The Corner

Politics & Policy

Against Arbitrary Critiques

Shay Khatiri, a frequent contributor to The Bulwark, took issue with Alexandra DeSanctis’s piece on Kamala Harris and her criticism of Joe Biden during the Democratic primary. In it, DeSanctis reminded readers of Harris’s claims that Biden was insufficiently supportive of school integration and that she believed all of the women who have accused Biden of sexual misconduct. In a tweet promoting her article, DeSanctis posed the question; “Will anyone ask Harris whether she’s changed her mind?” Khatiri responded by asking if anyone at National Review had asked the White House if President Trump had changed his mind about Ted Cruz’s dad killing JFK.

I thought this a silly and irrelevant retort to the article and engaged in a brief back and forth with Khatiri. I pointed out that whether National Review had asked a question — the answer to which strikes me as manifestly obvious — was immaterial to DeSanctis’s argument. Khatiri repeated his query. I shared three separate articles published at National Review that condemned and mocked Trump for his reckless slander of Rafael Cruz. Khatiri responded, “So nobody asked the White House.” I explained that because I was in high school when the incident occurred, I could not say with any confidence if a representative of National Review had asked that specific question, but noted that National Review is first and foremost a commentary publication, and that all of its commentary on this subject had excoriated Trump. Khatiri replied “When it was easy. Of course,” before going on to again repeat his original, inane question. I left it alone after that, but if Khatiri wants evidence that the writers and editors of National Review remain willing to criticize the president when they think him wrong, I’d direct him to not one, not two, but three recent editorials.

Lazy, stubborn accusations levied between conservative supporters and detractors of Donald Trump — a staple of the Trump era — are only increasing in frequency as Election Day nears. Both factions would benefit from remaining clear-headed in their arguments, instead of relying on arbitrary purity tests.

For those more interested in persuasion than preening, I’d recommend reading Cameron Hilditch’s excellent piece on the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln.

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