Jonah: I guess I need to go back to writing school, if my intents are being so widely misunderstood.
My only intent in saying “as if anyone cares about actual numbers in rhetorical punch-ups like the Kerry flap” was to point up the contrast between all the heated to-ing and fro-ing about what Kerry said, based on just sitting and listening to him say it (yes, I’ll include myself in that), and the sobering cold-water effect of seeing actual numbers on the underlying issue. That’s all. I wasn’t making a case for this side or that side of the argument, only for the light-shedding power of numbers, by contrast with the heat-generating power of rhetoric.
Either I really do need some extra courses in clarity of expression, or that passionate eagerness to seek out and take offense, that is one of the great social curses of our age, has now leaked into conservative territory. Which latter, I am very reluctant to believe.