Richard Painter, Unglued

It’s come to my attention that somewhere other than the Huffington Post–somewhere called the “Legal Ethics Forum,” where the ushers should remove him forthwith if they want to maintain truth in advertising–Richard Painter has replied to my comment this morning that he owes Ed Whelan an apology.

Painter neither links to nor quotes from my post to which he is responding.  Readers of his latest would therefore not learn from him that “the National Review” (drop the definite article, please) did not “demand” an apology.  I said he “owed” Ed Whelan an apology, and “demanded” nothing; granted, the distinction is a subtle one, but we expect legal ethicists to grasp such things.  I did not say he owed “the National Review” an apology, nor am I “the National Review” or in a position to speak for it if anything were to be “demanded” by it or on its behalf.  But Painter’s carelessness with such elementary facts is by now a familiar characteristic of his manner of arguing: he keeps referring to Ed as “National Review Online’s Ed Whelan” as though he did not know that Ed is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a former Justice Department staffer, and a prominent constitutional and legal commentator in national political circles. 

Since he won’t even quote or link to what I said, I’ll repeat the gravamen of the charge: Painter has insinuated that Ed, the target of his HuffPo criticism, is an anti-Asian-American racist.  Now in this new post, he tries to scurry away from his plain innuendo by babbling on irrelevantly about the examples he used of Louis Brandeis, Clarence Thomas, and Miguel Estrada–three examples he chose because, as his new post confirms, their opponents could plausibly be charged with racial or ethnic prejudice.  Before the babbling, though, he assures us:

I do not say the attacks on Liu that I critique are because Liu is Asian American.  Nowhere in this paragraph do I mention the attacks from Ed Whelan or anyone else at the National Review.  I am not accusing them of bias

Ah, “[n]owhere in this paragraph”!  Now I get our legal ethicist’s standards of judging the totality of what a man says!  It matters what our individual paragraphs say.  Okay then.  So suppose I were to talk a good deal about feckless idiots who can’t make an argument?

And then started a new paragraph about Richard Painter?

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. He ...

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