Posted by: mutantpoodle | January 8, 2008

Jonah Goldberg Wastes Paper and Ink

I have been warned before about attempting to address the lunacy that is Jonah Goldberg. I try – really, I do, but sometimes

Maybe it would be easier to program my blog, every Tuesday morning, to post “Jonah Goldberg wastes paper and ink,” and be done with it.

But I digress.

Today’s nugget of wisdom drivel from young Jonah posits that we uneducated rubes vote, not based on the issues, but on our need to bolster our fragile psyches.


The winners of the Iowa Democratic caucuses stacked up in exact reverse order of experience, with the seasoned Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden scraping the bottom and the relatively inexperienced John Edwards and Barack Obama rising to the top. So much for “the issues” and “competence” driving voters’ decisions.

What Americans really want when they look into a politician’s eyes is to see their own images reflected back, like in Narcissus’ pool. The presidency in particular has become the highest ground in the culture war. Americans want a candidate who validates them personally. “I’m voting for him because he’s a hunter like me.” “I’m backing voting for her because she’s a woman too.” “I’m for that guy because he’s angry like me.” Such sentiments have colored the presidential contest for so long, they’ve saturated it like stain into wood….

In a sense, this is populism updated for the age of “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil.” Principles and policy details take a back seat to the need to say “there, there — I understand” to the voters.

Huh? Should candidates not understand voters? Is their mission so lofty that the concerns of the majority of Americans should be ignored?

Well, yes, if those concerns get in the way of Jonah’s ideology, they should.

Jonah then talks about John Edwards’ “canned rage” and Mike Huckabee’s blend of “right-wing identity politics with feel-your-pain populism,” worries that Edwards wouldn’t just fight, but punish (how dare he!) special interests, that Huckabee’s notion that America needs to “‘elect someone who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off,'” is true, and that it’s a bad thing:

He’s largely right — and shame on us for it. I’ve never met an employer who likes cutting jobs. Yet the assumption behind Hucka-Edwardsism is that if we only had a president who understands — feels! — the pain of losing a job, people wouldn’t lose their jobs.

Actually, Jonah, I think people believe that if a President understands the pain of losing a job, he’ll try to strengthen the social safety net and bolster job training so that the pain is as brief as possible.

Jonah misses that comprehension of the state and mood of the country inform policy, and has, for all his raging at the demons of empathetic campaigning, forgotten that campaigns are less than substantive not because the candidates are – well, some are, but Jonah didn’t mind that when W was running in 2000 – but because media coverage is. And “less than substantive” is being kind to the press – perhaps “not in the same galaxy as substantive” is more like it.

Into this fray runs Jonah, without a word of serious discussion of what the candidates are about, but instead criticizing one element of their attempt to appeal to voters in a way – perhaps the only way – that the media are willing to share.

Perhaps, given that Jonah somehow landed a gig at the Los Angeles Times, fer chrissakes, he could address his concerns about the issue-light nature of the presidential campaign by, I don’t know, writing about the issues? I mean, sure, he’d fuck that up, too, but at least he’s be lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

P.S. Question du jour: Which is more embarassing – the New York Times hiring always-wrong neocon hack Bill Kristol to provide cliche-ridden and poorly fact-checked op-eds for their editorial page, or the Los Angeles Times continued employment of Jonah Goldberg, whose constant lightweight whininess makes one wonder where the good conservative writers hang out.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


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