Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Another Blogger Outed

Publius, one of a few excellent bloggers over at Obsidian Wings, has had his identity outed over at the National Review by Ed Whelan, former Bush administration lawyer and current president of... the Ethics and Public Policy Center. (Yes, you read that right.) You can read publius' response here (followup here).

I'd really prefer not to make this sort of thing its own permanent category. As we discussed a previous time this happened, there are many good reasons to write under a pseudonym, and it's got a long and honorable tradition in our country.

I'm glad some conservatives don't approve of what Whelan did. His post itself is astonishingly snotty. You can also check out responses from LGM, John Cole (one and two) Sadly, No, TBogg (one and two), Anonymous Liberal, skippy and Gary Farber. Back-tracking through those posts, you can get a good taste of Whelan's past character and conduct.

Steve Benen provides a good account of this entire afair:

Even by the standards of conservative bloggers, this is surprisingly cheap, petty, and unnecessary.

In email correspondence between the two, publius, who has guest-blogged for me here at Political Animal, explained to Whelan that he uses a pseudonym for "private, family, and professional" reasons. Whelan published his name anyway, because he could. In an email to publius, he asked, "Now who's the hitman"?

Under the circumstances, the rhetorical question seems rather ironic.

Whelan's feelings of frustration are not surprising. There have been a number of bloggers, including publius, who've challenged his arguments of late, and at times exposed Whelan's errors of fact and judgment. For someone with Whelan's background -- former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, former Supreme Court clerk, successful attorney -- that must be exasperating.

But to respond in such a childish and cruel way makes Whelan look far worse than any critique from publius could have.

In a post last night, A.L., noting the "Hannity-esque" partisanship of Whelan's recent efforts, added, "...I think that's why he's so thin-skinned. Getting called out on your hackery is tough if you're someone who takes pride in your intelligence. It's embarrassing. So Whelan reacted by lashing out and 'outing' one of his most thoughtful and persistent critics. It's school-yard bully kind of stuff. An act of extreme insecurity."

Meanwhile, publius' blogmate Hilzoy gives her characteristically thorough treatment both to pseudonymous blogging in general and to Whelan and his actions specifically. Do read the whole thing, but she's absolutely correct when she writes:

What Whelan did added nothing to his or anyone else's arguments about the law. He had no reason to do this, other than pique. He outed publius as a law professor, but he also outed himself as a petulant bully. I hope he likes the publicity.

Update: Whelan has now apologized.

(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)

1 comment:

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

...had his identity outed over at the National Review by Ed Whelan, former Bush administration lawyer and current president of... the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

O! It is palpable, their hypocrisy!

Akin to "We do not torture" and "we fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" or "enhanced interrogation technique" or "collateral damage"...