Sunday, June 07, 2009

President of Ethics and Public Policy Center demonstrates juvenile lack of ethics

Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the OLC while the Bush administration's torture regime was being manufactured, responded to some rather mundane criticism of his blogging by "Publius" of Obsidian Wings by revealing Publius' personal identity despite having been told that he blogs with a pseudonym for professional and private reasons.

As I told Ed (to no avail), I have blogged under a pseudonym largely for private and professional reasons. Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems. And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients. I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts. So I don’t tell them about this blog. Also, I write and research on telecom policy – and I consider blogging and academic research separate endeavors. This, frankly, is a hobby.

Privately, I don’t write under my own name for family reasons. I’m from a conservative Southern family – and there are certain family members who I’d prefer not to know about this blog (thanks Ed). Also, I have family members who are well known in my home state who have had political jobs with Republicans, and I don’t want my posts to jeopardize anything for them (thanks again).

All of these things I would have told Ed, if he had asked. Instead, I told him that I have family and professional reasons for not publishing under my own name, and he wrote back and called me an “idiot” and a “coward.”
Whelan's outing of Publish was petty and mean spirited, especially given the fact that Publius merely linked to criticism of Whelan and quoted another anonymous blogger - Anonymous Liberal - who points out that Whelan outed Publius not because of any legitimate reason to do so but because Whelan is unable to deal with the content of the devastating criticism he has received, so he instead tries to make it an ad hominem issue.

Except this has backfired for Whelan, seeing as the verdict across the board seems to not be in Whelan's favor.

I remind Mr. Whelan that "Publius" was once the pseudonym used to sell the Constitution to the people of the then not so united states of America, and that much of the constitutional debate was argued on both sides anonymously.

Update: One of the things that motivated Whelan's outing of "Publius" was Publius having described Whelan's function within the conservative movement as that of a "know-nothing demagogue" who ignores facts and his legal training to put forth arguments that service the Republican cause. Gary Farber reminds us of previous evidence suggesting that "know-nothing demagogue" is an accurate characterization.

Update II: To his credit, Mr. Whelan has apologized.

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