If you can't rebut the testimony, just say the witness is a hapless old loser. Thus John Fund on Paul O'Neill in The Wall Street Journal:
I once had dinner with Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury secretary who is now making headlines with a scathing portrayal of his days in the Bush administration prior to his firing in December 2002. Bush critics will hail Mr. O'Neill as a truth-teller, White House aides are already calling him a back-stabber. In fact, Mr. O'Neill is a relic. The man I broke bread with was clearly a product of the Nixon and Ford administrations, in which he had served, and simply hadn't adapted to the post-Reagan Republican Party.
Poor pathetic Paul -- nobody told him that right-centrism is just so thirty years ago.
Bush, the conservative, hired the moderate O'Neill, then clashed with him. Bafflingly, Fund thinks this is O'Neill's fault:
Mr. O'Neill was a fish out of water in the Bush administration. Time magazine reports that he considered himself, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Secretary of State Colin Powell to be "three beleaguered souls . . . who shared a more nonideological approach [but] were used for window dressing." Mr. O'Neill tells Mr. Suskind, the author of a new book that tells Mr. O'Neill's side of his tour at Treasury, that the three moderates "may have been there, in large part, as cover" for the administration's conservative agenda.
But it wouldn't have taken much for Mr. O'Neill to figure out that on issues his new boss would more resemble Ronald Reagan than Nixon, Ford or the first George Bush. All he had to do was pay attention to Mr. Bush's record in Texas and his 2000 campaign.
Er, excuse me: Why was it O'Neill's job to figure out that Bush was incompatible with him? After all, didn't we all -- Paul O'Neill presumably included -- spend 2000 learning that George W. Bush was a "compassionate conservative," a pragmatist, a guy who works well with those of different ideological stripes? The press said it, over and over and over again, so surely O'Neill wasn't crazy if he believed it.
I know conservatives believe in "personal responsibility" for everyone but their own heroes, but sorry: It was Bush's job (or the job of consigliere Cheney) to figure out that O'Neill wasn't conservative enough for Bush. Fund notes that
At the first meeting of the president's cabinet, Mr. O'Neill passed out copies of a speech he gave in 1998 in which he said that there were two issues that transcend all others: "One is nuclear holocaust. . . . The second is environmental: specifically, the issue of global climate change and the potential of global warming."
A speech on global warming and nukes? With regard to whether O'Neill would ever go wobbly on hard-right principles, shouldn't this have been a bit of a tipoff?