Posted by Brad @ 3:09 pm on May 9th 2012

Jonah Goldberg – America’s Whiniest Conservative Commentator?

In some ways, I like Jonah Goldberg. He’s funny, he’s a good blogger when he’s an “everything and the kitchen sink” sort of guy, and he’s not unintelligent. I also really dislike Jonah Goldberg in pretty much every attempt he makes to come off as a serious conservative thinker. He tends to do great day-to-day work, and terrible long-term projects. His premises seem to be more “cute” concept than actual informative theses, but then he goes about trying to, essentially, whine at everybody until they accept the serious intellectual heft of his rather trifling “big ideas”, which are usually not much more than a dressed-up version of a shallow casual connection he’s made somewhere and then decided to put to book-length form and try to convince everybody he’s really added something substantive to the political discourse.

Which would be, weirdly, fine with me if I thought it was just a cash-in, as plenty of people do that kind of thing – from Kos to Bill O’Reilly. But in literally every case of somebody directly calling him on it – or worse yet, actually challenging the notion that he has actually added anything informative or constructive – he immediately drops into this reflexive whininess. He doesn’t rise to a spirited defense of his material or give as good as he gets; rather, he drops into this really annoying, really childish tone, and just starts bitching about the ground rules or making opaque references to “fairness” and “the media” or not being taken seriously or whateverthefuck. At which point, he’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. Like, for instance, how this old interview with Jon Stewart progresses.

In any case, a bad couple of weeks for him, as Exhibits B and C are:

Him getting in a combative interview with Piers Morgan – Piers Morgan – and then taking up the banner of being ambushed and unfairly castigated. By Piers Morgan.

Him getting called out by MSNBC for having in his bio that he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Meaning his published sent an application and $50 bucks to the Pulitzer board. Who then didn’t nominate him. And his publisher replying to the reporter with their internal emails to Jonah on the subject accidentally attached.

The only thing that would make it worse is if he had Ramesh Ponnuru’s voice* (whose Party of Death contributed about as much to the political discourse in America as Liberal Fascism did).

(That’s a cheap shot, admittedly).

1 Comment »

  1. Or just read this, which might be the definitive take-down.

    Like Conor Friedersdorf, I have an inherent distaste for conservative commentators or politicians who are clearly smart enough to know game-playing bullshit from ideology or ideas, but who don’t have the guts to call out their own party on the matter. For many, it’s just turning everything back to an argument against the other guy (“Sure, Rush Limbaugh said all Democrats are baby-rapers, but President Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich!”). For others (particularly politicians) it’s simply a desire to avoid the matter entirely. But what particularly sticks in my craw are people that “are just asking questions,” and both refuse to let themselves be pinned down on a position but also endlessly snipe one side of the issue and endlessly make excuses and whose express purpose in life seem to be to tip the scales to a position they’re unwilling to explicitly support and articulate themselves.

    Comment by Brad — 5/11/2012 @ 6:36 pm

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