Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Saturday, January 28, 2006

How to Poison Your Own Well

Yesterday, while reading through the comments section at DailyKos (and laughing my butt off about their Alito filibuster argument), I chanced upon this post, purporting to reveal yet more cronyism in the Bush White House in connection with the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).

The gist of the article, for those of you disinclined to click through (and I understand completely), is that the PFIAB is supposed to provide expert, non-partisan legal advise on foreign intelligence operations, but that a list of current members of that board suggests it is staffed by Bush groupies rather than experts or non-partisans (e.g. Pete Wilson, former GOP Senator and governor; Cresencio Arcos, AT&T executive and former ambassador).

The problem, here, is that this information is coming from the Daily Kos, who has managed the unenviable feat of poisoning his own well. "Poisoning the well" is a logical fallacy, a for of ad hominem attack, in which one person pre-emptively attacks the credibility of another so that the following discussion cannot possibly be expected to be balanced. One example would be, in a Presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry, for Bush to start out by reminding the audience that Kerry faked his way through three purple hearts and then ran for election on a "military hero" platform. While true, such a statement is wholly irrelevant to any substantive issue (like Social Security, abortion, judges, Medicare/Medicaid, foreign policy, etc.) and designed only to discredit.

As I said, Kos has managed to poison his own well. It is true that the shrieking hystrionics over at Kos have little to do with the substantive merit of any of his claims. In fact, everything he says or insinuates about the PFIAB and cronyism may in fact be true. The problem is that, because the information comes from the shrieking, hystrionic Kos, I'm completely and utterly disinclined to care, let alone find out. He's so discredited himself in the eyes of all but the insanest of the insane that rational discourse is basically impossible.

In such a case, the only thing left to do is read through his comments section, laughing at the frenzied comments in the wake of John Kerry's filibuster.