Awash In Sophists

Victor Davis Hanson is railing against them:

In classical Athens, public life became dominated by clever and smart-sounding sophists. These mellifluous "really wise guys" made money and gained influence by their rhetorical boasts to "prove" the most amazing "thinkery" that belied common sense. We are living in a new age of sophism -- but without a modern equivalent of Socrates to remind the public just how silly our highly credentialed and privileged new rhetoricians can often sound.

So true. You've got Andy McCarthy telling us that president Obama is allied with radical Islamists in a Grand Jihad against America, Stanley Kurtz insisting that he was a Marxist revolutionary in college, and Dinesh D'Souza claiming he is motivated by the Kenyan anti-colonialism of a bygone era. John Yoo and Marc Thiessen established themselves as national pundits by insisting that strapping someone to a board and nearly drowning them repeatedly isn't torture. Glenn Beck twists history in ways so conspiritorial he can't even maintain his own consistency, and earns tens of millions peddling his untruths.

Of course, Hanson isn't talking about those sophists. Instead he takes am at targets including climate science, the stimulus, and Ezra Klein:

There is also a new generation of young, sophistic bloggers who offer their wisdom from the New York-Washington corridor. They are usually graduates of America's elite colleges and navigate in an upscale urban landscape. One, the Washington Post's 26-year-old Ezra Klein, recently scoffed to his readers that a bothersome U.S. Constitution was "100 years old" and had "no binding power on anything."

Typically, Hanson gets his facts wrong - the remarks he both alludes to and mischaracterizes weren't made to readers, they were uttered in a brief television appearance. In it, Klein said that the document was more than 100 years old (technically true but a small gaffe - these things happen on live television), and as he later explained to his readers, he neither said nor thinks that the document itself has no binding power:

Yes, the Constitution is binding. No, it’s not clear which interpretation of the Constitution the Supreme Court will declare binding at any given moment. And no, reading the document on the floor of the House will not make the country more like you want it to be, unless your problem with the country is that you thought the Constitution should be read aloud on the floor of the House more frequently.