Bryan Caplan’s latest post is a great response to some assertions made by Will Wilkinson and Tyler Cowen.

When Michael Kinsley was writing regularly for The New Republic during the first Bush administration, he was brilliant. He usually attacked Bush and made cogent arguments. I found myself agreeing with him a large % of the time. But here’s how I put it to a friend after Clinton had been president for about a year: when Clinton became president, Michael Kinsley’s IQ fell by about 20 points. Michael became a hack.

Of course, I don’t mean that his IQ literally fell 20 points, as, I suspect, Will and Tyler don’t mean their IQ claims literally. What I think we all mean is that certain biases get in the way of clear thinking. So my addition to Bryan’s point is this: I would much rather someone simply judge a policy, by whatever criteria, as long as the person maintains those criteria rather than changing them depending on whether the advocate of the policy has a Rep or a Dem after his name.

So, for example, if it was evil for Bush Jr. to lock people up without a trial, it’s just as evil for Obama to do so. If it’s evil for Obama to extend socialized medicine to higher-income people than had previously been the case, it’s just as evil for Bush Jr. to have extended socialized medicine to prescription drugs. In many of these cases, I might think that the word “evil” is over-used, but it’s still better to use it generally as one’s evaluation of a policy than to use it selectively depending on who is advocating or implementing the policy. I’m advocating simple consistency in making judgments, as I have long done. Our debates would be a lot better if everyone followed the standard I’m advocating.

After writing this, I went back and looked at the comments on Bryan’s post more carefully. Evan had already written essentially what I said.