This blog–I used to hate calling it that, but, as you can see, I've gotten over it–has a very simple purpose: we read the papers, we find some misbegotten inferences, and we point that out. Sometimes, we do other, related things, like discuss general "logical" issues. It doesn't take a whole lot of smarts. As a matter of fact, that's the message. Our intuition some four years ago was that the nature of public argument–especially that of the op-ed pages–was in a very sorry state. The few people who actually engage in it–the ones listed in the categories here on the page–too frequently do it badly. Even accounting for the natural limitations of the genre of the op-ed, there doesn't seem to be any excuse for this. Most of these people have received the best educations (at the highest levels) money can buy. And so they ought to know when they say stuff that's misleading, unfair, wrong, or just plain nonsense.
Having said that, by way of reminder I suppose, take a gander at David Ignatius. Last week he was uncertain of Obama, he's gotten over it. His critical faculty is now directed at Hillary Clinton. He writes:
The experience issue will dominate the final weeks of the Democratic primary campaign. Hillary Clinton's only remaining trump card is that she has been in the White House before and will be ready, as she repeats so tirelessly, from Day One.
Notice the weaselly adverbial phrase. This paints a picture of a droning, redundant and repetitive tedium to Clinton's argument. But Ignatius, true to form, doesn't give us any reasons for thinking that. Whatever her virtues and vices, Mrs. Clinton has a lot to say on a lot of issues and she differs significantly from Obama in a number of important, and to many voters, attractive ways. More fundamentally, why would "the experience issue" dominate the final weeks of the campaign? There is no justification for that claim–the central premise of this piece. Before we say some words about that, let's see how this paragraph finishes:
But ready for what? For a recapitulation of the people and policies that guided the country in the past? That's an attractive proposition only if you think that the world of the 1990s — or '80s, or '70s — can be re-created.
Ignatius answers his own rhetorical question–"ready for what?" with another rhetorical question. I suppose that means he's being both rude to himself and clueless about his own rhetorical strategy at the same time. On top of that, this is just a silly inference. Having experience, on any reasonable interpretation of that claim, does not obviously entail some kind of intellectual stasis or desire to repeat things over and over redundantly.
Maybe consistency is overrated, but this is what Ignatius said about Obama:
Obama's inexperience is not a fatal flaw, but it's a real issue.
This week he says that Clinton's experience is not a real issue, but it's a fatal flaw.