When Jonah Goldberg said “Wilson's wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already." What the fuck was he thinking? Because he sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Not that he did, mind you. But if you didn’t know any better, or who Jonah Goldberg was, or why he has his head up his ass, you might actually put some credence to those words.
“Much of the Washington cocktail circuit” he assured us. And that sounds pretty straight forward. Hell, it almost sounds as if Jonah himself might be a part of this cocktail circuit, and as if perhaps he himself may have known her true identity. Who knows? Jonah sounds somewhat coy about this, like that maybe he has friends in Washington who are privy to secrets; as opposed to the reality of him getting all his scoops from the RNC faxsheets in the NRO breakroom.
And none of the Freepers even thought to question Jonah’s wisdom. Sure, Jonah Goldberg may be widely known around the world as a simpering yutz, but, he’s their simpering yutz. And they’ll take what they can get.
Dropping in Rank
Jonah also said “I'm all in favor of firing whoever did the leaking, if he or she did as the reports suggest. But it sounds like the leaker is dropping in rank and importance as is the transgression.”
You tell Lewis Libby he was of low rank and importance! Tell Lewis Libby he was of low rank and importance! Tell Karl Rove he was of low rank and importance. Tell Richard Armitage he was of low rank and importance. There were many high ranking administration officials who leaked Plame’s identity. And it denigrates a leak to say the leaker was of low rank and importance. And don’t forgot to mention to them that Jonah Goldberg wants them fired. I’m certain they’ll take it under consideration.
And sure, Jonah didn’t know the truth of what happened. But what the hell did he know? From the looks of things, not a whole hell of a lot. And if I had to guess, I’d suggest that the “dropping in rank and importance” was a matter solely of the rightwing echo-chamber talking down the facts. Like a game of eternal telephone, each wingnut continues to slightly embellish the “facts” until it comes back to the original nut as fresh confirmation of all they feared; and on it continues indefinitely.
And it’s amazing to watch how quickly they all incorporate each new “fact” into their belief system, no matter how tenuous. Here’s a wingnut named Callahan struggling to combine a sensible argument made by Josh Marshall with the bullshit Goldberg had bestowed upon them:
Marshall thinks that proves the Pflame is a "covert" operative. How does that square with info about her floating around the cocktail party circuit? I think it's likely that Wilson's wife was at one time a covert operative, but is now a analyst/consultant.
But even the facts at the time didn’t warrant Callahan’s hypothesis. On the one hand, we have a Department of Justice investigation which most surely would have at least a preliminary idea of whether a crime could have been committed before they’d decide to open an investigation. And on the other hand, we have an unconfirmed factoid by Jonah Goldberg. Hmm. I wonder. Let’s just say Jonah’s factoid wins and call it even.
Here’s another Freeper embellishing Jonah’s factoid just a little further. A non-Freeper had suggested that perhaps Goldberg was being a hack. Yes, shocking, I know. Freeper Mattdono replies saying “Well, Jonah isn't the person that is saying this is a well-known fact.” Thus exposing to the world that Mattdono is a little unclear on the concept of the word “hack”, as he’s unaware that hacks frequently repeat untruths that they’re told. That’s what makes them such a damn nuisance.
He then goes on with his own speculation saying (emphasis added):
Apparently, everyone in the Washinton D.C. metroplex knew who Mr. Wilson's wife was and where she worked. Adding: Mr. Wilson's position of ambassador entails him attending many cocktail parties and other gala-type events. He has introduced his wife on countless occassions and in the course of conversation either she or he noted that she was an analyst for the CIA.
Or perhaps she lies to them and tells them she works for an energy company…which, in fact, was exactly what she did, up until the time that the Bush Admin outed her to the media. Fake identities are a standard thing that even children know that spies use, and yet somehow, this obvious possibility entirely alludes poor Mattdono.
Later on in the thread, he makes a woeful attempt at using Occam’s Razor and concludes that:
She is a CIA ANALYST, not an undercover agent.
She parades around the Washington D.C. cocktail circuit and is known to be an ANALYST with the CIA.
Mr. Wilson, when pressed, calls his wife an ANALYST with the CIA.
Determination: She is an ANALYST with the CIA.
Result: No law was broken, period! End of story!
Wow, all that from some Jonah Goldberg gossip that turned out to be totally false. Plato would be proud.
I really like the “she parades around” and the “Mr. Wilson, when pressed” lines. They are certainly embellishments of his own invention, and yet he imagines himself as a philosophical clinician; having separated the truth from the chaff with his precious razor which always proves him correct. And that’s not to mention how he seems to skip over the beginning and middle parts of his argument, and seems to start with his conclusion. Funny how that works out.
How Facts Evolve
But do you see how that works? It went from Jonah’s “much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew” to “everyone in the Washington D.C. metroplex knew”, before concluding that “no law was broken”. All in the first section of a long messageboard. The last message on the page is from StriperSniper who actually has the Wilsons busting rocks in Alaska to pay back the cost of the investigation. And that’s not to mention the people who believed this was a Hilary Clinton conspiracy to take the heat off of the non-story involving a political contributor of hers who supposedly had ties to Hamas. Yikes!
Now, I’m not suggesting that any of this was Jonah’s intent, and believe that he was just doing his best to relay what he was told and add some initial thoughts of his own regarding what this information meant and how it was good for his side. He had heard some breathless speculation regarding a factoid convenient to his beliefs, and he passed it on to his readers, perhaps with a tad bit of his own embellishment. Not that he was trying to change the story, mind you. It was just creative license, solely designed to make his gossip sound more interesting. To clean it up a bit. That’s how it’s done. And the next thing you know, someone else spins it just a little bit further, and a little bit further, and the next thing you know, a new fact is born.
And that’s probably where this started. Not with Jonah, but with a couple of eager Republicans, slobbering for a truth that helps their side, and seeing too many that just don’t help at all. And so they start speculating aloud, about what type of truth they’d like to see. What they think is probably the case. And how this is all going to turn out in the end. And the next thing you know, they’ve got a valid sounding theory. And they talk with other people, who agree with what they hear, and then at some point in those fevered minds, they begin to believe that their theories are already proven.
They hit a critical mass of conservative minds melding onto the same facts, and they literally wish them into existence. And it works all the better when the Whitehouse has a crack team of taxpayer-financed hackmen, working overtime to create a more Bush-friendly universe.
Piles of Speculation
And on and on it goes. The meme passes from one conservative to another: There was no crime. She was just a desk jockey. This is just another liberal trick. How about them Clintons? Not that they had any evidence to back this up, but they didn’t need any. They already know it’s true. And so it must be that she was just a desk jockey that everyone “knew” was a CIA person.
And sure, the evidence leaned against that possibility. The idea that Joe Wilson would go publicly with a story that would be so easily disproven and embarrassing doesn’t make sense. Nor that the DOJ would start an investigation were she merely an analyst. But that wasn’t what they wanted to hear and I strongly suspect that many of them still won’t hear it.
But it wasn’t a complete loss for them. They didn’t like the story and their intellectual dishonesty allowed them to ride out the storm until the media focused on something else for fifteen seconds. They didn’t need a good defense or a rational set of facts. They just needed something. Any port in a storm. It’s not that they’re too stupid or lazy to get the facts. They just don’t want them. And why should they? Their speculation works so much better.
P.S. I apologize for repeatedly referring to Valerie Wilson as Valerie Plame. But Plame is the name most people use, so I’m continuing with that convention solely for the basis of clarity; despite the fact that it’s not her name.