29 May 2008

The Soros-McClellan Conspiracy?

Mr. Peepers was eager to tell me that he had been taunting Mr. Right about Scott McClellan's book for the past two days. Predictably enough, Mr. Right was displeased, just as, predictably enough, Mr. Peepers was gloating. I got a taste of it in the evening, when Mr. Right returned to the office and Mr. Peepers started on the subject again. Mr. Right rehearsed most of the criticisms I've already heard, then offered one I hadn't. His "sources" had informed him that the mastermind behind the publication of the damning memoir was none other than George Soros -- a name Mr. Right uttered as if that closed all argument on the subject.

Mr. Right's sources can be found in the Bushite blogosphere, where Soros is a bogeyman in the mirror image of Richard Mellon Scaife, the reputed mastermind of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" against Bill Clinton. It's probably natural, maybe even healthy for people to feel suspicious about rich and powerful publishers. They seem like the sort of people to perpetrate one-man conspiracies and bend governments to their will. But there's no reason why the McClellan memoir should be disqualified by association with Soros, should the link be real.

For that matter, I don't doubt that McClellan is a "disgruntled" ex-employee, as the remaining Bushies claim, or that he wrote the book for the money, as any cynic would suggest. But it follows from none of these observations that the book is just a big lie, no more than if it can be proven that Soros paid McClellan from his own deep pocket. Mixed motives are a fact of life. No one is pure. Disinterested benevolence is an ideal few can attain and very few aspire to. That's why logicians consider the ad hominem argument a fallacy, and that's why you can ignore all the right-wing whining about McClellan's betrayal. Like any book, his must be judged on its merits. The fact that he denounces Bush doesn't make him right; I'll have to read the book to decide that. But to the extent that sputtering reactionary rage is entertaining, we owe Scott McClellan a debt of gratitude.

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