Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, July 13, 2002




Sullivan, DeLong, and the CDC


I have taken some sniping from readers wondering why, if I disagree with Sullivan‘s post on the CDC, I am also criticizing DeLong for his attack on Sullivan. Can’t tell the players without a scorecard, eh? Let me try to explain. And since no one's d**n archive links seem to working, I may achieve new levels of "cryptosity". Sullivan's post is from Monday, July 8, is titled "Doing the Math", and can be found in his archives (I hope).

Back in 1988 at the famous “What would you do if someone raped your wife” debate with “the Duke”, then Vice-President Bush was asked to name his heroes. Among them was the head of the CDC. Good enough for “Poppy”, good enough for me. OK, I didn’t vote for him in ‘92, but we wasn’t running for Grandfather either. My default setting tips strongly towards people actually working to save lives, so I have no trouble getting behind the CDC.

Since then, the AIDS disaster has politicized the setting of CDC priorities. Within the AIDS budget, how much should be spent on research for treatments versus spending on education and prevention? And how much should be spent on AIDS generally, versus spending on cancer, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, and other killers? Man, you have got me. But I would expect Andrew Sullivan to have a well informed opinion on such questions, and since he is a wildly talented writer, I would expect him to be able to communicate those opinions to me. Furthermore, since I am pretty much a Sullivan bobble-head doll, I would expect to be nodding in agreement with whatever he writes.

However, in his recent post on the CDC, Sullivan offered some statistics that fell way short of the mark. Professor DeLong, in a post that was arguably intemperate, then pummeled Sullivan’s statistics. And do you want to argue statistics with the Professor? I once worked with a fellow so laughably injudicious in selecting his fights that the rap on him was “if he can’t find a strong wind to pee into, he’ll look for an electric fan.” Maybe he wants to grapple with Dr. D. But for my money, Sullivan’s numbers don’t come together, and Dr. D. is right.

So, while Sullivan basks in his rebutting of the Times on their Alaska heat-wave story, perhaps he can offer his fans some support on the CDC front. I am sure he had something he wanted to say - what, Andrew, was it?

So there you have it: The MinuteMan and Dr. D, battling together for Truth and Justice. Whoa. Don’t get used to it.


UPDATE: How do I feel about the CDC and its involvement in gun control, a reader wonders. Didn't Bush Sr. warn against "mission creep"? Put the "D" back in "CDC", guys.

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