might differ as to his substantive points is an entirely separate matter that I will leave to such reasonable persons. My suggestion to Mr. Ponnuru, however, is to lay off the name calling. If you have arguments, make them, and let the readers decide. Resorting to name-calling suggests that you lack more substantive responses and are perhaps out of your weight class. If you want to duke it out with the big boys then start acting like one.

Perhaps this post will define me in Ponnuru's eyes as both biased and stupid, though I imagine that will only reinforce my earlier points. I am no partisan either for or against Professor Tribe, my right-wing bona fides are fairly decent, and I will let others decide for themselves whether I am stupid. I am, however, a friend of Tom Goldstein, and friends do not allow mean-spirited and erroneous slanders to sit unanswered, especially when they are coming from "my side" of the fence.