detailing her romps with the Emperor Charlemagne all thosencenturies ago (they were seen together again last week in Cleveland;nthis time, there may be photos), or Barbra Streisand —nwoofers and hveeters cranked up to hearing-impairment volume—claimingnto know more about public policy than SharonnStone, or Toni Morrison lauding Bill Clinton’s performance asnthe countr)”s first black president, the famous and foolish havenreally outdone themselves in recent years.nSome decades ago, Raymond Burr, already well known fornhis portrayals of such fictitious judicial figures as Perr’ Masonnand Ironsides, was asked by a professional organization tonappear and deliver his thoughts on justice. Burr politely declined,nreminding them that he was an actor, not a lawyer ornprosecutor. More recently, such Renaissance experts as AlannAlda and Ed Asner have appeared at public gatherings to giventhe attendees the benefit of their vast resources of knowledge onnimportant matters. Alda, without question, used the experiencenpicked up during those hellish years of battiefield surgery onnM*A*S”H to instruct those present on erectile dysfunction,npublic sanitation in Mauritania’s southern provinces, and compulsoryneuthanasia for the wealthy; and it is reasonable to assumenthat the cantankerous Asner, still thinking he was LounCrant, reminded his audience of the importance of insults innheadline-writing and what censorship means to people whonhate to be interrupted. Someone, after all, must stand tall tonproclaim the right of celebrities to preen, trumpet their misconceptionsnabout the world, and behave like oafs in public.nThe result is that these are the best of times for self-anointednexperts; lately, they have claimed carte blanche to denounce authoritativelynthe Founding Fathers as racists, boozers, and ne’erdo-wells,nand there is an unconfirmed rumor that Jesse Jackson,nin a state of’the highest dudgeon since Steve Martin, and notnMumia Abu-Jamal, was selected to host this year’s AcademynAwards (clearly another example of Selma ’65 racism), will takento the airwaves to “out” President James Monroe, attacking thenMonroe Doctrine as nothing but a white-supremacist patrioticnploy to divert attention from the President’s string of PeepingnTom incidents up and down the East Coast. Demeaning thendead really excites these new experts: They can maintain, withoutnfear of contradiction, legal proceedings, or a clout in theneye, that they know for a fact that George Washington oftennsneaked out of the W’liite House at night to car’e “Martha is anstrumpet” on the trees in Lafiyette Park across the street, andnthat Thomas Jefferson not only consorted with slaves but pawedncoeds and may even have taunted one dancing bear too manynduring his visits to the National Zoo.nMel Brooks was obviously joking when, during an interx’iewnwith critic Kenneth Tynan some years ago, he theorized thatnNapoleon may have been Jewish because “he was shortnenough, also he was very nervous and couldn’t keep his handsnsteady. “^Ihat’s why he always kept them uiider his lapels.” Byncontrast, Diane Keaton, appearing several years ago at the AcademynAwards ceremony in an alarming outfit that made her looknlike Mao Tse-tung disguised as a food-sen’ice worker, appearedndeadly serious — and slightly unhinged — as she waxed indignantnabout what “being normal” really meant. While precisenfigures are not available from the Bureau of Normal Statistics, itnis reasonable to estimate that somewhere between 96.3 andn96.7 percent of the American public have a ballpark idea ofnwhat is meant by the term —at least 46 percent of the time.nThus, Keaton’s comments should carr’ equal weight with Rosien20/CHRONICLESnnnO’Donnell’s antic posturing about gun violence or New YorknCit)”s homeless situation (both declining problems for years), ornwith Jimmy Carter’s infantile apologies for colonialism as, dispatchednby the egghead pant}’waists in the Clinton administration,nhe formally handed over the Panama Canal. Perhaps Mr.nCarter’s next combat mission will be to storm CIA Headquartersnin Langley, ball-peen hammer clutched tightly in hisnarthritic paw to disable the security system —all the whilenpreaching, with the same ostentatious empathy so often displayednby Bill Clinton, the renaissance qualities of opennessnand goodwill to impress self-important soul-trolls Susan Sarandonnand Tim Robbins and the governing board of Emily’s List.nThere are some, like hyper-gadfly attorney Alan Dershowitznor critic Susan Sontag, who seem to fancy tiiemselves experts onneverything. With Dershowitz, it is constitutional law, race relations,nand presidential perjur)’, and there will be no stoppingnhim should he attempt the trifecta of Airedale-breeding, the intricaciesnof literary translation from the Lakota Sioux dialect,nand the significance of the loquat in Oriental culture. Sontag,nforever in love with the white noise of her own intellect, isnknown for such extravagant abstractions as “photographersnseem to need periodically to resist their own knowingness andnto re-mystify what they do” —a comment that must have astoundednthe ghosts of Margaret Bourke-Wliite, Alfred Stieglitz,nand Walker Evans and, were they reminded of it, would terrifynFrancesco Scavullo and even Sontag’s pal Annie Leibovitz,nwho might now be forced to reassess their entire careers to makensure tiiey have not behaved badly. Another of Sontag’s authoritativendeclarations is that the “white race is the cancer of humannhistory,” which sounds suspiciously like the germ of an idea fornthe second book in her trilogy of definitive philosophical works,nperhaps to be tided Arrogance as Metaphor. Other Renaissancenexperts merely pick one subject, master it imperfectiy, and proceednto wing it from flien on: All too soon, witii his new role onnthe television sitcom Spin Cit)’, we will be hearing from actornCharlie Sheen on the proper distribution of social sendees, althoughntiiere may be no truth to the rumor tiiat Katie Couric,nberserk with self-admiration after watching (for the 345th time)nthe videotape of her live colon exhibition on network television,nwill donate an ovary during an appearance at Radio Cify MusicnHall and, throughout the process itself, ruminate on organ replacementnvia radio hookup with Larr}’ King.nThe thrills of all this are obvious: Wliere else but in today’sncelebrity culture or on the David Letterman Show can a pompous,nill-informed simpleton trot out clownish drivel as Renaissancenwisdom and claim—with a straight face —its validify?nAccording to Bill Clinton—a New Democrat and New Renaissancenman who feels our jjain, remembers nonexistent churchburningsnin Arkansas from his youth, and did not have sex withnthat woman — it all depends on “what the meaning of’is’ is.”nWith Letterman, always the entertainer and prankster, we nahirallynexpect such spoofs as his running series of Top Ten lists.nI’he bizarre thing aboutthe new Renaissance experts, however, isnthat they seem to think they actually are Gandhi, or AlbertnSchweitzer, or the second comings of Murray Kempton ornWilliam F. Buckley, Jr. Such inveterate hams as Alda and Asnernconveniendy forget that they were reading scripts; they act as if wenshould believe that they are qualified to perform open-heartnsurgen- or handle a newspaper censorship controversy. More recentiy,nretired newsreader Walter Cronkite—sounding more likenJimmy Carter witiT each passing day—has spoken out on the rewardsnto be reaped from one-world government, a concept thatn