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Washington’s New Celebrities: An Exchange

In response to:

The New Celebrities of Washington from the June 12, 1986 issue

To the Editors:

James Fallows’s piece on “The New Celebrities of Washington” [NYR, June 12] contains a rather oddly appended meditation on my career. He finds in it yet another example of the corrupted state of Washington journalism. It seems I am guilty of two major Fallowian sins: highfalutin thinking (the Reagan Doctrine) and “trimming my sails” (Star Wars). I’ll take the more obnoxious charge first.

Fallows sets out to prove that I changed my mind on Star Wars. I had written two pieces on Star Wars, but only included one in my book. “The first derided the administration line, and vanished; the second praised it, and endured.” Fallows then concludes, more in sorrow than in anger, “This is not a way to use talent, settle arguments, or help choose policies.” The shame. Fallows does not say why this alleged change of views took place, but the implication of someone toadying up to power is clear.

To set the sinister tone, Fallows begins by saying that “Krauthammer’s collection of essays, Cutting Edges, omitted only one major article from his recent writings in The New Republic“—the first Star Wars piece. This is a stupid lie. Cutting Edges omits major New Republic pieces on the Lebanon war, interventionism, and the debt crisis, all written within six months of the first Star Wars piece and all featured on the cover of the New Republic. Moreover, Cutting Edges does not give preference to New Republic pieces, nor, for that matter, to recency. For reasons of space, I had to omit more than a dozen major pieces which were published elsewhere or earlier on pacifism, pornography, affirmative action, scientific imperialism, foreign aid, humanism, human experimentation, political theater—the list is long.

The lie is stupid because unnecessary. What is necessary is the distortions that follow, the central one of which is the characterization of my second piece, the one included in my book, as “praising Star Wars.” Praising? In the opening line of this hymn to Star Wars I say that “President Reagan’s Star Wars plan aimed at making ‘nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete’ is an illusion, and…the promise it holds out of repealing deterrence is a fraud.”

Fallows continues: “The first article said Star Wars was a ploy for sustaining the arms race; the second, a way to end it.” The distortion here is grotesque. In my second piece I argue that Star Wars is indeed a way to end the arms race—if abandoned at the arms control table. The whole point of the piece is to give the strategic rationale (from both the Soviet and American point of view) for a “grand strategic compromise” that would ban Star Wars in return for deep offensive cuts on both sides.

It is a compromise that I explicitly and urgently advocate. Which makes Fallows’s third statement an even nastier example of intellectual dishonesty. He writes: “The first [article] derided the administration line, and vanished; the second praised it, and endured.” The administration line was and is to refuse such a deal. What I advocate is precisely the opposite: “In fact, the Administration’s position heading into the Geneva talks with Gromyko seems to be that Star Wars will not be given up…. [If] the current hard line proves to be not a tactic but a fixed position, the Administration will have missed a historic opportunity.”

There is not a word of praise for the Administration line. The only Administration development I viewed hopefully was the fact that some second-tier officials “were changing their tune” and edging away from the President’s view of Star Wars. I also say that if—as some press reports at the time had it—the Administration was ready to give up Star Wars, and the stonewall was simply a negotiating ploy to get a better deal with deeper cuts, so much the better.

There is a difference between the two pieces. They address entirely different issues. The first deals exclusively with President Reagan’s vision of Star Wars as a population defense. It argues that such a defense is an illusion and a fraud. The second article begins by repeating that argument and then examines an entirely different idea: the idea of “point defense,” defenses that protect weapons (like missile fields), not people.

This distinction is absolutely crucial. Defenses that defend people and defenses that defend weapons have diametrically opposite effects on deterrence. The former weakens it; the latter strengthens it. Which is why Fallows makes no mention of the distinction: it would show that the two pieces, addressing antithetical aspects of the question of defenses, are not contradictory but complimentary. In fact, both articles deride population defense (then, as now, “the Administration line”). The only defensive system that I view favorably is a defense for defending weapons—a view expressed in both pieces. At the conclusion of my first article I say that point defenses might supplement arms control in providing the only avenue to the security promised by Reagan’s Star Wars illusion. The second piece takes up the issue of exactly how such systems for defending weapons play a role in promoting arms control.

I like the first piece. I think that it is correct. Fallows will find it reprinted in a volume of essays on Star Wars edited by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Promise or Peril: The Strategic Defense Initiative (Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, 1986). Fallows’s charge that I have tried to make it vanish is thus as false as it is malicious. As for Cutting Edges, I originally submitted both Star Wars pieces (and others mentioned above) to my publisher for inclusion. The first piece was cut only after his suggestion that the book was too long. In a collection where practically every piece is on a different subject, I had four on the nuclear issue and two on Star Wars alone. The choice was easy. I chose the later one because it had wider scope, was more original, and was more timely.

As I explained to Fallows, the first piece was limited because it dealt only with population defense. At the time the piece first appeared it had some originality. It was one of the first to demonstrate exactly why such a defense was illusory. By the time my book appeared a year and a half later, this demonstration had been done by many others. By then it was somewhat intellectually disreputable to support the President’s idea of a population defense. Even some Administration officials, I noted, were edging away from it.

By mid-1985 when the book was put together, the paramount question had become the relation of Star Wars to arms control. Why? Something important happened between the writing of my first and second piece, an event I emphasized to Fallows and which Fallows characteristically neglects to mention. The first article was written in May 1984. The second in January 1985. What changed in the interim? In the interim, the Soviets ended their boycott of arms control talks, dropped all previous preconditions and agreed to return to Geneva. Their new position was to offer large reductions in offensive weapons in return for the abolition of Star Wars. Gorbachev had made Star Wars the condition on which all arms control progress hinged. It still hinges on that issue.

Hence relevance. As I explained to Fallows, I chose the second piece because I thought that the question of the day was, and would continue to be, the relation of Star Wars to arms control and, specifically, what to do about the Soviet offer of offensive reductions in exchange for curbing defensive systems.

A gossip in search of ad hominems is not impressed by such thoughts. I read, therefore, from the lead headline, front page of The New York Times, June 1, 1986: “Moscow Proposes Reduction in Arms but Gives Warning…Offers Cutbacks if ABM Treaty is reaffirmed….” Reaffirming the ABM Treaty is shorthand for curbing Star Wars. My second piece is an examination of what is, in fact, today’s Soviet arms control position—exactly as I anticipated when choosing it for the book. The second article can be read today as an answer to two crucial questions about the Soviet offer: 1. What is the Soviet motive? (Fear of an American point defense); 2. What should we do? (Accept the offer).

(My view differs from Moscow’s principally in one respect. I see no reason not to amend the ABM treaty to permit more than the one site currently allowed, because, deterrence fundamentalist that I am, I believe that a “tightly limited and partially effective local defense of missile fields would be highly stabilizing” [second piece] and “The only real alternative [to Star Wars] is the very deliberate, unsatisfying path of arms control, supplemented perhaps by mutually agreed technological advances in point defenses” [first piece].)

One other matter, the Reagan Doctrine.

Fallows’s conceit in his “Celebrities” article is his pose as the upholder of the standards of the old journalism, marked by “exposure to detail,” against those of the corrupted new journalistic celebrities “high on erudite-sounding opinion.” Example? Fallows quotes my statement that Reagan’s great talent is in launching new ideas. I list four: small government, supply side economics, strategic defense, and the Reagan Doctrine, each of which, I say, has “radically changed the terms of debate” in its field. Fallows considers this an example of “grand overstatement.” His deflation consists in pointing out that, in fact, Reagan has not cut government. Nor did I say he did. Details, Mr. Fallows. I spoke only of changing the terms of debate. There is a difference between setting a national agenda and enacting it.

As it happens, I am rather antipathetic to two of Reagan’s ideas (small government and Star Wars) and skeptical of another (supply side economics). But will Fallows deny that in these four areas Reagan has changed the terms of debate? Would he deny that the overriding political argument in Washington today is how best to cut the budget? That since the President’s Star Wars speech of 1983, the nuclear debate has been turned on its head from discussions of offensive to defensive weaponry? Or that for the first years of the 1980s the debate about supply side economics, hardly a blip on the horizon before Reagan’s victory, dominated discussion of economic matters?

As for the Reagan Doctrine, Fallows ridicules the notion that it “turns geopolitics on its head.” But the reversals it entails are obvious. For forty years the United States has found itself consistently opposing, sometimes fighting against, guerrilla war. Suddenly we are supporting four of the world’s major guerrilla wars. In the early sixties, Khrushchev proclaimed the legitimacy of “wars of national liberation.” That doctrine has now been embraced by the President of the United States as a way to roll back recent Soviet acquisitions. People may disagree with the Reagan Doctrine as a program for foreign policy. But its power as a unifying idea is established. Established, in part, by its opponents, for whom the term is now common usage, and who have contributed to a bibliography on the subject that, after little more than a year, is extensive (cf. Stephen Rosenfeld’s sharp critique of the Reagan Doctrine in the current issue of Foreign Affairs).

For Fallows, however, my having introduced the idea of the Reagan Doctrine in a Time essay last year is another example of writing “high on erudite-sounding opinion,” the current Washington corruption, begun, it seems, by the infamous George Will. (“The Reagan Doctrine,” mocks Fallows, “turns out to rest on a sentence from Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union Address.” The Truman Doctrine—and the Carter Doctrine for that matter—also turn out to rest on one sentence. Details, Fallows.) Mine is the kind of theorizing journalists should avoid, he says. Their talents are better employed, I gather, doing word counts of the McLaughlin show and finding out how many times a journalist (whose ideology one opposes) has addressed the Association of Amalgamated Widget Makers.

After truly heroic research of this order, Fallows concludes that celebrity, McLaughlin-type talk shows, and proximity to politicians are the root of all the current evil in Washington journalism. This is a little unctuous coming from a man who himself has done Donahue (twice) and McLaughlin (three times—once is research), and whose book party for National Defense—a book advancing Gary Hart’s ideas on military reform—was given for him in the Senate by Gary Hart. The party featured a short, shall we say, courtly speech of tribute from senator to journalist.

At the New Republic we honor such displays of flexibility with what Michael Kinsley has aptly dubbed the Captain Renaud Award, after the police chief in Casablanca who declares, “I’m shocked—shocked!—to find gambling going on here,” pockets his winnings and blows his whistle.

This is no way to use talent, settle arguments, or help choose policies.

Charles Krauthammer

Washington, DC

To the Editors:

I find it fascinating that James Fallows did not cite a single liberal columnist, editor, or TV commentator as being guilty of any of the offenses for which he attacked George Will, Charles Krauthammer, John McLaughlin and me. Surely some of them are at least equally arrogant, interested in making money, willing to savage adversaries and anxious for fame and glory. Fallows seems particularly intent on assailing the reputations of people who favor aid to the Nicaraguan contras, although as to me he has it at least partly wrong. As I’ve said many times on the McLaughlin Group and elsewhere, the contras can’t win if they are not perceived as a democratic alternative to the Sandinistas, and therefore the United States should demand that the rebels reform as the price of American aid.

James Fallows attacks George Will for being too erudite, the McLaughlin Group for being too superficial. He thinks that journalists should be more thoughtful and less commercial, and yet he attacks Charles Krauthammer, who rarely appears on television, for having a complex view of the world—tolerant of diversity on moral topics, certain of where he stands on foreign policy. He seems to go after me on two counts: that I am not enough of a bully on television and, more seriously, that I have tailored my politics to suit reigning fashion.

I tried to explain what I think to Fallows in an interview, but he seems to have been interested only in what could be used against somebody else. As I told him: there are times when the economic, spiritual and geopolitical health of the nation demands liberal management, and other times when the people want conservative leadership. Liberals did great good for the country from 1932 to about 1968, insuring that the great mass of the citizenry shared in the nation’s promise of opportunity. Then they ran out of intellectual energy and their domestic policies merely became a collection of the demands for preference put forward by spokesmen for the movement’s various constitutent groups. The American people began electing conservatives, and with Reagan I think they have had a restoration of confidence and economic growth. Problems of poverty and injustice surely remain, and maybe it will take a liberal restoration to solve them. If the liberals can devise credible alternative policies to provide growth and individual opportunity and if the conservatives either run out of steam or become dominated by extremists, then American politics will and should shift back toward the left. In other words, I am comfortable with a swinging pendulum in domestic politics as long as it remains within democratic limits and does not bash apart what is a fundamentally sound structure. I don’t think this is a political philosophy to be ashamed of.

On foreign policy, I have not wandered, as Fallows charges, but I have moved. I think that liberals were so traumatized by the Vietnam experience that it became nearly impossible for them to contemplate America’s use of force or coercion anywhere in the world. Many of them seemed to doubt whether America, its interests and values, were worth defending. I began to stop being a liberal when the Khmer Rouge butchered the Cambodian population, when the Vietnamese boat people fled the heirs of “gentle” Ho Chi Minh and when the Soviet Union took advantage of détente to launch an unprecedented nuclear buildup and finally invade Afghanistan. The United States has made many foreign policy mistakes and has supported a few human rights monsters, but on the whole America and the West have been good for the world, and by comparison Communism and radicalism are unhealthy to living things and need to be opposed. One can’t go on at length about such ideas on the McLaughlin Group, but surely James Fallows can take account of them in preparing a lengthy article. Instead he seems to have been on an ideological search-and-destroy mission, a kind of literary version of the TV talk shows he condemns.

He is not above shabby personal attack, either, as in his assertion that I became Washington bureau chief of Newsweek magazine because I appear on television. “Visibility,” is a factor in such appointments, but major news organizations do tend to expect a bit of journalistic skill and experience in making management appointments. Before there ever was a McLaughlin Group, I had spent nearly twenty years with the Chicago Sun-Times and The New Republic, and was writing a column for The Wall Street Journal. I’m also a semiregular panelist on This Week With David Brinkley, a far more sedate news/discussion show than McLaughlin, a fact which Fallows knew and omitted.

George Will, Charles Krauthammer and John McLaughlin were shoddily treated, too. They can defend themselves if they choose, but I would note a few particulars: Will became a force in journalism on newspaper op-ed pages, not on television. If he occasionally quotes Chesterton and Oliver Wendell Holmes excessively, he has also considerably elevated the standard of erudition of America’s column pages. When Will is on television, his performances are the antithesis of the raucousness that Fallows decries in McLaughlin. Will is one talk-show participant who does not drum subtlety and complexity out of public issues. Does Fallows give him credit for that? Never.

Fallows is the umpteenth critic to scold Will for coaching Reagan before the 1980 presidential debate. I agree that Will should have disclosed the fact when pronouncing Reagan the debate winner over Jimmy Carter. It is interesting to note, though, that Will is not the first journalist to coach a candidate and keep quiet about it. The sainted Edward R. Murrow, it turns out, gave television advice to Adlai Stevenson in 1956, according to the new biography Murrow: His Life & Times by A.M. Sperber. Fallows presumably didn’t know about Murrow, but he surely did know that Walter Lippmann was a notorious private advice-giver. Somehow he never mentions it.

John McLaughlin does run a wild TV show, but Fallows has exaggerated its effects on the public’s comprehension of the issues. It is a successful piece of show business and most of the people who watch it understand it as such. When Fallows agreed three times to appear on it—one would think he should have refused in an ethical huff—he must have thought it was something more serious.

I think there is special malice in Fallows’s attacks on Krauthammer. In the first place, Krauthammer is in no sense a disciple of George Will. The two have become friends, perhaps even soulmates, but Will had nothing to do with Krauthammer’s becoming an esteemed commentator. He did that himself in the pages of The New Republic by applying awesome intellectual candlepower to illuminate such varied issues as religious zealotry, psychiatric politics and nuclear policy. I was at TNR and watched it happen. In a sense, Krauthammer and I were both disciples of Martin Peretz at the outset, but increasingly Peretz and I became inspired by Krauthammer. Unlike Fallows’s other targets, Krauthammer isn’t a television regular and doesn’t go on the lecture circuit. He has made his reputation and some money the old fashioned way—he’s earned it by thinking and writing. One would have thought this would earn Fallows’s praise. Instead, Fallows lamely attacks Krauthammer’s views and falsely attacks his integrity. How to explain this? I think that Krauthammer, even more than Will, shows promise of becoming the Walter Lippmann of our time, and James Fallows, wishing it were he, can’t stand it.

Morton Kondracke

Washington, D.C.

James Fallows replies:

I do owe Morton Kondracke one apology. In making the final changes in this article, via trans-Pacific phone calls, I ended up forgetting some things I’d meant to say, and had said in a previous version. One of them was that Kondracke got his new job at Newsweek on the strength of his TV performance on top of his many years as a reporter and columnist in Washington. I’m sorry not to have put it that way in the printed version. I did not say in the article, but have been told by numerous people in a position to know, that Kondracke survived several rocky periods as Washington bureau chief largely because of his visibility on TV.

Similarly, I should apologize to John McLaughlin for a last-minute omission. In the article, I quoted McLaughlin’s wonderful comment that traveling to give speeches was edifying because you got to talk with “the person driving the car.” I was glad someone said that, since it perfectly summed up what happened to reporters when they started living from one lecture date to the next. But I was sorry it was McLaughlin who put it just that way. One reason I was sorry, as I explained in the article, is that it’s impossible not to like McLaughlin. The other reason, which I should have included, is that McLaughlin himself has never pretended to be a reporter, and so should not be judged harshly on this point.

As I said in the article, I admire most of Charles Krauthammer’s writing about domestic affairs. There he rarely sounds vindictive or closed-minded, and he writes clearly about very complex issues. What I do not admire about his foreign policy writing, including its wrath-of-God tone, is evident in his letter. I do not have a full library of New Republics available here in Tokyo, but when I read through back issues of the magazine in Washington, the first, “missing” piece on Star Wars struck me as the most substantial of Krauthammer’s New Republic articles not to appear in his book. At a minimum, it seemed more fully thought-out, better written, and more weighty than the second article, and less dated than other cover stories that did not make the cut. Obviously Krauthammer may disagree with my judgment—but is the result a disagreement or a “stupid lie”?

In explaining the contrast between the articles, Krauthammer is selectively forthcoming with his evidence. For example, his quotation from the opening line of his article is incomplete in one seemingly tiny but interesting way. With ellipses restored, the article began, “It is not difficult to make the case that President Reagan’s Star Wars plan aimed at making ‘nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete’ is an illusion, and the promise it holds out, of repealing deterrence, is a fraud.” Omitting the first nine words does not change the literal meaning of the sentence but certainly shifts the nuance, in a way Krauthammer is too sharp not to understand. To spell it out: What he cites now, in his letter, is a bold, unequivocal, anti-Star Wars declaration, whereas the piece actually began with a familiar self-hedging rhetorical gambit, crying out for the “however…” clause that usually follows.

On a larger and more significant scale, this was the difference between the two articles. Literally Krauthammer is right in saying that the first concentrated on defending people and the second on defending weapons. He is also right in saying, and I should have acknowledged, that by the time of the second piece the Soviet Union was displaying its hyperbolic fear of SDI. (That the Russians hate Star Wars so much is still the best thing to be said for the project. The second best is that the Japanese are so eager to pitch in and get a share of the resulting technology.)

From a crude, content-analysis approach, then, the two articles might not appear contradictory. But any sensitive reader had to notice the difference in tone. The first was plainly derisive. (“Deterrence has a difficult enough time sustaining attacks from the left. The last thing it needs as it recovers from the current bout of nuclear Angst is an assault from right wingers with Star Wars in their eyes…. One suspects therefore that for some the hope of abolishing deterrence is not the real reason for pushing Star Wars scenarios, but instead a convenient carrot for getting popular support for a program whose real object would never command any support. And that objective is to force an arms race with the Soviets in areas of technology where we seem to be ahead.”) The second had no derisive note: Its stance was that of Responsible Criticism.

Krauthammer is now at pains to say that his second, pro-Star Wars article is really a more elegant route to arms control. The world will be safer if the “point-defense” project can be started (thus getting the Russians’ attention) and then called off. How tough-minded and responsible a position is this? Unlike the first article, which dripped skepticism and insisted on high standards of proof, the second more or less assumed that the problems of “point-defense” could be worked out. Obviously it is easier to offer partial protection for missiles than total protection for cities. But there are also reasons to wonder whether the protection could ever be significant enough to make a difference. For example, better point-protection might be offset by better decoy warheads—or simply lots more of them launched in an attack. I’m not saying that point defense is necessarily infeasible, just that Krauthammer applied different standards of proof in the two articles.

Apart from technical considerations, what about the heart of Krauthammer’s case—that we should go ahead with Star Wars in order to stop it later on? Here too, anyone inclined toward skepticism could find much to be skeptical about. At what stage, precisely, are the Russians supposed to make their big concession, and the US kill off the program it had theretofore promoted? When the US announces its intention to proceed? After billions of dollars worth of contracts have been let? When advances in basic technology are made? When something like a workable system is on hand? In the early stages, the Russians may believe we’re bluffing—and by the end of the process, the US military and defense contractors may hate to give up something that looks like a winner.

About fifteen years ago, the US enjoyed a lead in multiple-warhead missile technology, as it does in Star-Wars–type systems now. It pushed ahead with MIRV research and development, in part because of “bargaining chip” reasons. (The Russians would fear MIRVs so much that they’d finally part with their big missiles.) In the end, the result was exactly what Krauthammer says he dreads: the bargaining chip was never traded, each side ended up with MIRVs, and everyone was worse off than before. Maybe American and Soviet negotiators, with Solomonic foresight and judgment, could have stopped the MIRVs even after they got started—but the odds were against them, once the system of R&D, contracts, and technical breakthroughs was in place. Will it be different with Star Wars? Maybe so, but if Krauthammer really believes that—as opposed merely to hoping—he might spend more time explaining how Star Wars can ever be turned off. In that case his revised advice—“full speed ahead”—would be as persuasive as his original advice, to stop. Meanwhile, in his Glassboro speech of June 19, the President was still talking of “a shield that could protect us from nuclear missiles just as a roof protects a family from rain.” If I have been unfair to Charles Krauthammer for the shift in tone in his last pieces, I apologize to him. That there was a shift, I believe no politically aware reader would deny.

As for the Reagan Doctrine, our disagreement, as with “small government,” is whether giving things a new name changes their essence. To me it is ludicrous—and a disservice to the reader—to associate Ronald Reagan with “small government” in any way. “Low taxes,” yes—and selective reduction of the (already relatively small) means-tested benefit programs. But as Krauthammer knows, David Stockman proclaims, and Reagan blithely ignores, every significant category of government spending has grown substantially since Reagan took office. Today the debate is about cutting the budget precisely because the cuts made for the last five years have been so trivial, compared to the reduction in taxes. Does Reagan therefore deserve credit for “changing the terms of debate”? Yes, but only if we admit that this “debate” has very little connection with underlying realities. Similarly with the Reagan Doctrine: My point was that its grand sweep and open-ended commitment have little connection to the military engagements that a big, undisciplined democracy is likely to support.

Charles Krauthammer’s stance as an embattled, offended tribune of fiercely independent judgment is particularly unfortunate as regards the Reagan Doctrine. A recent article in The Washington Post, by Sidney Blumenthal, pointed out that Krauthammer, in a Time magazine column, had first called Reagan’s policy a “doctrine.” Blumenthal’s article then said, of Krauthammer:

We had him in for an off-the-record lunch” with the President, said an administration source. “He popularized the term, a rallying point for conservatives.” “I love that guy Krauthammer for inventing the Reagan Doctrine,” said the (conservative) adventurer, Jack Wheeler.

Krauthammer’s meeting was part of a series initiated by Patrick Buchanan, the White House communications director, who hoped to court journalists through private sessions with President Reagan. Morton Kondracke, Fred Barnes of The New Republic, and the radio broadcaster Paul Harvey have also taken part.

Morton Kondracke implies that I criticized certain columnists because I oppose the contras or conservatives in general. In fact, I wrote this article before the contra debate came to a boil, and there was no mention of it at all in the first draft of the piece. Why do I concentrate on conservatives? Because in 1986, in the late summer of the Reagan era in Washington, who else is in control? If you wanted to describe the most powerful and well-connected members of the Washington press corps in 1962, would you concentrate on Republicans and Kennedy-haters? Of course not. You would write about Ben Bradlee, Charles Bartlett, and the others who flaunted their connection to the White House. To concentrate on anyone but George Will now would be to miss the point. Moreover—as I tried to explain in my article—conservatives have been disproportionately successful in the new lecture-circuit business, because so much of the money is coming from trade associations. “There are two things you have to do to make it in this business,” I quoted one agent as saying. “One is become known as a personality, which means broadcast. And the other is to be politically conservative.”

Charles Krauthammer tries to dismiss the entire question of money-machine journalism—which was the subject of most of my article—through a columnist’s least lovable tactic, the arch and superior-sounding put-down. By coming up with a “funny” name—Amalgamated Widget Makers—he can pronounce the topic beneath consideration. I made no accusations against Krauthammer on this score: He is referring to my criticism of the man who sets the standard in Washington, George Will. The source of money is important in any business, and the radical change in how Washington journalists make their money, and how much they can make, has to have had some impact. My interpretation of the impact may not be correct, but the subject deserves more than to be laughed away.

As for the final suggestion, that I am hypocritically criticizing others for things I do myself (Krauthammer), or resentfully attacking those whose success I wish I enjoyed (Kondracke), there is obviously no graceful way to respond. I have my ambitions, like anyone else. But to interpret them as pointing yearningly (if unsuccessfully) toward Washington pundit-hood is to reveal duller instincts about personality and motivation than I thought these two men possessed.

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