JON CHAIT'S GENERALIZATIONS ARE BENEATH HIM. I have a good deal of respect for Jon Chait, and I hope this time he'll show me -- not to mention his readers -- some in return by actually engaging my argument, instead of deliberately oversimplifying it to make it easier to knock down. In response to my contention that by describing Joe Lieberman foes as "fanatics" he was throwing down the gauntlet and being uncivil, Chait wrote:

Ah, I see. So before I wrote my column last Sunday, the left-wing blogospere was a placid realm of civilized discourse. The relentless, juvenile name-calling, the imagining of conspiracies between the Democratic Leadership Council, The New Republic, and various corporate lobbies, the fervent belief that monolithic motivations could be imputed to all who were associated with those sinister, back-stabbing institutions--these things all began with my column on Sunday. I see.

Please. Obviously I meant that Chait threw down the gauntlet in the context of this dispute. Chait wrote a column in which he said a lot of very bad things about some people. He didn't provide any evidence for the bad things he said. He didn't identify who they were, though it was obvious who his targets were. Then, when the folks he said bad things about got angry and responded in an equally uncivil manner, he turned around and said that their tone proved his initial point. This is just laughably disingenuous. And now, to top it off, he's arguing that his own name-calling is OK because other people -- again unnamed -- have done it in the past. Er, huh?

To put this as plainly as possible, Chait's column was unacceptable by his own professed rhetorical standards. It was chock full of unproven, overly broad generalizations and riddled with the "relentless, juvenile name-calling" he supposedly deplores -- that is, when it's practiced by others.