I’m late to the Ferguson party, partly because I’ve been travelling, and partly because I can’t easily get past my initial reaction: it’s Ferguson, dudes. Of course he’s a hack, someone
who’s who has been trading on attitude and an accent since he arrived on these shores (and before, of course). But I want to pile on just a little bit, for a reason that I hope will become clear a little later on in this post. (And, as I look at the blog, later still. DennisG’s on it too!)
Still, just to refresh everyone’s memory after a couple of days of Akin folly, Ferguson attempted in the pages of Newsweek to disguise a polemic as an argument for Obama’s replacement by his preferred Ryan-Romney ticket. (Note — I’m not making an error in the order there. Again, wait for it below.) He lists a series of alleged policy failures and promises, now much debunked — Ezra Klein’s more-in-sorrow flensing may be the best place to start, but Fallows, whom John linked, and Krugman, and Delong, and …. hell, perhaps most devastatingly Andrew Sullivan* have managed to shred whatever remains of Ferguson’s reputation. It all gets worse in the “defense” Ferguson (no linky) has vomited up across the Newsweek/Daily Beast site, in which the angry not-so-young man Niall “demolishes” folks like DeLong by complaining that the UC professor hasn’t written his book fast enough for his taste. (See Fallows for a round-up of the derision the belligerant Scot’s second bite at the apple has earned.)
But all of Ferguson’s wind and wheeze can’t mask the underlying reality: he wrote a deliberately deceptive piece and his attempt at defense merely has us pondering which of these British officer fitness reports best applies to him. I’m partial to number 12 (obvious, really), but on reflection, I think I’d go with 5. Number 2 ain’t bad either.
But I digress.
Here I just want to look at one key point. And that is that Ferguson, sorry as he is, is literally the best the Right has got when it comes to intellectual credibility. So it’s worth looking at what now represents the gold standard of rigorous thought on the right.