Adventures in Senatorial Epistemology

by evanmcmurry

Via Weigel, here’s the “Friends of Hamas” rumor in a nutshell: Ben Shapiro of the desiccated corpse of Breitbart’s media empire published a short article suggesting that Hagel wasn’t releasing his list of foreign donors because one donor is called Friends of Hamas. The right jumped all over it, Rand Paul was swayed to vote against cloture because of it, and, of course, nobody bothered to check whether Friends of Hamas actually exists, which it doesn’t. “That is quite the accusation” one conservative blogger wrote of the rumor, which is true, and is also true about any accusation you make up out of thin air. Hagel once dated a unicorn! Hagel forced the Pope to resign!

But the best response comes from the Washington Times:

At this writing and absent the requested disclosure, it cannot be determined whether Mr. Hagel is literally associated with the “friends” of a designated terrorist organization. The mere fact, though, that it seems entirely plausible — given the nominee’s record of hostility toward Israel and his affinity for its enemies (including Hamas’ longtime sponsor, Iran) — his refusal to make the sort of disclosure expected of all Cabinet appointees should be the last straw for Senate Republicans and Democrats alike.

The “mere fact that it’s plausible” is some logic. If you can conceive of a nominee you already dislike as having nefarious connections—regardless of whether those connections actually exist, or whether you have any evidence demonstrating their existence, or whether they possibly could exist given the proven non-existence of the other parties necessary for their existence—you may filibuster that nominee’s appointment. Any accusation, so long as it’s conceivable, is as good as the truth.

In other news, Harry Reid should probably take a second look at filibuster reform.