31 October 2010

Idiots on Parade: Jonah Goldberg

Half empty? Half full?

What happens when people find their way into public positions by way of nepotism? You might call it idiots on parade. Exhibit #1 (of many possible) is Jonah Goldberg. That is, the Jonah Goldberg who writes for the National Review and is a mouthpiece at the American Enterprise Institute, having exploited his mom's various connections to land cushy jobs in the world of right-wing propaganda. (His mom being up to her elbows in the Clinton-Lewinsky fiasco.)

In any case, late last week Jonah published this Op-Ed in The Chicago Tribune. In it he essentially wishes someone - Julian Assange, pooh bah at Wikileaks - dead for speaking in ways that poor stupid Jonah doesn't like. Think I'm making that up? Here is Jonah's opening line: "I'd like to ask a simple question: Why isn't Julian Assange dead?" If only poor stupid Jonah were not so incredibly dim I might think he were playing at irony. But since he can barely manage coherence or consistency that seems unlikely. In fact, he himself assures us that no irony is involved here: "So again, I ask: Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago? It's a serious question."

Jonah, master of the genre called reactionary hyperbole, initially insists: "WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicized breaches of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the bomb." But ultimately he comes round to the view that the Wikileaks folks actually make the right-wing case: "Indeed, most of the documents from WikiLeaks debunk the vast majority of conspiracy theories that fueled so much idiocy on the left for the last decade. No sinister plots involving Halliburton or Israel have been exposed — because they only existed in the fevered fantasies of some coffee-shop dissidents." Jonah, being himself a coffee-shop war-monger, must have been keeping an eye on those sitting on adjoining couches.

I am not at all sure what the Wikileaks documents have to say about conspiracies of any sort. I have not read any of "thousands upon thousands of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq" that Wikileaks published last week. And despite his assurance about what "most of the documents" say, I doubt poor stupid Jonah has either. (According to The Guardian, the latest Wikileaks revelations consist in roughly 400,000 documents. When I say poor stupid Jonah practices hyperbole I mean to point out that he has not even run eyes over "most" of the documents.) My understanding is that the documents largely are field reports about specific encounters between U.S. troops, Iraqi civilians and, usually, Iraqi military personnel - usually these are reports of the what our allies were doing to the civilians, at our behest, and why the U.S. personnel were going to do nothing about it. I also understand that failing to prevent or report war crimes by proxy is itself a war crime. But who am I to say? And I also understand that the documents Wikileaks released have had names and other details redacted so that Jonah's crocodile tears about how our poor Iraqi and Afghani collaborators are at risk are pretty much totally irrelevant. Of course, acknowledging any of that would deprive poor stupid Jonah of the chance to show how really, really tough he is. What a pathetic joke. If you want some measured responses to the Wikileaks revelations look here; they are much less entertaining than Jonah because none of these folks wishes Julian Assange dead.

The folks at The Tribune should be ashamed. This essay is drivel. I don't like it. But while I will call Jonah Goldberg a buffoon, I don't wish him dead.

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