Magazine article The Masthead

Will's Views Are Too Useful to Ignore

Magazine article The Masthead

Will's Views Are Too Useful to Ignore

Article excerpt

Disclose as necessary, then judge arguments on their merits.

Maybe I'm ethically obtuse or a blind contrarian, but I have a different response to Van Cavett's concern about George Will's spousal connection with the Dole camp.

1.) It seems to me possible for someone to hold and express opinions independently of the interests of one's spouse. I'm thinking of James Carville and Mary Matalin, Democrat and Republican campaign strategists and now a married couple.

2.) It also seems possible to me that George and his wife may be united in bliss that is intellectual as well as matrimonial, that their attraction is based to some degree on similar political views.

3.) We are talking about opinion writing here, not reporting. Who knows where columnists get their opinions? We're not obliged to take any of them on faith; they must present good arguments to back them up. If their arguments don't ring true to us, we can dismiss them.

Yes, one does tend to rely to some degree on a columnist's judgments, which might well be colored by such connections, but that doesn't seem to me to be necessarily fatal to a column.

4.) It's certainly worth noting in some way that Will has close ties to the Dole camp. For that reason, I would probably have preferred to run the column Van cited, to get that information to the public. It might be worth appending an editor's note to future columns, if that seems relevant, to alert readers to the circumstance.

5.) Will cannot avoid dealing with the Republican campaign and still be a Washington columnist. …

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