Tuesday, August 02, 2005

NYT: Anne E. Kornblut reviews The School for GOP Hacks in an out of town tryout

Things are getting more bewildering for Agnes of Moliere's The School for GOP Hacks. Yes, we're referring to Robert Novak who decides to semi, sort of break the silence. Maybe he spent the weekend listening to Depeche Mode? Or maybe a Moliere character can't help acting the idiot?

In this morning's New York Times, Anne E. Kornblut walks you through Novak's latest onstage monologue. Her article, entitled "Columnist Hints Book Was Source That Led to Use of C.I.A. Officer's Name," tells us:

Mr. Novak offered a possible explanation for the disconnect on Monday, suggesting in his column that he could have obtained Ms. Wilson's maiden name from the directory Who's Who in America, which used that name in identifying her as the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador.

Mr. Novak's claim to have read brings to mind all sorts of easy jokes. But if the argument he appears to be making, Valerie Plame was listed in Who's Who, is his latest spin, I look forward to many "supporting" points. Such as an old clipping of a wedding announcement, possibly her high school yearbook. I don't think anyone's claimed that Valerie Plame's name had never been uttered publicly in some context (in fact the fright wing claims Plame was a topic of beltway chatter).

Apparently not claimed until now. Which is what makes Novak such a perfect Agnes. He doesn't have to work too hard to come off clueless. Or to argue from conflicting angles.

From Kornblut's article:

Any request that he withhold Ms. Wilson's name from his column of July 14, 2003, would have been "meaningless" once he had been told she was married to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Novak wrote on Monday, because she was openly listed in the directory. But Mr. Novak also wrote that he would never have used Ms. Wilson's name had anyone from the C.I.A. told him that doing so would endanger her or anyone else.

Does Novak see the apparent contradiction? Agnes Novak's primary character motivation still appears to be confusion. Re-entering the fray after all this time of silence, Novak (whose column is an attempt to defend his name -- such as it is and has been for years) seems as clueless as ever.

Which is why what was written December 31st still stands, the comparison of Novak to Agnes in The School for Wives:

But where Agnes's intellect slowly develops over the course of the play, Novak's gone down a different path -- schooled to be a non-thinking opinion writer, he's only excelled further at his cause.
[. . .]
There's not a great deal of thought that goes into Novak's "writing," so, he very well could have had no idea that doing stenography for the Court of St. Bully Boy could imperil the nation. Once Evans steered him down the road of hack journalism, there was no controlling him.
Now he surveys the chaos he's created and shrugs. He really appears to have no grasp of the destruction he has brought about or that he was used to do just that.
Only an Agnes, perfecting the idiocy Arnolphe started her on, could be so obtuse.

Kornblut's final two paragraphs read like a tongue-in-cheek theatre review (and that's not an insult). Read slowly and savor Kornblut's punch line:

In the Who's Who directory for 2003, personal information about Mr. Wilson includes his origins in Bridgeport, Conn., and the names of his previous wife and his four children. His current wife is listed as Valerie Elise Plame, and the date of their marriage April 3, 1998.
There is no mention of her employer.

Before Novak and The School for GOP Hacks finish performing out of town, they might want to nail the play's structure. (If not, I hope the Times unleashes Kornblut for another review.)

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