Eugene Volokh posts a column from Paul Krugman side-by-side with a response from Neil Cavuto, above which he asks:
OK, so have a look at these two pieces, and ask yourself — based on these articles (rather than based on your preexisting views about Krugman and Cavuto), who comes across as the more trustworthy? The more worth reading? The more thoughtful? The more mature? Who is the more likely to persuade undecided readers? The more likely to make readers on his side feel good about being on his side? The more likely to make readers on the other side doubt, even a bit, their positions? And if the answer to all or nearly all of these questions is Krugman (column one) as opposed to Cavuto (column two, responding to Krugman), then what was the point of Cavuto’s column?
As you might gather, I’m probably more in Cavuto’s political camp than in Krugman’s; and I don’t agree with Krugman on the the issue about which he writes. But I hope that my side can argue more like Krugman and less like Cavuto.
I must say, he’s right. As I noted this morning (although I’m certainly not the first, see Megan‘s post from February 21, for example), I’m constantly astounded that people think they’re getting anywhere by choosing name-calling over reasoning. It may entertain those who already agree with you, which has some value I suppose, but it doesn’t provoke much thought.