No hermaneutics, please, we're Quinean
Matt Yglesias writes:
Meanwhile, Lindsay Beyerstein applies the hermeneutics of suspicion and suggests that in light of the many faux debunking of the Killian memos we should believe The Washington Post either just because we liberal bloggers may be poorly situated to evaluate claims about jargon used by the Texas Air National Guard. A semi-fair point.
I'm not arguing that we should write off the WaPo article entirely. I'm certainly not saying we should all throw up our hands because because I'm not an expert on TANG-speak or 1972 military memo etiquette. I'm saying that the article made a poor case. The article also undermined its credibility by rehashing discredited allegations and uncritically citing experts who mistakenly presuppose that the photocopies and .pdfs of photocopies preserved the typographical relationships that they are known to distort. I'm not arguing that prior blogger hatchet jobs should discredit all future journalistic inquiry. However, if would-be serious debunkers uncritically repeat the claims of faux debunkers, they diminish their own debunking cred.
This is a very fair point, I must say:
The fairest point of all, I think, is the one I keep making. Nothing important about Bush's National Guard record hinges on the accuracy of those memos. He had strings pulled on his behalf to get into the Guard to avoid service in a war he supported, served dishonorably, and then lied later about his service. In the greater scheme of things this record is pretty trivial, and the Killian memos are a trivial sub-element of it.