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However craven, at least the ministers and subjects whose emperor had no clothes in the Hans Christian Anderson story were smart enough to recognize their monarch’s unjustified pomposity. If only the same could be said for George Will’s fellow talking heads on Fox News Sunday.

Will, whose punditizing success owes largely to the popular equation of haughtiness with intellectuality, was at his condescending but specious best on the show’s July 27 edition, and his colleagues’ utter inability to hold him remotely accountable was at its most embarrassingly obvious.

Is there a “right way” to deal with the tens of thousands of Central American children and their parents flooding the U.S. border, anchor Chris Wallace asked Will. After briefly alluding to the refugee policy aspects of the problem, Will seized an opportunity to dazzle both viewers and the show’s other panelists with his reputation for historical expertise and general erudition.

“Long term,” he explained pedantically, “the most effective legislation passed concerning immigration wasn’t an immigration bill at all. It was Bill Clinton’s greatest act, passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement that put North Americans on the path to prosperity. We need to do something similar for the countries in which these children are fleeing, including the fact of trying to get Americans consuming so much of the drugs that are imported from these countries.”

The ignorance is as jaw-dropping as the arrogance. The United States, of course, has already “done something similar” to NAFTA for the countries of Central America. It was the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which has been in force since 2006. Eight years later, signatory countries El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have turned into the home countries for most of the newest illegal immigrant wave.

Further, NAFTA itself was so effective at limiting the illegal immigrant flow that more than half of the illegal population in the United States nowadays comes from Mexico. This, of course, despite repeated promises from the treaty’s supporters that its passage would spur the export of “goods, not people.”

To his credit, Will knew his Fox News Sunday colleagues all too well. Neither Wallace nor Fox’s Brit Hume and Juan Williams, nor Kirsten Powers of USAToday, uttered a syllable of objection.

At least in the process, he made plain as day a leading reason for America’s deepening political dysfunction. How can any democratic political system perform adequately if so many of its designated watchdogs are such unmistakable know-nothings?