Today was not a good day for the Washington Post’s op-ed page. In addition to E.J. Dionne Jr.’s mess, it included Michael Kinsley’s “Why Lawyers Are Liars” (not to mention some other stuff that I haven’t read).
Notwithstanding my attention-catching title, I don’t know whether Kinsley is a liar. Maybe he’s just sloppy. In any event, his op-ed is rife with seemingly opportunistic misstatements. For example, relying solely on the dubious accounts of two Democratic senators (one of whom was Teddy Kennedy), Kinsley contends that Alito tried to distance himself from his statement on abortion in his 1985 job essay by stating that he “was just ’seeking a job’”. Kinsley somehow neglects Alito’s own hearing testimony in which he made clear that the views in that essay were his at the time. Similarly, Kinsley mischaracterizes as “evasion, if not outright lying,” a nominee’s straightforward statement that his understanding of judicial ethics (or of the judicial role) forbids him from answering certain questions. And (to limit myself to just one more example) he includes in his litany of supposed lies a statement that he concedes is true but that he thinks “does not bear excessive emphasis”.