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March 25, 2006

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Save for our own Hilzoy, who characteristically took the high road, there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

Any links to examples of these baseless and odious attacks? I feel guilt much better with somnething concrete.

Von: First, I feel sorry for the guy. We all should. I won't minimize his errors, but one can't ignore the fact that he endured a lot of truly baseless -- and truly odious -- attacks. The fact that the final charge stuck (and properly so) doesn't make the rest of it right. Save for our own Hilzoy, who characteristically took the high road, there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

Oh, come off it. Augustine/Ben Domenech authored a lot of truly baseless and odious attacks. (That comment about judges being "worse than the KKK"?) When a blogger takes the low road, does he have any particular right to complain when his opponents take the same road? (And I suspect his claims to have received the most vicious attacks via e-mail is just a rework of an old cliche: "The lurkers attack me in e-mail!")

Why do you feel sorry for him? I mean, feel free: did you also feel sorry for Dick Cheney? Why do you feel the rest of us ought to feel sorry for him? Because he was verbally and publicly attacked for the vile and odious things he said? Do you think that when someone says something vile and odious, that automatically makes him immune to attack? Or do you think that when someone loses his job due to really incredible stupidity, he ought to get a break from having his stupidity (and the other vile things he said) pointed out to him?

Second, I expect Domenech to be back. Moreover, I look forward to his return.

Why? Do you enjoy reading the vile things Domenech says so you don't have to say them yourself? Vicarious revelling in racism and abuse?

First, I feel sorry for the guy. We all should.

Nope.

Save for our own Hilzoy, who characteristically took the high road, there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

As with Tim, mind putting forth specifics for this supposed shame?

Second, I expect Domenech to be back.

So do I, but I sincerely doubt we're drawing the same conclusions about his likely return.

Here's looking forward to Domenech's next act -- which hopefully sees him recast as a Rockefeller Republican ;-).

Jocularity aside, is there any reason to believe that he'll return as anything other than what he was?

Jesus [deleted - Ed]. The guy said judges were worse than the KKK and CS King was a communist and you're going to whine about people being unfair to him (unnamed people)

Jesus on a popsicle stick.

I actually did a search at Kos, and I read a lot of Atrios and FDL, and I couldn't find anything other than references to the KKK, commie and the strange article on black abortions, all of which led directly to the racist comments.

So, no, I don't find the vicious and baseless attacks anywhere I looked. I too would like links,

Otherwise, it is no more than a baseless and vicious smear campaign, perpetuated by the Ben's frustrated supporters.

Interestingly, O'Rourke says he never gave Ben any permission. I forget who said it, but the quote goes, more or less, "A man who will lie will do anything." I kind of think that's true, don't you?

Jake

First, I feel sorry for the guy. We all should.

I sure don't feel sorry for him. Actions have consequences and Nomenech needs to act like a man and take responsibility for his actions. The excuse ladden diary he wrote yesterday at Redstate is, frankly, something he should be ashamed of.

Save for our own Hilzoy, who characteristically took the high road, there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

I don't put much stock in the "they started it first" excuse, but it is at least relevant to this discussion. If the fire breathers on the Right, like Ben Domenech, want to keep calling Lefties, Democrats or Liberals traitors then they shouldn't get so upset when the same Lefties, Democrats or Liberals take pot shots at them when the opportunities arise. Domenech has reaped what he has sown.

I read somewhere that the Fitzgerald quote should be considered an allusion to the classic 3 act play structure, and Americans are too impatient to actually go thru a second act to get to the conclusion. If that's the case, then it suits Domenach quite well, in that he clearly tried to skip the character development and leap directly to the final act where he takes the bashing that us liberal traitors usually mete out to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Or in Ben's own words, "To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America." (one would have thought that he would have stayed on the mound for the whole week rather than get knocked out after a few innings)

However, the people I do feel sorry for are the ones who went out on a limb for him. A little.

I would note that over at Redstate, Charles got chewed out because he was supposed to contact Ben and the other editors by IM or email. This strikes me as a form of collusion, or message discipline if you like, which strikes me as one of those conservative/liberal splits.

von's sentiments are those of someone with a good heart. Ben may be such a young man as well, but he has much to learn and clearly has not yet absorbed the lesson about actions and consequences -- and, as Steve pointed out in the other thread, the folks at RedState (in their public statements, at least) have not helped him.

I, too, would appreciate links to the attacks to which everyone over there is referring.

I've seen the bloggers who cried "racist" and, right or wrong (and level of discourse aside), they had their reasons and Ben (as do all of us who vent online without a filter) gave them ammo.

I've seen the references to his home-schooling and questions about his mom's competence as a teacher. Those who disagree with me (especially if I get a job as an opinion writer) are free to question the teaching of the Misses King, Elliott, Henderson, Vann, Linehart, and Mr.'s Lungren, Hart, Mills, etc.

I've seen the questioning of his father's political actions/connections. Fair game.

So what did I miss, outside of comments threads which are (present company mostly excepted) full of loons?

What everyone else said.

And, to add: I feel compassion, to one extent or another, for a lot of people in this.

I feel for some of the folks at Redstate who, for all their flaws and nastiness, were basically loyally standing by their friend and assuming he was telling the truth without looking too closely at the evidence.

I feel for Ben's father, who posted in the first non-apology thread that he was proud of his son. I could hear my own father speaking those words, and I would hope all of us with living fathers are lucky enough to have one like that. If I'd just lied through my teeth in public and my father posted that he was proud of me, I'd feel like world-class scum.

I feel for Domenech's family, who didn't deserve to get dragged into the consequences of his dishonesty. If anyone on the net was prank-calling them or making threats, I hope they rot. But any embarassment they suffered that is solely the result of his resignation and public humiliation are his fault alone, and he needs to answer to them.

For Domenech himself, I have nothing but contempt. Someone who has spent his political and blogging careers demonizing people has no room for complaint when it blows back on him. He built his journalistic career, such as it is, by stealing the works of others. When his theft started coming to light, he spent two days shifting the blame onto others, lied to his friends and family, and let them publicly stake their reputations on things he knew to be lies. When confronted with evidence of his actions, he posted a public non-apology in which he lied some more and shifted blame some more, still letting his friends twist in the wind on his behalf and making them look like chumps.

And now that there's incontrovertible proof that he was lying, we're supposed to give him credit for fessing up? His most recent apology took almost no courage. At that point, his only alternative was to slink off into the sunset without a further word. It was an apology given only after he'd spent two days lying to and betraying everyone around him, given only when he couldn't hide from the truth anymore. It is remarkable only in that it contains a minimum of equivocation.

Ben Domenech is a thief, a liar, and a moral coward. He is unworthy of your respect, von.

I would feel sorry for someone who claimed to be a redeemed servant of Jesus Christ and didn't go on to make vile, hateful, proud attacks on big swathes of the rest of us. But Domenech claimed the highest moral ground and used it not to show us an example of temperance, kindness, charity, and all the other virtues Christians are supposed to care about, but anger, ignorance, meanness, and other things his God said pretty clearly are sins. Now we cap it off by finding a sustained pattern of what has to be consciously chosen fraud.

I will feel sorry for him if he ever genuinely repents and starts writing in a way that shows a little humility. Until then, absolutely not--he worked hard to put a wall of hate between himself and people like me, and if he wants to take it down, he has to do the work. I've got my hands full dealing with people who show some smidgen of decent good will.

Besides, it's not like his connections will allow him to suffer for it. A liberal or progressive who engaged in years on end of plagiarism might actually run into personal and professional consequences, but nobody that plugged into the Bush machine will. It doesn't seem that any crime is sufficient to get you tossed out of the machine's loving embrace until/unless you criticize the boss man and "his" plans. He'll face a little flack for giving the evil liberals a moment' story, but then the press will refuse to follow up on the underlying questions, the machine will give him something else to do, and life will continue grandly. For them.

First -- although I think the Domenech's wrong, wrong and the punishment just -- let's not kid ourselves: plagiarism is not the first evil. Indeed, in my position, I deal with wrongdoing every day that far exceeds that of Domenech's.

Second, Domenech's reaction -- although disappointing -- is not particularly surprising. Again, I'm undoubtably influenced by my job, but I would say that 95% of folks in Domenech's position (and worse) would react just as he did.

Third, although part of my dispute with Domenech's worldview is that he has too much faith in the rightness of his own beliefs (aka, pride), I don't judge him by the standards he might have set for others (or me). It matters not to me whether there is irony (or not) in this particular fall.

Fourth, I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson. If we instantly presume the worst of our fellow folk, we get no where.

Finally, I would point to Catsy's and Jes's comments as comments of which, after reflection, I believe that the authors would not be proud.

Fourth, I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson.

I'll bet you $100 to the charity of your choice that he doesn't.

Frankly, I think Catsy and Jesurgislac are spot on. And while I suppose I should take solace in the fact that this demonstrates that you're a stand-up guy, von, maybe you should reflect upon the fact that Ben Domenech almost certainly would never have extended the same courtesy and sentiment to you should something like this have arisen, and definitely not to any of your liberal co-bloggers. If, as Ben's God suggests, one reaps what one sows, perhaps Ben should have spent the last several years of his life planting different seed.

First -- although I think the Domenech's wrong, wrong and the punishment just -- let's not kid ourselves: plagiarism is not the first evil.

Nor is it the only one of which he stands accused; it's just the one that happened to terminate his employment at the Washington Post.

Fourth, I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson. If we instantly presume the worst of our fellow folk, we get no where.

Conversely, if we instantly presume the best when a host of evidence suggests the contrary, we get worse than nowhere.

Domenech's reaction -- although disappointing -- is not particularly surprising. Again, I'm undoubtably influenced by my job, but I would say that 95% of folks in Domenech's position (and worse) would react just as he did.

Perhaps, perhaps not--but they are undeserving of praise and adulation when they do so. If you look at the threads on Redstate, you'd think that he was guilty of some minor transgression that he owned up to with alacrity and decency. Nothing could be further from the truth: he built a career on theft and dishonesty, and when the truth came out he spent two days lying to everyone about it--including his friends and colleagues, whom he let stake their reputations on it. That's not admirable or excusable in any way.

Fourth, I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson. If we instantly presume the worst of our fellow folk, we get no where.

I do indeed hope that Domenech learned his lesson, although I think he would be more likely to do so if he were not surrounded by the company of peers who refused to hold him accountable for his actions, instead enabling his claims of victimization and helping him shift blame onto The Left(tm).

None of that, however, has anything to do with the way he dealt with this situation, which has been almost uniformly loathsome.

Finally, I would point to Catsy's and Jes's comments as comments of which, after reflection, I believe that the authors would not be proud.

I only posted after the benefit of a night's reflection. This is not ad-lib schadenfreude, it is the result of careful consideration of the matter.

This is why I haven't posted on Redstate about it, or posted in his second apology thread to give him kudos. I don't think there's anything admirable in owning up to your wrongs only after you've already lied about them repeatedly and been backed into a corner where you have no choice but to 'fess up. But I also don't think there's any benefit to going on there and kicking him while he's down--it would succeed only in getting me banned, pissing off people I see no need to piss off, and discouraging him from future honesty. And, I gave several people my word I would take a break from Redstate and leave them alone until things cooled down over this.

So Von, while I appreciate your solicitude for my conscience, I stand by what I said.

plagiarism is not the first evil. Indeed, in my position, I deal with wrongdoing every day that far exceeds that of Domenech's.

I wouldn't kick a serial killer out of prison to make room for Ben Nomenech, and I don't think anyone else would. Who believes or even implied that plagiarism is "the first evil" or even close to it?

Second, Domenech's reaction -- although disappointing -- is not particularly surprising.

His "disappointing" reaction is why I have no sympathy for him. As others have noted, Ben's friends at RedState put a lot on the line to defend him and he stood by and egged them on. I find it hard to believe Ben didn't know his friends were defending a guilty man. His actions were nothing less than shameful.

I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson.

I don't think he will learn any lesson if others continue to dismiss his wrongdoings as minor, easily understood or youthful indescretions, as I believe you are doing. Nomenech's journalistic career may be over three days after it started. While his plagiarism may not be "the first evil" it has cost him a dream job and possibly a career. It doesn't appear to me that either you or he realize how horrible those consequenses are.

I hope this helps him become a better person, or even a good person.

Till then, this is just a case of a bad person getting what he deserves. He lived by fanning the flames of hatred and by lying and by defaming. Boo freaking hoo that the truth and his own actions have consequences.

I think he should enlist.

Come on now. Another conservative gets added to the list of liars and you feel sorry for him.
I wouldn't put any stock at all in his faux contrition.

First, I feel sorry for the guy. We all should.

Really, von? Tell us, then why we should. The Ben Domenech case is not a matter of a repected writer or journalist with an otherwise fine record who has unfortunately been caught out in plagiarism: he is/was a partisan hack blogger, writing on a partisan hack echo-chamber blog, and most of whose output has consisted mostly of precisely those "baseless and truly odious attacks" you seem to feel are so awful when directed back at poor Augustine the Martyr.

I'm sure there's a word or words (in Ancient Greek, probably) that describe the Ben Domenech types of the blogosphere in a nutshell: "pride" , imo, doesn't quite make it. "Arrogant overweening self-righteousness" does: as does "sneering dismissive contempt for opposing viewpoints", also: "egocentric self-importance" - take your pick, von; but if you expect sympathy and/or "understanding" for a writer's travails with a plagiarism scandal, you might want to selct a better example than Ben Domenech of RedState.
He just ain't a sympathetic character, and, IMHO, got exactlyly what he deserved.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked that "There are no second acts in American lives." It was among the stupider things that he ever said.

Along with, "Let me never stop drinking martinis."

P.S. -- I wonder how many of the Washington Post's fellow residents of Chocolate City (h/t: Parliament) feel that activist judges are worse than the KKK.

Finally, I would point to Catsy's and Jes's comments as comments of which, after reflection, I believe that the authors would not be proud.

I think suggesting that Jes and Catsy ought to take the high road isn't really demonstrating much forgiveness on your part, especially after arguing that 'there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.' (what sites are taking as typical? And are they front page posts and not comments?)

And I think it was Paul who said 'be angry and sin not' Would that a few more people on your side of the fence be a little angrier when accusations against the left are raised.

JayC, I think the word you are looking for is hubris.

Von, can you please provide a link that demonstrates that "one can't ignore the fact that he endured a lot of truly baseless -- and truly odious -- attacks."

Sure, I will concede that some of my colleagues on the Left went over the top in attacking Ben. This being the Internet, I can practically concede that point without even reading what they said. Armando of dkos, no delicate flower he, publicly said that some of the attacks (most notably the "homeschooling" stuff) got too personal.

But you know what? Ben loved the attacks, while he still felt he was untouchable. When the column was still going strong, he reveled in it. He proclaimed to the world, thanks, I love the free publicity. I have no doubt that he welcomed it as some sort of Malkinesque moment to show how unhinged the liberals can be.

It was only after he was forced to resign over the plagiarism issue that he started to have a problem with all the "hate mail and death threats." I'm certainly not going to take his word for anything other than stuff I've seen with my own two eyes, considering he made the allegation in the exact same posting where he claimed P.J. O'Rourke gave him permission, et al.

I will make you a deal, von. When I see one RedStater with comparable heft to Armando repudiate Thomas's statements:

I repeat: Should the entire American Left fall over dead tomorrow, I would rejoice, and order pizza to celebrate. They are not my countrymen; they are animals who happen to walk upright and make noises that approximate speech. They are below human. I look forward to seeing each and every one in Hell.

then at that point, and only then, will I start to feel bad about the meanness of a small minority of the people that Ben's site would love to see dead.

"Any links to examples of these baseless and odious attacks? I feel guilt much better with somnething concrete."

I would go Tim one further- you've accused not just a small minority, but *almost everyone on the left* except hilzoy (perhaps careless phrasing?) of baseless smearing. And haven't backed it up one iota.

I believe that we are reading different internets. On the internets I read, objecting to smears of MLK and to a comparison of the USSC to the KKK does not count as 'baseless, odious attacks'. I also saw a few people (intentionally?) misinterpreting a quote taken out of context- something that is over the line, but certainly not practiced by 'virtually the entire left'.
(otoh, you feel that Catsy's apparently justified rebuke is uncalled for, so perhaps in this case you feel that even pointing out Domenech's admitted flaws and failing to forgive him is over the line... but you enjoy *Domenech's* smearing style of prose enough that you look forward to his return. Curious, that.)

I am not looking forward to Domenech's return. I am looking forward to some other young conservative writer getting his shot, someone who 1)has a shred of integrity (ie isn't a liar and a plagiarist) 2)prefers reasonable discourse to baseless attacks and smears & 3) gets the job on talent and effort rather than family or political connections.
There is really nothing in this guy's story to admire. Im with Geek- I honestly hope he grows up, but for now he's a pretty pitiful creature.

... there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

Sorry, Domenech is the guilty one, not me, and not "the left", or the left minus Hilzoy. "The left" is not responsible for whatever insanity you've dredged up from Democratic Underground or the Atrios comments. I think some bloggers went overboard with the racism charges, but then you're going overboard yourself by blaming all of us who had nothing to do with whatever it is you're concerned about.

Domenech did wrong, and he's getting what he deserves. I see no reason to feel worse for him than for anyone else in that situation, and I certainly don't feel guilty about it.

There's a recommended diary on RedState now titled "Deviancy defined downward, again." Surprisingly (okay, not really) it's not about RedState's reaction to Domenech's plagiarism.

God the I am blinded by all the halos shining in this place. You would think nobody ever did anything wrong, or something that they aren't too proud of.

Grow up, you guys are sitting in judgement, and putting yourselves on pedestals nobody belongs on.

The reality is that he is young, and did something stupid, and is paying a reasonable price for what he did. He lost his job-nothing like getting fired at 24 (and it is pretty clear he wasn't going to have any choice but resign).

So what punishment are you demanding beyond this? Should he be forever villified? Should he never get a job again (although he would obviously be suitable to run for office, since plagiarism by congressmen and senators don't matter-shoot murder by senators don't matter).

Frankly I agree with Von 95% of the people when first confronted with something they did wrong are going to deny it, or make an excuse.

I hope you guys learn the very humility you want Augustine/Ben to learn, because all I see are bunch of puffed up blowhards (with a few exceptions).

I actually feel sorry for "Augustine" as well and said as much on RedState (I tend to like most people, even those I disagree with vehemently), but I can't help but wonder what the response would be were the shoe on the other foot? How the Red blogs blasted Kos for his disrespectful comment about the mercenaries killed in Iraq gives us one indication (i.e., it was also odious), but more than that, the thing I've learned over the past 5 years is that those in power only ask for common ground when they're behind...when they have what they see as capital, they'll trample over everyone they find in their path to do what it is they want. From all I've read of Ben's prose, I find no reason to separate him from the crowd (insert plagarism joke here), so I'm at a strange place.

My gut response is to forigve the guy and look forward to his second act, but I can't help but fell he himself would interpret that as a sign of weakness on my part and would never respond in kind where the situation reversed. The way Krempasky couldn't acknowledge Ben's error without going to great lengths to criticize the left, for example (Note: contrition only counts when one accepts the blame without bellyaching), suggests otherwise.

I didn't really think the previous poster would have the courage to attack liberals for having the audacity to sit in judgment, and then just a few paragraphs later bring up Ted Kennedy. But I was wrong!

Hilzoy's Bill Clinton analogy grows more and more apt by the day. People who have no compassion for Clinton whatsoever are suddenly saying "of course a person is going to lie when confronted with something embarassing, have a heart!"

I don't think we do our friends or our country any favor when we give people a free pass just because they happen to be our ideological comrades. Forgiveness is commendable. Instant forgiveness should be left to God.

Edward_, I can understand forgiving the guy (if you assume his contrition is sincere), but why would you look forward to his second act? There are thousands of skilled writers out there that might deserve attention. How about we give all of them a first shot before giving Ben a second?

The "second chance" proponents are reminding me of Marion Barry supporters. Of course, there are enough of them that he got his second chance as mayor and then a third chance as a councilman.

God the I am blinded by all the halos shining in this place. You would think nobody ever did anything wrong, or something that they aren't too proud of.

(...)

I hope you guys learn the very humility you want Augustine/Ben to learn, because all I see are bunch of puffed up blowhards (with a few exceptions).

Heal thyself, etc. I hope you understand the irony of getting all puffed up and self-righteous in order to condem someone else's puffery and self-righteousness.

Have I done wrong in my life? Hell, yeah. I've done plenty to be ashamed of, and I've paid my dues. That doesn't prohibit me from criticizing others when they've done wrong. I'm also, yanno, not the guy who built a career on stealing from others and spent the last two days letting his friends twist in the wind defending those lies, so it's not my life that's on trial here.

Now, to knock down the straw men you've so kindly erected for us.

So what punishment are you demanding beyond this?

None.

Should he be forever villified?

No, but neither should he be held up as some kind of martyr of the left's inherent nastiness and given a hero's welcome for coughing up some contrition at the eleventh hour, which is what's happening over at Redstate and, to a much lesser extent, here in Von's post.

Should he never get a job again

Not as a journalist, no.

Words are a writer's stock in trade. Plagiarism is the literary equivalent of malpractice by a doctor. A pattern of malpractice like Domenech's pattern of plagiarism would, at a minimum, cost a doctor their license to practice. It wouldn't stop them from getting a job where the nature of their crime was unrelated to the job at hand, and Domenech shouldn't be penalized in seeking a job where the originality of his creative works are not relevant. In fact, if he's smart he could parley this into a great career in writing rap music.

Dang, it's a veritable lumber yard in here!

Instant forgiveness should be left to God.

Not a Christian are you? You do realize that Christians are told to be forgiving. Granted the worldview of what forgiveness is, and Christian forgiveness are often a bit off.

Also, why all the judgement on whether his apology is good enough? What more does he owe you anyway? As a matter of fact what does he owe you, how were you the harmed party here?

And I am honest when I ask, what exactly is the appropriate punishment here? The guy lost his job, and I suspect he will lose his job with the publishing house, does he have to pay something further to make you happy? What is it exactly?

And the self righteousness around here does abound, go reread some of the posts-you guys are condemning Ben when you have a giant plank in your own eye with regards to humility.

I dunno, von. I hadn't followed Ben/Augustine's writings all that closely before this came up, so I may just be missing something. But here are the facts as I see them:

A privileged kid makes his way on the college paper, and then on to whatever stint he did at NRO, etc., on the basis of a combination of connections, deception, being decent though not great with words, and (I assume) personal charm. Jobs come easily to him, and rather than thinking he should either not take such jobs or taking himself to have an extra responsibility to do them well, to retroactively make it the case that he would have gotten them without connections, he lies and steals some more.

Meanwhile, he posts a lot of things that are striking for their self-righteousness and their willingness to smear other people. As a result of all these things, he gets a high-profile job at the Post, and rather than stopping to ask himself whether all this stuff will come out, and if so what he's going to do about it, he takes it. He is then caught, whereupon his first instinct is to lie to his supporters and blame other people. Finally, when it's unavoidable, he fesses up.

That seems to me to be the outline. Now my bid for a Karnak, aka my best guess as to the backstory, which should be taken as the total guess it is. I should also note one possible source of bias: as a privileged kid myself, I have Views about how one should deal with this that are not hypothetical, and about which I feel strongly, in the way one feels strongly about things that one has dealt with oneself. That said:

I see a kid who used his connections throughout his adult life. You can't always just turn down every job where you think those connections might have played some sort of role (sometimes you don't in any way try to use them, but still suspect that your employer's attitude towards you, and/or decision to hire you, might be affected by them, and refusing to take any job where that's the case is, I think, sometimes too much to ask*), but, as I said above, where you don't, you have (it seems to me) a responsibility to be aware that what has happened is prima facie unfair, and to do what you need to do to make it the case that the decision to hire you was absolutely the right one. I see no reason to think that he did this.

And that says something about him: a willingness to benefit from facts that give him an enormous advantage over other equally qualified people without doing his best to recognize, let alone live up to, the responsibilities that that imposes. And just helping yourself to the benefits of unfairness without recognizing either the existence of that unfairness or any corresponding responsibilities shows, I think, a lack of character.

When I read some of his uglier comments, I also think: this sounds like someone who is taken in by the fun of being a connected guy on the "right" side, but who doesn't stop to consider that the people he attacks are actually people. I mean: it can be a lot of fun to feel that you're crusading on the side of the angels, with the moral wind at your back. It can lead you to say really lousy things about people on the other side, if you allow yourself to get carried away by the fun, and don't stop to think about what you're actually doing. This, again, does not make me think particularly well of him.

And then there's the business of his stringing his friends out to dry when this first broke. I do not underestimate the difficulty of coming clean at a moment like this. I really don't. (I have mentioned before the horrible moment when I knocked a glass bottle off a sixth-story windowsill and had to steel myself to go down to see whether I had killed anyone. It was truly horrible.)

However, there was, really, quite enough time for him to steel himself and fess up, at least to his friends and family and co-bloggers, between when this started to break and when he must have told at least the RedState editors that he hadn't done anything wrong, that there was an explanation for everything. There really was. He did not have to let them go out on a limb for him and end up looking foolish, or let his Dad say how proud he was. And that, too, makes me think: this is not a guy with a lot of character. This is a person who is, when push comes to shove, selfish and immature.

Moreover, he didn't just let his friends defend him; he himself blamed other people -- e.g., the nameless editor who supposedly inserted the borrowed material. And that's just wrong.

While I think I understand at least part of his story, and thus don't feel anything like 'Egads! a moral monster in our midst!', I do not find myself feeling particularly sympathetic to him. Partly, I think, that's because there are a lot of people in this story who have prior claims on my sympathy, like the RedState editors who did not leap to the attack, the people he vilified in his posts, and the aforementioned nameless editor.

Partly, though, it's because I don't think that sympathy is really what he needs right now. Again, if I had to guess, he has had a lot of sympathy over the years. What he needs is to acknowledge that there are standards that you can't game or charm, standards that every adult ought to try to live up to, and that he has just violated. So I'm not sure that people who extend sympathy to him are necessarily doing him any favors.

On some level, I'm reminded of the scene in 'Quiz Show' in which Charles van Doren confesses to having lied -- a much more impressive confession, and a much fuller acceptance of responsibility, than Domenech made -- and everyone starts applauding, until one Senator says:

"I'm happy that you've made the statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. See, I don't think an adult of your intellegence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth."

In that scene, I thought that van Doren had finally decided to step up and not be the golden boy everyone thought he was, and thus that there was something horrifying about the ovation he started to get -- some sense that he had finally tried to make his escape, only to find that the thing he was trying to escape from was one step ahead of him. As people started to clap for him, and then stand, I kept thinking: no, stop, please don't do that -- as much for van Doren as for anyone.

I don't see any evidence that Domenech has gotten to the point of wishing, on any level, that the applause would stop. But I feel sort of the same way about the comments about how wonderful it is that he has come clean. I don't think it does him any favors.

I believe in second acts. But I also believe that they work best when the first act has come to some sort of real resolution. I wish him the best, but I don't think the best will be easy, nor do I think that it will help him get there if people continue to extend to him the sort of special treatment that he seems to have relied on.

***

* For instance: I believe that when I got my first philosophy job, one of the people in my department was unduly impressed by what I think of as The Fact Of Dad. This person was generally unreasonable: he raised objections to hiring all sorts of people for no reason that I could ever understand, though one part of it was that he was generally against hiring anyone whom he could perceive as a threat.

One part of his unreasonableness was massive snobbery, which meant that while other people who were perfectly good were dismissed as not good enough for him (no one was good enough for him), I was instead seen as some sort of trophy or proof of something. (I mean: apparently, before I arrived, he used to say: I'd like to see the administration try to push us around now that we've hired X's daughter! -- Which is absurd on its face: I mean, why should the administration care about a retired administrator at another university entirely?)

The Fact Of Dad might be seen as just defusing his general unreasonableness, allowing the other people to decide, for once, on the merits. But other people didn't get the luxury of having his unreasonableness defused. This was, I think, unfair.

Still, in this case I had done everything I could to be the best candidate for the job. The job-seeking system was generally fair. I was not trying to capitalize on any unfairness, and had not in any way tried to produce this response in him. I didn't think that fairness required that I turn down the job just because he had this bizarre attitude. That would, I thought, make my professional life hostage to other people's attitudes in an unreasonable way. But I did think I had an extra responsibility to make the decision to hire me be the right one.

"Save for our own Hilzoy, who characteristically took the high road, there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud."

Gee, thanks, Von. Now quote me one word I said about the guy before the plagiarism charge.

And now you've indicated that generalizations about "the right" are things you approve of.

I disagree.

Unlike others, I don't need examples of odious attacks on Domenech. I'm sure they exist. And if you'd simply said that there were many of such, and condemned those that made them, I'd not complain.

But you didn't. That's not what you said. You instead choose to say this: "there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud."

That's not just condemning those who made odious attacks, however many people did: how many did, do you estimate?; obviously you can't be exact, but give us a range, since you are specifying that "there aren't a lot on the left" who did not -- so you must have at least a proportion in mind, being a lawyer, and all, and careful in choice of language).

Obviously you feel the proportion of those on the left is over 70%; 60% of the left couldn't possibly be "n[ot] a lot," right?

No, you've specifically condemned all but "not a lot of" people on the left, and indicated that with the exception of Hilzoy, "a lot on the left" have something to be ashamed of.

I'm on the left. You've said I have something to be ashamed of.

I do not. And I know of no reason to agree that rather than that a few on the left may have made unjustified attacks on Domenech (and I have no idea how few: 20? 50? 500? I have no idea. But I'm sure it's not 50,000, or 500,000, or 5,000,000, and I'm sure it's not most).

So now you've said something you shouldn't walk away from feeling proud of having said, having slurred most on the left with no cause or basis.

Unnecessary. And I'm personally offended; I'm just fine with my behavior in this matter. For you to imply otherwise: you have no basis, sir.

Uhmm…

"But here are the facts as I see them:

A privileged kid makes his way on the college paper, and then on to whatever stint he did at NRO, etc., on the basis of a combination of connections, deception, being decent though not great with words, and (I assume) personal charm. Jobs come easily to him,"

You do know those aren't actually "facts" don't you? Conjecture yes. But facts?


God the I am blinded by all the halos shining in this place. You would think nobody ever did anything wrong, or something that they aren't too proud of.

If you could point me to where you are making a similar statement at a right of center site in defending someone on the left at the receiving end of some response to a claimed outrage so as to show us how it's done, I'm sure we would all appreciate it and be suitably impressed.

So what punishment are you demanding beyond this? Should he be forever villified? Should he never get a job again (although he would obviously be suitable to run for office, since plagiarism by congressmen and senators don't matter-shoot murder by senators don't matter).

Simply pointing out that he's getting what he deserves is not advocating some punishment. It's not like we are putting him on a box holding electrodes or strapping him to a board and submersing him in water based on the word of some informant. And if you've got any examples of people on this board defending senators who murdered someone, I would love to see that as well.

Catsy pointed out that a journalist (despite Ben's denial that he was a journalist) lives by his or her words, so pretending that someone else's words are their own is a lot worse than a politician who uses a colorful anecdote or a joke in one of their speechs that they cribbed from someone else (which might have not even been him, but his speechwriter, given that Ben worked as a speechwriter for Coryn and Tommy Thompson). Your argument is akin to discovering a doctor who substituted a generic medicine and charged for the brand version and arguing a parallel is your wife using the store brand of mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip, so stop beating up on the guy.

But that is probably me just being all puffed up with pride, so I look forward to some examples or links to your humility so I, nay, all of use, can learn. Failing that, actually quoting the sections of the posts that you find prideful might be a better strategy so that we can see where we are going off the rails. If you are interested in actually changing minds.

And the self righteousness around here does abound, go reread some of the posts-you guys are condemning Ben when you have a giant plank in your own eye with regards to humility.

So...I have little to no humility because I judge Nomenech's actions but you are dripping with humility inspite of passing judgement on my actions?

If you want a moritorium on judgement you may want to start with yourself.

Not a Christian are you? You do realize that Christians are told to be forgiving. Granted the worldview of what forgiveness is, and Christian forgiveness are often a bit off.

See, the great thing about Christianity is that it's not a fundamentalist religion. Two people can disagree about what it says. If you truly believe that when someone lies to you repeatedly, then says they're sorry when they finally get caught in the lie, Christianity requires that you forgive them instantly and give them a completely free pass on the lies, then I accept that as your view of Christianity. But don't accuse me of not being a Christian just because I don't agree.

To me, being forgiving means that you realize bad acts do not make a bad person. It means you give people the benefit of the doubt, and an opportunity to redeem themselves. It doesn't mean you continue to condemn them 50 years after the fact, as conservatives are all too happy to do to Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy. It doesn't mean that if you want to raise your kids not to lie, you let them lie and lie till they get caught and then forgive them the moment they own up to it.

Oh, you instantly forgave Bill Clinton once he apologized, right? You objected to the continuing attempts to persecute him, didn't you?

In theory, conservativism is the ideology of personal responsibility. In practice, it seems to me, conservatism is the ideology of personal responsibility unless and until a conservative does something wrong.

The fact is, neither you nor I has a say in what will happen to Ben down the road. But his supporters seem to have a great deal of trouble accepting that what happened to him was HIS responsibility, and not the responsibility of those mean old liberals or anyone else. Whatever consequences he may face down the road, and those are not up to me, are HIS responsibility.

I don't think you even see the irony in accusing us of standing in judgment, and then simultaneously DEMANDING that we pass judgment by telling you what further punishment we think he deserves.

Simply pointing out that he's getting what he deserves is not advocating some punishment.

No, but it does appear to be gloating.

Also, I haven't argued that losing his job is an inappropriate consequence. And I suspect he will lost his other job.

As for the humility-

Go reread some of the posts here, there are criticism that his apology isn't good enough. Who are you to judge whether his apology is good enough? Who are you to sit in judgement on whether he has met your standard for forgiveness? That is my point. You guys-and not all of you-are demanding something that I am not even sure is owed to you, and deciding that it isn't good enough.

And frankly, my first post said pretty clearly that none of us is perfect, and none of us belongs on a pedestal, I recognize that I am human-at this point it is a bit sickening to see people take pride in somebody else's fall, and demand more.

"You do know those aren't actually 'facts' don't you? Conjecture yes. But facts?"

Obviously Hilzoy knows that "the facts as I see them" are conjecture, yes. She didn't say "facts" with no context. She said "the facts as I see them."

Quoting a single word out of context without regard to the meaning of the context is called "quoting out of context."

It's generally not considered a legitimate argumentative technique. I do presume, though, that you used it in haste and without thinking, not maliciously and with conscious forethought.

People who have no compassion for Clinton whatsoever are suddenly saying "of course a person is going to lie when confronted with something embarassing, have a heart!"

Steve, there's a difference, there, and it involves being under oath. It's not a small difference.*

As for the odious comments, I would include the following:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/22/104154/380

http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/2/7/232743/2784

http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/3/24/12179/8661

http://www.redstate.com/story/2006/3/22/155745/257

Of course, some of those comments implicitly accuse me of being a racist as well, so I'm not sure if they're Domenech-specific.**

von

*By the way, I'm not excusing the prosecutor's conduct with Clinton. Indeed, I was in a deposition of a witness (not my own) not too long ago in an extremely high stakes piece of litigation -- a case with so much intrigue and so many interesting little quirks that it could quite easily be assumed to be a novel. (Most cases can't.) A question was asked of the witness regarding a visit that she paid to the house of her boss: basically, could she describe the place. She said, not really: she arrived late at night and left early the next morning and didn't see much. There were plenty of reasons for her to be nervous before, but the tension in her voice in providing her answer was palpable. If she was asked the next question, it was clear (to me) that she was going to lie. The examining attorney -- my opponent -- looked up, looked down, and changed the subject. It was to his great credit, in my mind.

**I disagreed with his CSK comment, though I can't recall whether I noted it at the time. Indeed, I disagree with more than a few Domenech's views, and tend to think that the Republican party could do a lot better job listening to African American concerns. There's no evidence that (and no grounds to call) the guy a racist, however.

at this point it is a bit sickening to see people take pride in somebody else's fall, and demand more

Who, exactly, is "demanding more"? Specific quotes, please.

"Steve, there's a difference, there, and it involves being under oath. It's not a small difference."

There's a legal difference, sure. Is there also a sufficient moral difference, such that one type of lie should be instantly forgiven the moment the liar is caught and apologizes, and the other type of lie is irredeemable, years and years after the fact?

See, the great thing about Christianity is that it's not a fundamentalist religion. Two people can disagree about what it says. If you truly believe that when someone lies to you repeatedly, then says they're sorry when they finally get caught in the lie, Christianity requires that you forgive them instantly and give them a completely free pass on the lies, then I accept that as your view of Christianity. But don't accuse me of not being a Christian just because I don't agree.

Really, now. Whether you "forgive" him is up to you; I admit to being partial in that area towards my friends and biased towards my enemies. What can't be disputed, however, is that Domenech has paid a heavy price for his past misdeeds, and he's going to continue paying that price for some time.

Now, onward to something else.

See, the great thing about Christianity is that it's not a fundamentalist religion. Two people can disagree about what it says. If you truly believe that when someone lies to you repeatedly, then says they're sorry when they finally get caught in the lie, Christianity requires that you forgive them instantly and give them a completely free pass on the lies, then I accept that as your view of Christianity. But don't accuse me of not being a Christian just because I don't agree.

Actually, Christians are told to be forgiving, even in the absense of apology. Also, forgiveness doesn't mean that what happened is okay or right, it just means you move on. Forgiveness isn't really about the person doing the wrong, it is about the person doing the forgiving.

Oh, you instantly forgave Bill Clinton once he apologized, right? You objected to the continuing attempts to persecute him, didn't you?

Love how you assume things here-but the reality is I don't know that I felt personally wronged enough to need to forgive him. I do think he managed to avoid paying the full price for his actions, but I do think his situation is probably an apt comparison to how people will rally around those they like and not those they don't.

What I can tell you is that I never gloated or felt happy about Clinton's fall. I think what happened was mostly sad for the country, and I actually felt kind of bad for him-much like I do Ben-because of the public aspect of the situation. Most men who are adulterers, don't have their sins plastered on the news nightly.

Hard enough to come to terms with being caught doing something wrong, but to have it happen publically (granted outside of the blogsphere nobody even knows who Ben is, so it isn't exactly the same kind of public) makes it harder. I also think the public aspect of it, leads to the first rounds of denial-I think we all remember the "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" denial. Then as evidence came rolling in, guilt was evident in both situations.

But Clinton apparantly got lots of forgiveness, lots of love, and has a career. I hope you don't withold the ability for Ben to do the same.

As for Kennedy-I don't ever remember his apology for leaving a young woman to drown, but it is possible I missed it given that when he ran for president, I was far more interested in riding my bike to the swimming pool and playing softball.

For that matter, who, exactly, is "taking pride" in Domenech's fall? Specific quotes, please.

Is there also a sufficient moral difference, such that one type of lie should be instantly forgiven the moment the liar is caught and apologizes, and the other type of lie is irredeemable, years and years after the fact?

Yes, Steve. A lie in a judicial system has the potential to work a massive injustice, by misaligning the substantial powers of the state against the innocent.

Who are you to judge whether his apology is good enough?

I am a living, breathing human being. I have delivered and received many apologies over the course of my life and some have been very heart felt and genuine while others have been very superficial and condescending. It doesn't take a mind meld with Mr. Domenech to figure out an apology laced with excuses and accusations isn't very genuine.

I might ask you how you concluded some of the commentors in this thread are acting prideful? My guess is your answer would be similar to my answer above. I don't want to put words in your mouth, however, so please feel free to descrbe the process you went through to conclude some of the commentors here have been prideful?

von: There's no evidence that (and no grounds to call) the guy a racist, however.

There's plenty of evidence, it simply isn't conclusive.

What can't be disputed, however, is that Domenech has paid a heavy price for his past misdeeds...

Eh. He's paid a price; how heavy remains to be seen.

and he's going to continue paying that price for some time.

Bollocks.

Or at the very least, assuming facts entirely not in evidence.

No Gary, you are incorrect. The "facts as I see them" isn't synonymous with conjecture. It refers to the subset of facts as know to the person. Conjecture is an inference from incomplete evidence. Hilzoy did not refer to any facts; it was instead the 'conjecture as I see it'.

I won't make any assumptions about why you felt a need to interject a false notion into the conversation.

Von, before you move on, any comment on people's reaction to the last sentence of your second paragraph? Are you standing by it?

I feel kind of bad for him, mainly because it was such an incredibly STUPID thing to go down on. I mean, plagiarizing movie reviews and humor columns, starting for a college paper? What's the point of cheating at your hobby?

I don't wish no-career on anyone, as I've witnessed how much that sucks, but I sure wouldn't hire him for a writing job. Journalism, speechwriting--these are not easy fields to break into. I know firsthand (which is part of why I didn't comment, I can never separate the "but I could do so much better and it's flatly unimaginable that I'd get that opportunity" from righteous condemnation of the Stephen Glasses and Ben Domenechs of the world.) Even without the plagiarism thing it was a pretty ridiculous decision for the Washington Post to make.

The right wing "press" being what it is I suspect he'll do just fine. I like his chances of future circulation and influence as a writer somewhat better than my own. Well, whatever. I don't particularly look forward to his second act, but it's not high on my list of priorities.

What does make me sad about this is that for all their higher aspirations, the thing weblogs seem to be most effective at is getting their political opponents fired. But it was pretty richly deserved in this case, I don't think it was so dishonorable.

To finally grow up is a gut wrenching, near death experience
Composed equally of failure and consequences
And it comes to you not with grace and compassion
But with a knife, with a bludgeon, with your death it’s only purpose.

Yes, even you, the twisted, scared, pain blasted child
Of circumstance and thoughtless existence, you
Who thought that you were good enough, special enough,
Wonderful enough, to not care, not see, not KNOW the rule.

The rule is simple - if you choose to dance, you have to pay the Piper.
And there you were, completely the fool, thinking the Piper
Piped for free - no need to feel another’s pain, illness, anger, despair.
You were wrong; the Piper always gets his pound of flesh.

The Piper pipes with joy as he tears out hearts, and the pipes are
Rapturous as he eats black and old and cracked and
Stinking of corruption hearts - your heart. The Piper
Craves your heart with a passion nearly alive.

And it was a vast and selfish passion that led you
Down this path to the end of your existence, wasn’t it? It is good
That existence ends. You led not the life of a human being, but the life of a
Beast of prey. Now you are prey, and the Piper’s breath is upon you.

Like a killing frost, like the blast from a volcanic vent, that breath is killing you.
The Piper is an eater of lives, and yours is forfeit to him. Or not.
The Piper takes with one cruel hand but is compelled to offer with another.
To offer another life, a life infinitely more difficult than the one you threw away.

Will you choose that life? Will you choose never ending work and
Constant uncertainty? Or will you choose emotional death,
Leaving only the husk of a might have been human being?
Can you give yourself to the Piper?

The Piper will eat you, and if you are strong enough, you will awaken.

Young Ben has been given an opportunity that usually comes to us much later in life. I hope he grasps the lesson. If he does, we will all be the better for it.

Jake

"Now, onward to something else."

I'd prefer an apology, first. Up to you, of course, if you don't feel you need to, and if you feel that it's fine to say that I shouldn't "walk away from this one feeling proud."

But I'm not inclined to blithely move "onward" after being personally insulted, when the person who insulted me shows no signs of awareness of having made the insult of me and my fellows.

I wrote a great many comments on Domenech yesterday. None before. Quote me those I shouldn't "walk away from [...] feeling proud," please. Or consider withdrawing your slur, please.

Who are you to judge whether his apology is good enough?

God.

Go reread some of the posts here, there are criticism that his apology isn't good enough. Who are you to judge whether his apology is good enough? [...]

Oh, please. Enough of the sanctimonious "who are you to..." constructions. It was unintentionally ironic the first time. The second was irritatingly self-righteous. Now it's just tiresome and entirely without substance.

I've also seen you repeat--three times, I think--the question of why his apology isn't "good enough". I don't know who you're responding to there, but I can at least say with confidence that it isn't me. I've never said a word about his apology not being "good enough" (good enough for /what/, I'm not certain, since you haven't specified).

What I have said is that his apology is undeserving of the kind of praise and adulation that's been heaped on him, because it was given only after he had spent days lying about the matter to everyone and was finally confronted with irrefutable evidence of his perfidy. He exacerbated this further when his first "apology" post was nothing more than another attempt at lying, spinning, and shifting blame onto others. It demonstrated that he was not interested in owning up to his mistakes and being honest when it mattered, but rather in continuing to cover up what he'd done and let others take the heat for him. Pace Von, I do not think that 95% of us would do this--I would like to think that most people have more basic decency than to publicly embarass their friends and colleagues like Ben did.

It takes great courage to own up to your mistakes when you don't have to. It takes no courage at all to bow to the inevitable with five seconds left on the clock. There's a nontrivial difference there, and between what I said and the way you're misrepresenting it.

I don't expect anything more of Domenech. He had his chance to nut up and do the right thing, and he failed to do so at every step. What you are currently misinterpreting as my demands for more from him are nothing more than insisting that others deal with what he did honestly, instead of lionizing and martyring him and pretending that he did something noble or courageous.

Mac: I wrote: "A privileged kid makes his way on the college paper, and then on to whatever stint he did at NRO, etc., on the basis of a combination of connections, deception, being decent though not great with words, and (I assume) personal charm."

I assume that the deception part is no longer controversial. (Here I specifically meant the plagiarism. I was assuming that his writing for his college paper had some role in his success there, and that that, plus his subsequent writing, had something to do with his getting jobs as a speechwriter and editor.)

That he's decent though not great with words is my take on his writing; of course you can disagree.

The charm I admit up front is an assumption.

That leaves the connections. Here I guess I can only say that I very much doubt that someone with roughly his skill set, adn without a college degree, would have gotten the jobs he did without them. I don't mean that someone actually arranged the jobs for him; it might have been something more like his dad (or he himself) meeting someone at a party and having that person end up saying: well, tell him to come talk to me. That's much more often the way this stuff works, in my experience.

I just don't see him getting all those jobs without the connections. Ymmv, of course.

Who are you to judge whether his apology is good enough?

Someone whose stock in trade is his word. Someone who writes and seeks to persuade by writing. Someone who bears the responsibility of judging the truthfulness of opponents.

[lawyer, not journalist. but the point remains the same. how can i know that Ben actually wrote that apology, as opposed to cribbing it from someone else? the second apology has a very different tone and writing style from the first.]

Hilzoy points to something important--there are real victims in this, and they're the people Domenech used.

There's the former editor of the Flat Hat, who stands accused of perpetrating massive plagiarism, and who needs some apologizing to.

There are also the young men and women who lost out to Domenech because they didn't have his advantages. I wrote a few pieces for the college newspaper and was glad to do it, though I had no desire to make a career in journalism. It's a happy memory. Someone at William & Mary didn't get that experience because Domenech got the space instead, filling it up more than once with stolen words. There's someone out there who might have made an honest as well as productive campaign aide who didn't ge tthe position because their father wasn't in position as Jack Abramoff's fixer in the Interior Department. There are deeply conservative and deeply honest, articulate bloggers out there who might have done well with a shot at the Washington Post. But they're not there in part because Domenech rode in on other people's words.

Conservatives often like to point out that affirmative action can just lead to people being promoted beyond their preparedness and being set up for failure. That's true of thieves, too. It's possible that nobody with a really distinctive budding prose voice or wise insight would have gotten into any of the positions Domenech stole...but I wouldn't want to be too confident of that. At the very least there's the possibility of it. And the people who never got their chance are the real victims in this story.

Mac: I should probably have been clearer. What I meant by 'the fact as I see them' was basically what Gary thought I meant. I was trying to separate out (a) my take on the external story, leaving his psyche out of account, from (b) my much more speculative best guess as to why he did it, and what he's like. I didn't mean to assert that my take on the externals was above dispute, and I'm sorry it came out that way.

Well hilzoy, start with your first word there: privileged. Why do you assume that? I have no idea what his families income or wealth might be. Maybe he's rich and connected. Maybe is family hurting for money. Maybe he's precocious, hard charging and personable, who through hustle and charm made his own connections. Maybe his life is all silver spoons. Who knows? It's all conjecture.

I'm already getting bored with this story and am ready for Mr. Domenech to slink off and do his penance at Heritage or Cato or wherever disgraced wingers go to rehabilitate themselves. But I really don't like this attempt to fix the new conventional wisdom as "You lefties should be ashamed of yourself," while simultaenously excusing away the nonstop cavalclade of douchebaggery, whining, self-pity, and eliminationist threats that has been Red State for the past several days. Was some of the language on the left blogs over-the top and unnecessarily nasty, even while their underlying points were correct? Sure. But at least they were right. The Red Staters were both assholes and wrong on the facts.

Von,
Here are the comments you suggested we read
Daily Kos by a 'georgia10'

Matt Stoller at MyDD

Matt Stoller 2

Trevino at Redstate

Stoller's first piece is linked to Blanton's Redstate piece on the King funeral. Stoller2 points out that another Redstate editor helped draft the Georgia poll tax initiative. How these relate to the question of Ben, I don't see, unless everytime Matt Stoller gets angry at a person on the right, this somehow leaves "us on the left" unable to render any judgement.

The Kos one is 'advice' for Ben, which I think is pretty much a tradition (I seem to remember a lot of 'advice' columns from the right) and it's by someone I've never heard of before. The only plausible one that I can see is the homeschool rant, but given that Domenech seems to be an ID supporter, while you might decry the vehemence, there is a point there. Surely you must have had more in mind than this? Don't tell me that a lawyer has such a tender constitution? ;^)

The above response was typed prior to your clarification hilzoy.

But Clinton apparantly got lots of forgiveness, lots of love, and has a career. I hope you don't withold the ability for Ben to do the same.

I do not. Nor, I think, does anyone here. I think people have more of a problem with giving someone a free pass the very instant they admit to lying; indeed, in some cases, people were happy to give Ben a free pass both before and after he confessed. In all honesty, I just don't think that that does him any favors, as a human being.

Catsy said: "It takes great courage to own up to your mistakes when you don't have to. It takes no courage at all to bow to the inevitable with five seconds left on the clock. There's a nontrivial difference there, and between what I said and the way you're misrepresenting it." While I don't agree with the "no courage at all" part, I do agree that there is a nontrivial difference.

As for Kennedy-I don't ever remember his apology for leaving a young woman to drown, but it is possible I missed it given that when he ran for president, I was far more interested in riding my bike to the swimming pool and playing softball.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, actually. The victim's mother said she found his apology acceptable and that she didn't think he should resign his Senate seat, which I find to be about the ultimate example of Christian forgiveness. To most on the right, though, it's still a fitting subject for cheap shots nearly 40 years later.

In my post above, I had mentioned Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy side-by-side. I notice you didn't say anything at all about Byrd, who most certainly has apologized over and over again, although what he did in his youth was terrible (and certainly much worse than plagiarism). I don't agree with those who seem to find him irredeemable, and I certainly don't agree with those who decide whether he is redeemable based upon the political party he chooses to belong to.

Yes, Steve. A lie in a judicial system has the potential to work a massive injustice, by misaligning the substantial powers of the state against the innocent.

Von: You can't possibly be arguing that this statement has any applicability to Clinton's actual lie, right?

Clinton lied to spare himself embarassment. It's hard to see how the lie could have had any bad effects beyond that; it's hard to see how the lie could even be considered material to the case he was testifying in.

Domenech's lies, on the other hand, in which he repeatedly accused his former editors of inserting plagiarized material into his works, had much more potential to hurt someone else than Clinton's lies did. Those weren't under oath, but I still don't see how that is a moral distinction as opposed to a purely legal one.

Mac: by 'privileged' I didn't necessarily mean 'rich'. I meant: in the class of people for whom things come easier than they do for most people. Consider the story I posted a few days ago, about how credit card companies routinely clean up the credit ratings of certain people, so that they won't have to go through the normal credit hassles that come with having a less than perfect credit rating, and thus won;t see what that's like, and thus won't have any incentive to fix any problems they might otherwise have encountered.

Assume for the sake of argument that that group includes lawmakers. Congresspeople are not paid exorbitant amounts of money, really. But in this one respect, their lives are made an awful lot easier.

If these things sorted randomly, so that one group of people got to skate through credit checks, and another never had to worry about overdrafts at the bank, and a third group had jobs magically appear, and so forth, but everyone ended up with some unfair benefit or other, then I would not speak of 'privileged' people. But in fact, they tend to clump together, so that there are people much of whose lives are eased in one way or another, and a lot more people who have to live the normal way. Sometimes one bit of the normal package is absent. (Congresspeople: huge salaries.) Some people with huge salaries don't have many other privileges. But this does not, imho, invalidate the phrase.

I was using 'privileged' to mean: someone whose life includes a lot more of those credit-rating-cleaning-up sorts of things than the average. Someone whose life is a lot easier than that of other similarly gifted people, for reasons other than that person's own effort. Money is often part of it, but it's neither necessary nor sufficient. And I think it's pretty clear that Domenech was, in that sense, privileged.

As far as the complaints about nastiness on the left go: I'm ready to entertain the whining of the collective right half of the blogosphere on this count when they make even a token effort at setting their own house in order. As it stands, I'm willing to bet a full week's pay that you could stack up the entire sum total of every "baseless" and "odious" attack that Domenech suffered this week from the left... and it wouldn't hold a candle to the volume of bile and eliminationism that pours out of Free Republic, LGF, the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, Rush Limbaugh, or Anne Coulter. Seriously: pick any one of those, and I'm betting you they will match the entire left half of the blogosphere for sheer vileness. I'll put /anything/ said on the left half of blogistan about Domenech, sight unseen, up against Thomas's expressed desire to see the entire "American Left" die, and Tbone's even more sociopathic follow-up.

No, the community of Redstate, as a whole, apparently only cares about incivility and personal attacks in blogland or politics insofar as it was their golden boy who was being gored. I'm sure there are exceptions, because I've seen some of them post there and get shot down, but they're either in the minority or they're keeping their heads down to avoid being banned.

do not. Nor, I think, does anyone here. I think people have more of a problem with giving someone a free pass the very instant they admit to lying;

To make note of the free pass Clinton gets on his lie, just read above Steve's points.

One thing that always bothered me about the Clinton affair, is that the left apparantly thinks lying under oath is justified, if it is to save yourself from embarrassment.

Not to mention that Clinton then lied again on national TV.

Then he obfuscated-the whole "meaning of is, is" stuff.

But apparantly his lie is understandable, and justified.

Maybe the real problem is the left and right are so determined to destroy the other side, that they get blinded to the faults of those in their own party.

As for Byrd I don't care for his politics.

I wrote a great many comments on Domenech yesterday. None before. Quote me those I shouldn't "walk away from [...] feeling proud," please. Or consider withdrawing your slur, please.

Gary, though my grammar may have left something to be desired, I did not intend to leave a null set after removing Hilzoy. I was specifically thinking of the Kos and MyDD posts, referenced above.

just me:
You're misreading Steve pretty badly. He doesn't give Clinton a 'free pass' (whatever that is) or say that Clinton's lie was justified; he only points out that (apparently contra Von) it can't be said to have caused further injustice in any significant sense. You can agree with that or not, but in any case it does not follow that Steve was excusing or defending the lie itself.

Similarly for your uselessly broad generalization about "the left." In fact, I doubt you can find me an actual quote from anyone, left or right, stating or implying that "lying under oath is justified, if it is to save yourself from embarrassment."

Maybe the real problem is the left and right are so determined to destroy the other side, that they get blinded to the faults of those in their own party.

This I can agree with, if you replace "the left and right" with "some on the left and right."

Of course Clinton's lie is understandable, for the exact same reason Domenech's lies are understandable. I've just listened to dozens of RS posters tell me how understandable it is when someone gets caught and their first reaction is to lie.

That doesn't mean it's "justified," mind you. I don't know a lot of people on the left who were inclined to give Clinton a free pass the moment he owned up to his lie. In fact, they thought what he did was pretty awful. I don't see anyone at RS other than a tiny, occasionally-banned minority even acknowledging that what Ben did was bad. They skip right by that in their haste to attack the left. Even the fair-minded von can't say more than "I won't minimize his errors" before immediately moving on to "the left should be ashamed" and "I look forward to his return."

I don't think the guy deserves sackcloth and ashes, or anything like that. RS doesn't need to ostracize him, but that doesn't mean they can't at least acknowledge that what he did was wrong, in a way that merits more than just a token mention before proceeding to flame the liberals. This type of subject-changing post does, in fact, minimize Ben's errors, even though von said he had no intention to do any such thing.

Other than a full-throated defense of the beauty of plagiarism, I fail to see how Ben's errors could be minimized any more.

justme: I don't see that steve said anything about Clinton's lie being OK because it was meant to save himself embarrassment. He just said that it was hard to see how the lie would have had any further bad effects.

Myself, I think that it's sometimes hard to say which of two lies is worse. You have to make this call when you have to choose between one and the other, which seldom happens, and isn't happening here. In this case we have, on the one hand, the fact that Clinton lied under oath, while Domenech did not, and on the other the fact that Domenech hung people out to dry, blamed others, etc. (Let's not forget that Clinton let other people come to his defense in ways that subsequently made his defenders look foolish, too.) There are bad aspects of each that have no counterpart in the other. I'm not sure I feel a compelling need to decide which is worse.

"Congresspeople are not paid exorbitant amounts of money, really."

Digressing, I'd like to point out that the current salary for both members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. (More in the leadership; Denny Hastert makes $212,100, for instance.)

This is not "exorbitant" ("exceeding in intensity, quality, amount, or size the customary or appropriate limits") by the standards of upper-class jobs or Americans, certainly, but it's "exceeding" what's "customary" for most Americans, I submit.

Personally, I'd be happy to get a tenth of what Hastert makes, and about double my yearly income these days, which would be the largest annual income I'd have ever had in my life at the age of 47. For context.

"But in this one respect, their lives are made an awful lot easier."

And, needless to say, in a huge number of other respects. Just, as I said, to digress, since it's a not insignificant problem in our political system.

Gary, though my grammar may have left something to be desired, I did not intend to leave a null set after removing Hilzoy. I was specifically thinking of the Kos and MyDD posts, referenced above.

If you were had specific examples in mind, you should have referenced them, Von, instead of making sweeping allusions to most of "the left". The way you phrased it came across to me as an attempt to shame us into silence--a way of saying, "yes, what Ben did was bad, but most of you were very mean to him, so you should let it go."

I'm hardly on par with Gary when it comes to anal-retentiveness, but this is a case where imprecision was not your friend. However, I'm willing to accept that this was not your intent.

Gary: that was sort of the point of my third para. in that comment, though on rereading it would have been clearer if I had said: that's credit ratings. There are similar things all over the place. And if they were spread randomly... etc. But some people's lives are just prettied-up credit ratings and their analogs all over.

Macallan,

Given that his father's career background is that of Republican hack, one can surmise that the Domenech clan is not exactly dumpster-diving to put food on the table.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Doug_Domenech

"Gary, though my grammar may have left something to be desired, I did not intend to leave a null set after removing Hilzoy. I was specifically thinking of the Kos and MyDD posts, referenced above."

Please explain how four posts (which LJ has responded about) represent most of the "the left."

You are continuing to stand by "there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud"; you are welcome and invited to withdraw that statement and to submit a revision.

(I miss the days, by the way, when people used to "refer" to things, and not "reference" them, but this has nothing to do with Von; it's a general disease.)

I'm not sure I feel a compelling need to decde which is worse.

Me neither, hilzoy, although if you wanted to propose a rule that says "any lie by the President is automatically worse," I wouldn't necessarily argue.

I don't think anyone needs to decide which is "worse," though. The proposition von and I were debating was this:

Is there also a sufficient moral difference, such that one type of lie should be instantly forgiven the moment the liar is caught and apologizes, and the other type of lie is irredeemable, years and years after the fact?

I personally find it clear that there is not a moral difference of this magnitude. The fact that it is not even intuitively obvious which lie is worse tends to bolster my conclusion.

One thing that always bothered me about the Clinton affair, is that the left apparantly thinks lying under oath is justified, if it is to save yourself from embarrassment.

What else do we Lefties think? What is our favorite flavor of ice cream? I am hoping it is double chocolate.

"What is our favorite flavor of ice cream? I am hoping it is double chocolate."

Wrong, communist!

But we do believe everyone should have a minimal share of ice cream, and an opportunity to earn more.

I stand for a mixed economy for ice cream! Let no sprinkle be left behind!

In our youth it was Rocky Road; now that we've matured, we've come to enjoy Turtle in all its variations, as well as the simple sophistication of an excellent French Vanilla.

I don't know about the rest of your, but Our present favorite flavor of ice cream is Ben and Jerry's One Sweet Whirled.

You. Not your. You.

Fun fact: Apparently, here in the great state of Wisconsin, one can major in Ice Cream. Oh sure, that's not what they call it, but that's what it is.

Anyone feel like a little post-graduate work?

But what about the vegans? Are they not part of the left?

First -- although I think the Domenech's wrong, wrong and the punishment just -- let's not kid ourselves: plagiarism is not the first evil. Indeed, in my position, I deal with wrongdoing every day that far exceeds that of Domenech's.

Isn't this completely irrelevant? No one's accusing Domenech of being "the first evil".

Second, Domenech's reaction -- although disappointing -- is not particularly surprising. Again, I'm undoubtably influenced by my job, but I would say that 95% of folks in Domenech's position (and worse) would react just as he did.

Really? Let's run through this. Domenech routinely plagiarised other people's writing under his own name. As Augustine, he launched odious vicious attacks on his political opponents, and plainly relished getting angry responses. Then, when Domenech's plagiarism is discovered, Domench not only denies it, but bears false witness against others - the editors he worked for, whom he claims are to blame. Finally, when it's clear that he can't just lie and blame others and thus escape the blame he deserves, he admits that he did it, and half-heartedly apologises to the people he traduced and lied to. Now, you may feel that this is exactly what you would have done yourself: that were you in an embarrassing situation, you would not only lie and claim it wasn't you, you'd try to shove the blame on to others. So? Just because you look at Domenech and think "I would have behaved exactly like that, so I can't blame him for doing it" doesn't mean that you can't at least acknowledge that lying about what you did in order to cast blame on other people is just fundamentally wrong. It is, Von, and it's worth saying so.

Third, although part of my dispute with Domenech's worldview is that he has too much faith in the rightness of his own beliefs (aka, pride), I don't judge him by the standards he might have set for others (or me). It matters not to me whether there is irony (or not) in this particular fall.

Okay. You're not an appreciator of irony. But I think that you're in a minority there. ;-)

Fourth, I have to believe that Domenech is not only going to learn a lesson from this mess, but learn the right lesson. If we instantly presume the worst of our fellow folk, we get no where.

How is Domenech going to learn a lesson from this mess when he is surrounded by people applauding him, aggressively defending him, and even attacking people who condemn him for what he did? You are, with this post, part of the reason why it's unlikely Domenech is going to learn the right lesson. The lesson I think he's learning is one he already seemed to be quite well-grounded in: it doesn't matter what he does, all his political allies will forgive him for it.

Finally, I would point to Catsy's and Jes's comments as comments of which, after reflection, I believe that the authors would not be proud.

Why? What did I say that you think I ought to be ashamed of? Your sweeping attacks on anyone saying anything remotely critical of a serial plagiarist, a liar, and a racist, are consistent, at least; your lack of detail about why the people you#re attacking ought to be ashamed is... odd, to say the least.

I'd hope you would regret this post, with its sweeping attacks and nasty insinuations, but somehow I suspect you won't.

Just Me, I'll tell you why Ben owes us an apology.

You can find the major examples here: I link to this source only because I believe it's the only place that hasn't yet written about how they'd like to rape my sister.

That is dear Ben's first word on the matter. He specifically accused lefty bloggers (or at least every lefty blogger who has posted on the subject that he has seen minus Hilzoy) of wanting to rape his sister.

That was his first act of contrition. And now we're all supposed to be pleased as pie that he's since offered contrition for plagiarism.

Von, you said that people like Matt Stoller were at least indirectly accusing you of racism because you post on RedState and he's labeled it a racist blog. Well, check out the above. The left has been uniformly accused of wanting to rape Ben's sister. Minus Hilzoy of course.

Second, I expect Domenech to be back. Moreover, I look forward to his return.

Why? Because he's truly extraordinary?

I have some news for you: there are plenty of honest people in the world who could advocate for conservative ideas without engaging in the smearing and peddling of ignorance and lying the way Ben Domenech did.

Are you not aware of this fact?

Or are you in love with Ben?

I realize that this isn't the universe of explanations but I find it difficult to understand why anyone would want a willfully ignorant liar like Ben Domenech to become a shaper of our country's discourse.

Please explain yourself -- coherently, without misrepresenting the facts about Ben Domenech, his lies, his willful ignorance, and his tendency to engage in smear tactics.

No one's accusing Domenech of being "the first evil".

Of course not, I'm confident that Domenech is capable of affecting the physical world and completely unable to assume the form of Glory, the Mayor, or Buffy, for example.

"And I think it's pretty clear that Domenech was, in that sense, privileged."

It may be clear to you, but I do wonder why hilzoy. Unless you know the Domenech family at a more personal level than I assumed. That doesn't strike me as something we could fairly divine from a distance.

Again, I'm undoubtably influenced by my job, but I would say that 95% of folks in Domenech's position (and worse) would react just as he did.

What is your job? Professional propagandist?

On my planet, most people are genuinely sorry when they get busted point blank engaging in behavior which blatantly violates the "moral codes" which they hypocritically invoked to smear others.

On my planet, people apologize, ask forgiveness, and quietly fade away.

What did Ben do? He attacked the people who he smeared for his profession when they provided the evidence which showed what they knew all along: Ben was a willfully ignorant hypocrite and shill.

Sheesh, folks, he was a freaking Biblical literalist who once claimed that evolution was a crock! On what basis was Ben Domenech, a dropout with a big microphone, qualified to make such statements?

Answer: he didn't have a basis. He was just shooting off.

This is the kind of person you want to spend time defending?

Grow up already.

"But what about the vegans? Are they not part of the left?"

Is there no ice tofu?

I'd hope you would regret this post, with its sweeping attacks and nasty insinuations, but somehow I suspect you won't.

Who says irony is dead?

One thing that always bothered me about the Clinton affair, is that the left apparantly thinks lying under oath is justified, if it is to save yourself from embarrassment.

Ok, I'll go this far for Ben: While he has made mistakes, I do not believe that his errors rise- by any stretch of the imagination- to the level of an impeachable offense.
Fair enough?

Von, not that nowhere in any of the links you provided did the authors come close to anything as odious as accusing Domenech of rapist fantasies.

Now, you may feel that this is exactly what you would have done yourself: that were you in an embarrassing situation, you would not only lie and claim it wasn't you, you'd try to shove the blame on to others. So? Just because you look at Domenech and think "I would have behaved exactly like that, so I can't blame him for doing it" [....]
Quite a leap of logic there, and not a remotely fair one. One quick jump from "may" to that's-what-Von-thinks.

Karnak Award.

"Of course not, I'm confident that Domenech is capable of affecting the physical world and completely unable to assume the form of Glory, the Mayor, or Buffy, for example."

I will forthrightly declare that I believe that the Mayor was much more evil than Ben Domenech.

Michael Hubl: "Grow up already."

This is very rude.

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