February 21, 2007

You Too Can Be an "Expert"

I've mentioned the wonderful columns by Werther before; see "The Empire at Evening" as one example.

When Werther embarks on one of his marvelously indignant and scathing protests against the endless idiocies that surround us on every side, I absolutely adore him:
It is a moss-encrusted truism that in order to be an expert in Washington, one only has to know an infinitesimal amount more than the average TV-watching ignoramus. The imperial capital boasts a greater density of pseudo-experts, jumped-up grad students, egomaniacal publicity hounds, and partisan false flag operatives than any patch of territory since the Rome of Elagabolus. The fake expert is now a Washington City career track that supports many a think tank and speaker's bureau. One such fake expert is Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, a partisan operative who clawed her way up the greasy pole to become a deputy assistant political appointee at the Justice Department in the remote Pleistocene abysm of the Reagan Administration.

In the 1990s, as a political gunslinger no longer employed by the government, Ms. Toensing fell naturally into the well-worn groove of becoming a pseudo-expert: an ostensibly well-informed specialist observer who in reality recites carefully rehearsed talking points, in this case of the Republican National Committee.

Knowing this background, it was with eager anticipation that we read Ms. Toensing's latest pronouncement on the famous Libby/Plame case in the journal of the political class, the Washington Post.
This is an especially nice bit, as Werther dissects each of Toensing's cases for indictment in turn:
c. It's Joe Wilson's fault. Ms. Toensing blows her shrill tin horn by way of announcing that the victim of this drama is really the perpetrator. In so doing, she also restates the falsehood (a perennial Republican National Committee talking point) that Plame was not a covert CIA operative. If that were the case, why is Plame enjoined by her secrecy agreement from stating that she was, in fact, a covert operative, in anything she might write? The "Plame-not-a-covert-operative" meme is of the same genus as the myth of Iraqi WMD: no matter how thoroughly it is debunked, some will believe it.
And Werther's conclusion:
Hatchet jobs of this caliber are old hat for Ms. Toensing of diGenova and Toensing, LLP, K Street. Two years ago, she unburdened herself with a similar effusion on the Libby/Plame case, also in the Washington Post op-ed page. [6] In that propaganda piece, she (and the Post) failed to disclose that key witness Robert Novak, whom she mentioned nine times, was a friend of hers.

Thus it is that one becomes an expert in Washington. Substantive knowledge applied with intellectual honesty is unnecessary; all that is required is brazen assertion, assisted by the Powers-That-Be at the Post editorial board.
Just read it all.