February 17, 2005
A Very Odd Line in David Wessel's Column This Morning
He writes, of NYU economist Jason Furman's attempts to make sense of the Bush Social Security not-really-a-plan:
WSJ.com - Capital: Other senior administration officials, who spoke on condition that they wouldn't be named, challenged some of Mr. Furman's techniques for gauging the effect of Mr. Bush's proposals....
It used to be that there were only two reasons why White House officials would refuse to be quoted by name:
- They were telling the truth, but feared for their careers and their status should the truth be found inconvenient for the dominant faction within the White House.
- They were telling lies in an attempt to damage another White House faction, and did not want their adversaries to be certain about where they should direct reprisals.
Neither of these reasons apply to the White House officials who use the cloak of anonymity to attack Jason Furman. For this White House has added two more reasons for White House officials would want to be cited but not by name:
- They are unqualified idiots, and their criticism would have no force if it were attributed to the individual who made it.
- They are ashamed of being publicly identified with a criticism that they know is b*******, or are worried about what public identification would do to their reputation.
It seems unfair for David Wessel to cite these criticisms without telling us why the criticizers are demanding anonymity. Are they afraid of what being known to have made such criticisms would do to their long-run reputation? Are they worried that if they were identified they would be dismissed as unqualified lightweights?
Inquiring minds would like to know...
Posted by DeLong at February 17, 2005 02:41 PM