The Corner

John!

I’m not upset, but I do have better things to do. The reason I keep noting the fact that I have not made various points is that you keep erroneously attributing these points to me. Knock it off.

As for your question: “Do you really want to argue that you aren’t arguing anything when you attempt to point out someone else’s inconsistencies — in this case, Charles Krauthammer’s?” Well, no, I don’t want to argue that I’m not arguing anything–I want to argue that I am arguing only the limited point I am arguing, and not anything broader. I have occasionally criticized arguments against same-sex marriage. Very few people have taken those criticisms to be anything more than they were intended to be–to be, for example, arguments for same-sex marriage.

If this rhetorical question of yours had the force–i.e., strength, validity, logical persuasiveness–that you seem to think it does, it could just as easily be turned around on you: Do you really think that you’re not arguing for embryonic stem-cell research when you criticize its opponents, albeit in a scattershot way? But that would be unfair. I have never attributed to you the view that embryonic stem-cell research should proceed or be federally funded, because you haven’t said that. I certainly haven’t speculated about your religious views (as in your “salvation of the souls of millions” line, among several others–I’m not the one who’s been mentioning God every other post). It would be nice if you would extend the same courtesy.

You are, however, correct to say that I have merely asserted that you have been inconsistent. So let me give you an example.

At 5:29 pm yesterday, you wrote, apropos of I have no idea what: “But here we are, living in a democratic society in which other people have other opinions on this matter. . . . This argument has now become part of the political debate. That is as it should be. . .” At 10:42 pm yesterday, you wrote: “I don’t quite know what you mean when you say that say that public opinion running, say, 40 percent against a thing should be taken into account when a policy is bruited about. Such a fact goes without saying, because our system is a representative one. The way we make such decisions, in a representative republic-democracy, is through the votes of our elected officials.”

Doesn’t it “go without saying” that we “are living in a democratic society in which other people have opinions”? Has anyone denied this point? Has anyone suggested that a dictatorship ought to be established to impose a particular stem-cell policy? Have I? If it “goes without saying” when I say it, why is it a profound point when you do?

Or how about this one? The 5:29 Podhoretz: “If such research is by definition immoral, it’s immoral no matter whose dime is spent doing it.” In context, this has to be taken to mean that nobody who objects to the legality of the research has any additional reason to object to being forced to subsidize it. It’s no worse. Then there’s the 10:42 Podhoretz: “Of course it is the case, as you say, that ‘if the opponents of the policy are right that embryonic stem-cell research is an evil, then having the state encourage and subsidize it is an additional evil.’” So “of course” the 5:29 Podhoretz was wrong. It goes without saying!

Look, I’ve already spent too much time trying to untangle your comments. Enough already.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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