Ferguson Returns Fire

Niall defends his article and, on the CBO Obamacare numbers, claims that I don't "understand the issue that well." He says that none of the critics have addressed the substance of the piece – and that it's all a liberal lynch mob. That's insane. He's right that calls for him to be fired are egregious and over-the-top. But the criticism we've run on the Dish is entirely devoted to data.

A word here about friendship and public debate. Many of my peers regard me as unfriendly because I often criticize their arguments with as much aplomb and effect as I can. But I really do not 96208925see public debate between public actors as being in the realm of friendship, a subject I take seriously enough to have written a book on the subject. Friendship, for me, has never rested on a shared ideology or politics. I'm actually a little uncomfortable around people who agree with me. I grew up in a family that never stopped arguing, and no one took it personally when it was about a subject like politics or even religion. I take the Westminster view that you can verbally lacerate an opponent in the House of Commons and still have a few beers with him afterward. I mean absolutely no personal animus. Same with Goldblog.

My friendship with Niall is, from my point of view, unshakable. We became very close at Oxford, and we have shared many intimacies over the years and great, hilarious times. I love the man. I read Corinthians at his wedding and am the godfather of one of his sons. I was honored in both respects. He has an amazing intellect and a record of deep scholarship.

But I have a duty to write when I think he's wrong and why – and it would have been impossible for me to have ignored a cover-story in my own magazine that roiled up the blogosphere. So I have given my response. With all due respect, I think I do understand these issues as well as Niall, having covered and read about them for years. I'm not an expert, but I can't find an expert who agrees with Niall that there are no cost control efforts in the ACA. You can argue they won't work, as I've said. But you cannot argue they don't exist and on that basis say that Obamacare will add a trillion to the deficit. You cannot also monkey around with statistics, get no fact-check and expect no pushback. It isn't personal. Truly.

(Photo: Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard University, speaks at a panel session on day one of the 2010 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. By Nelson Ching/Bloomberg via Getty Images.)