Monday, February 13, 2006

Jonah v. Jonah

Jonah Goldberg went after Glenn Greenwald's excellent post about the intellectual bankruptcy of the rightwingers yesterday. While Glenn's point is that the Republicans seem to actually stand for nothing anymore except blindly following whomever they believe will keep them in power, Jonah chose to take an obviously hyperbolic statement literally, in which Glenn says that all it takes to be labeled a liberal these days is to oppose Bush. Jonah says it's bullshit:
I defy either of them to attempt to demonstrate this assertion factually. Andrew has quoted countless conservatives' criticisms of the President (the merits of the criticism vary widely). They aren't all suddenly liberals -- even in the eyes of Bush "loyalists" -- for criticizing Bush.
He has a lot more and names names--John McCain and Bob Barr among them--but, his point is, really that it's wrong because he says it's wrong and no one can show him any different.

He fails to mention, however, that Greenwald is just pointing out a modus operandi that Bush supporters were using even before he took the White House, but has become nationalized by his position as President. What left-wing wacko would sink so low to accuse Bushies of this kind of mindless namecalling?

You guessed it. It's Jonah Goldberg:
I don't know about you guys, but I think this is fun. Actually, I do know about some of you guys, because you're the ones sending me angry and hysterical e-mails calling McCain a baby-killer, a "sicko," a Communist, etc. Which gets to the real point here. If John McCain is a Communist — or even a liberal — what on God's green Earth is Al Gore? What vocabulary is left?...

This lack of ideological depth perception in some quarters is stunning and very embarrassing. If there is a political chasm between Bush and McCain, then even Robby Knievel — with a rocket strapped to his back — couldn't cross the distance between McCain and Gore, let alone Bradley...

I'd like to respond very briefly to the hordes of people accusing me of treachery, opportunism or — egads! — liberalism. These people think I am wildly pro-McCain. One interlocutor thinks I should be writing for Salon. Several think I secretly want a job in the Gore administration. I don't really mind the criticism; as I say, this is all fun to me. But rather than type out responses to every correspondent I thought I would just cover my bases here.

As pretty much the only NR writer not supporting Bush, I'd like to say you people need to take a couple of deep breaths. Is Pat Buchanan a Leftist for not supporting Bush? Is Alan Keyes? What about Steve Forbes or Gary Bauer? Do you think they're all bucking for jobs in the Gore administration?...

I welcome all criticism — and even reprint it. But, just so you know, when you people write me and say I am a Leftwing zealot because I don't support George Bush — whom I would gladly support if he got the nomination — you make Bush supporters look really silly. If you've got arguments, make them. But don't embarrass yourselves.
Later, though, Jonah jumped on the Bush bandwagon and became disenchanted with McCain, saying he was "spiral(ing) farther and farther into self-caricature" and then, suddenly, he had become a full-fledged member of the you, sir, are a liberal brigade. This is how he described a Franklin Foer piece about William Kristol:
The essence of his piece is that Bill Kristol has become a liberal. That's a bit too provocative; if you pick almost any public-policy issue, with the possible exception of campaign-finance reform, Kristol will give you a conservative opinion of it. But Foer isn't being irresponsible when he calls Kristol a liberal either...

I also think what's happened is a shame because it seems like Kristol is in a corner intellectually. "Why are conservatives so upset? It isn't that we supported McCain; it's that we haven't apologized for supporting him," Kristol tells Foer, "There's something sick about a movement like that." Well, yes and no. Maybe some people are asking Kristol for a full kowtow for his McCain support; Lord knows my brief endorsement of McCain caused some readers to spit their Diet Cokes out of their nostrils and onto their screens.

But in a sense an apology is in order. During the campaign Kristol suggested more than once that to be a Bush supporter was tantamount to being a hostage to evil corporations that put profit above patriotism.
Of course Jonah, as we read, said the Bushies themselves had no arguments, so there's that.

My one brief exchange of e-mails with Jonah actually centered around his defense of Ken Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting whose slanted survey of PBS broadcasting was performed by a fellow right-wing hack who decided Chuck Hagel and, yep, Bob Barr should be considered liberals because they disagreed with Bush.

But, Jonah, who, it must always be pointed out, earned his position as a conservative pundit by being the fruit of the poison womb, does give himself an out here. Yes, he'll come back and point out that he said he couldn't remember when the McCains of the party had been "automatically and unreflectingly labled [sic] 'liberal' by anyone of any substance or prominence on the Right." Get that? It may have been a game played by the entire Bush apparatus during the election, by appointees of the administration and by the right wing talking heads (Hannity called John Sununu a "liberal Republican" because he was concerned about NSA spying and the Patriot Act, but despite the senator's perfect rating from the American Conservative Union), but Jonah can always look down from the perch on which he was placed by birth and decide those using that tactic weren't substantive or prominent enough to meet his criteria.

Hell, they might even have been closet liberals.


Post a Comment

<< Home