My brush with personal destruction

What did me in was not my economic ideas but gutter campaign tactics and personal assaults. I’ve been called an adulterer, a misogynist, a tax cheat, a deadbeat dad, antigay and mentally unfit. A Washington Post editorial warned that I was a “dangerous” pick for the Fed, and a columnist said I could cause a “global financial calamity.” They must imagine I have superheroic powers of persuasion. If appointed, I would have been one of seven Fed governors…

The low point of the sleaze campaign was when the media successfully persuaded the Fairfax County, Va., courts to unseal my divorce records from nine years ago—over not only my objections but my ex-wife’s. The Post, New York Times and others unfolded our dirty laundry on their pages—never bothering to report that she and I are on amicable terms and often jointly attend our kids’ events. Anyway, what do the details of my divorce almost a decade ago have to do with my suitability to help set monetary policy?

The sleuths in the media also tracked down spoof Christmas letters I wrote to friends and family in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These were outrageous and irreverent and poked fun at everyone and everything, including myself. In 2002 I wrote that I had bought a red sports car—my “midlife crisis” car—in which I cruised around town with my kids strapped into baby seats, trying to pick up women. Obviously I never did any such things, but reporters ignored the obvious humor and described it as evidence of sexism.