“The guy is a worm. He’s a worm.”
I find myself falling more in line with Will Wilson’s analysis of the Matt Latimer “loyalty” question than I do with Conor Frieserdorf. One thing that Latimer’s defenders keep arguing is that somehow the former speech writer’s loyalty to “the people” is more important than his loyalty to his former boss, and that the information in his book is somehow valuable for the public good. Maybe we could call this the public goods.
My question is at what point does loyalty to your “team” or to your boss, or to anyone else for that matter, become secondary to loyalty to something else, or to an “abstraction”- to “the people” or “the truth”?
I think it depends, actually. If Latimer has evidence of a crime or some other vital, national-security related information then I think it’s incumbent upon him to divulge that information to the proper authorities. If, however, all Latimer has is a bunch of anecdotes that amount to little more than character assassination and book sales, then he’s probably being motivated more by greed than by a desire to tell the truth.
Since there is little of value in Latimer’s book (that I’ve heard of anyways) beyond stories which paint the former president as an egomaniac, I’d have to qualify Latimer as opportunistic, in it for his own financial gain, and deserving of each and every one of Bill Bennett’s rather colorful descriptors.
Will has a number of good questions for Conor in his post, which you should go read. But this last line says it best:
I was on board when, back at Culture 11, [Conor] criticized loyalty to the conservative movement. Now that he’s criticizing loyalty to people, I’m about ready to jump off this boat.
And so the question becomes, is Latimer a whistle-blower or a scumbag? Or both?
Another thought – if someone in the former administration came out with a book on policy mistakes and laid those mistakes out and said, “Here’s where we went wrong, and here’s what we could have done differently” – I think that would be a perfectly fair, introspective, valuable and justifiable thing to do. Latimer’s book seems to be more a personality piece and a hit piece on his former boss, especially since Latimer – Like McClellan before him – was not involved in policy so much as PR.