Friday, January 08, 2016

In which Katha Pollitt hands Doug Henwood his ass

I'm a long-time fan of Katha Pollitt and although I have only become aware of him recently, I despise Doug Henwood. So of course I was very interested in Pollitt's review of Henwood's book about Hillary Clinton. And Henwood's response.

Henwood does not hesitate to smear his opponents, whether it's Hillary Clinton or me. And Pollitt calls him out on his blatant bias:
Still, negative rumors and remarks by unfriendly witnesses are given credence by Henwood, while positive ones are dismissed as the dutiful murmurs of flunkies.
And she shows Henwood in true unethical form:
The book has an epigraph from former undersecretary of the Treasury Brad DeLong, who worked on Hillary’s healthcare-reform initiative in the 1990s and wrote a long complaint on his blog in 2003 about her flubbing of that effort (“Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life”). Henwood writes that DeLong didn’t respond to his attempts to find out if he still felt this way, but a minute’s Googling would have revealed that DeLong retracted that view on his blog in 2008 and again in 2015. Today, he writes that Hillary “has been a successful Secretary of State, ran an almost-good-enough presidential nomination campaign, and been an effective Senator.” As a result, he enthusiastically endorses her.
And the best part is that in Henwood's response, he demonstrates exactly what Pollitt was talking about:
Although I use a highly critical 2003 quote from Brad DeLong, which includes the declaration that “Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life” as my epigraph, DeLong now endorses her. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but perhaps the reason that DeLong took down his blog from that era (thank God for the Wayback Machine!) and now disowns the statement is that he’d like a job in a Hillary Clinton administration, probably better than the one he had in Bill’s. 
So when DeLong was trashing HRC he was OK, but now that he praises her, he's a flunky.

Since Henwood is familiar with the Wayback Machine I don't doubt he's familiar with Google. And yet he somehow omits to mention DeLong changed his mind about Clinton. And you have to wonder why - clearly Henwood was ready to dismiss DeLong as a lying opportunist, albeit based on nothing more than "perhaps I'm being cynical." 

I wonder if DeLong will respond to that. I'm familiar with DeLong thanks to his being repeatedly mentioned by Krugman. Krugman has never mentioned Henwood.

Via Twitter I gave DeLong a heads-up about Henwood's low opinion of him and he responded:

What amazes me is that Pollitt refers to Henwood as a friend. Maybe this is a case of Pollitt refusing to see what she doesn't want to see. After all, as she herself admitted:
Observation is my weakness. I did not realize that my mother was a secret drinker. I did not realize that the man I lived with, my soul mate, made for me in Marxist heaven, was a dedicated philanderer, that the drab colleague he insinuated into our social life was his longstanding secret lover, or that the young art critic he mocked as silly and second-rate was being groomed as my replacement. 
Katha you are failing to observe that your friend Doug Henwood is a gigantic asshole.