After sitting for a three-hour interview with C-SPAN on November 7, National Review's Jonah Goldberg wrote two posts on National Review Online complaining about progressives who called into C-SPAN to question him.
In one post, he complained that there "was a significant share of stupidity and asininity from some callers, but much less than I had any right to expect." In a second post, he claimed that "a plurality of the lefty callers were simply obsessed with race," claimed that "many liberals ... can't conceive of the idea that their ideological opponents aren't racists," and called another progressive caller "a jerk."
Goldberg also seemed upset that someone would mention Media Matters for America to him, writing: "I suspect that one or two of them were professionally invested in the topic (the guy who plugged FAIR and Media Matters smelled like a seminar caller to me)."
I haven't listened to the whole three-hour interview, but it's hard to think that these callers could possibly have been more defamatory to conservatives than Goldberg is to progressives. After all, Goldberg has written a book called Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, has claimed that "you can draw a line, but it's not a straight one" from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and has suggested that Hitler was a liberal.
You could probably construct a more brazenly hypocritical argument than Jonah Goldberg's latest rant about liberals if you tried, but you'd really have to work at it.
Responding to a column by the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, Goldberg writes that "the simple fact is that the objections offered by the anti-elitists right now have almost nothing to do with Ivy League education. Fair or not, to the extent the Ivy League comes up it is as a codeword or symbol for the agenda of progressives." And Goldberg spells out what these "anti-elitists" on the Right dislike about the progressive agenda:
Applebaum doesn't seem to comprehend that it is not status-class anxiety that is driving the main critique of the elite. It is that this particular elite is hellbent on bossing the country around that will make America less meritocratic.
To date, I've seen not one instance of Tea Partiers denouncing engineers, physicists, cardiologists, accountants, biologist, archeologists or a thousand other professions who've emerged from elite schools. Because those people aren't bossing anybody around.
Got that? Conservative "anti-elitists" dislike the "elite" because it is a bunch of liberals "hellbent on bossing the country around." Goldberg italicizes "bossing … around" twice, so it's pretty clear he thinks this is his key point.
But it's an absolutely stupid point. In this context, "bossing people around" is just a negative term for "leading." Every politician's agenda can be disparaged as "bossing people around" if you don't like what they're trying to do.
If "bossing people around" is the complaint, where's the conservative outrage over a governing elite telling two loving adults that they can't get married? Where's the conservative outrage over a governing elite telling a Marine that, unlike his peers, he'll be fired if he publicly acknowledges his relationship status?
You won't find clearer examples of "bossing people around" on any progressive agenda. And so it is obvious that Goldberg's claim that conservative "anti-elitists" dislike liberals because liberals are "hellbent on bossing the country around" is bunk. The Right's complaint isn't that the Left wants to boss people around, it's that it doesn't like what the Left wants to do. And they have every right to dislike it. But dressing that dislike up, as Goldberg does, as some principled commitment to individual liberty is simply dishonest. Or dumb. Or both. With Goldberg, it's hard to tell.
(Goldberg himself wrote in 2008 that gay marriage is "likely inevitable and won't be nearly the disaster many of my fellow conservatives fear it will be" and on December 31, 2009 (via Nexis) that it should be delayed, which basically means that he's in favor of bossing people around for the sake of bossing them around.)
In other words, it is the agenda of a very specific and very self-styled elite, not the existence of an elite that is pissing so many people off. Some of the angriest and most dedicated people I meet at Tea Party events are quite wealthy and successful, often with shiny educations equal to Applebaum's.
So, basically, wealthy and successful people who are used to bossing others around resent being bossed around themselves. And Jonah Goldberg thinks this is a principled objection to people bossing people around. Got it.
And Goldberg provides this hilarious example of projection:
[I]t's only one subset of Ivy Leaguers that seems to bother anybody on the right: the lawyer-social engineers-journalist-activists they churn out by the boatload. No one begrudges kids who've made good from tough backgrounds. What bothers lots of Americans is when those kids then think they are entitled to cajole, nudge, command and denigrate the rest of America.
When did you last hear a prominent liberal politician denigrate "ignorant bible-thumping rubes in Kansas?" Probably back on the Fifth of Never, right? But conservative politicians suggest that effete, godless coastal elites aren't "Real Americans" all the time. Goldberg himself refers to liberals as "filthy hippies," to pick one of many slurs. But in Jonah Goldberg's fantasy world of paranoia and oppression, it is liberals who denigrate the rest of America.
If you ever catch yourself thinking Jonah Goldberg is completely useless, just remember that in his attacks on liberals, he provides convenient reminders of the flaws of conservatives.
New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino recently said he didn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option" as "getting married and raising a family." Right-wing pundits have since defended his remarks, calling his comments "dead on the money," "defensible," and "[not] bad at all."
From the October 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the October 8 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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What is wrong with these people?
That's a refrain that goes through my brain many times each week, and I'm sure goes through the minds of my Media Matters colleagues as we monitor the right-wing media and continue to be dumbstruck by what passes for content. Granted, players there have never gotten bogged down in details, and have rarely let the facts get in the way of a good, liberal-hating yarn. This is, after all, a team that's led onto the field everyday by a chronic liar, Rush Limbaugh.
So the bar has never been set very high. But since Obama's Inauguration, there has been a frightening, wholesale change within the oxymoronic world known as "conservative journalism."
Bottom line: There's no adult supervision, which allows the likes of James O'Keefe to rush to the front of the right-wing media line. And to be honest, he doesn't look that out of place standing along side such committed fabricators as Glenn Beck or Pam Geller or Jim Hoft or Andrew Breitbart, or Fill In the Blank for whomever is making right-wing headlines these days describing Obama in the most fanatical and hateful way possible.
This is what the right-wing media now looks like. It looks like O'Keefe and his reportedly skeevy plan to lure a reporter into some pseudo sex den for a gotcha punk. It looks like Glenn Beck warning about progressive "killers" who loom on the horizon. And it sounds like Rush Limbaugh spitting out "Ayatollah Obama," when referring to the President of the United States on the AM dial
And folks, that's just from just this week.
I see that handful of conservative activists and media voices have offered up tsk-tsking condemnations of O'Keefe's latest tale. (But not mentor Breitbart. His Big Journalism bloggers remained uniformly mum about the O'Keefe fiasco on Wednesday.) And I assume those handful of conservative O'Keefe critics are embarrassed by his actions, embarrassed that he's viewed as an influential young gun in right-wing media circles, and embarrassed that Breitbart once lobbied for a Pulitzer Prize on O'Keefe's behalf.
But allegedly planning to lure a reporter onto a floating sex palace in order to surreptitiously film an uncomfortable seduction, is precisely what you get when a movement announces there no rules, when there are no adults around to oversee things, and there's not even a minimal expectation for coherency. It's what you get when inmates run the media asylum. So nobody should be surprised.
From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Right-wing media have frequently cited Bjorn Lomborg to downplay the danger of global warming. In his forthcoming book, Lomborg will reportedly declare global warming a "chief concern facing the world today" and recommend spending $100 billion annually on clean energy technology financed by a global carbon emissions tax.
From the August 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Propose a law or government regulation aimed at protecting the environment, and it's a safe bet that the right-wing media will respond by blasting intrusive "nanny state" policies that tell people how to live instead of letting them decide for themselves, and insisting that if people really care about the environment, the glorious free market will take care of it.
When Washington DC, for example, instituted a plastic bag tax designed to reduce number of bags clogging local rivers and streams, the good folks at Fox News denounced the measure as "downright ridiculous."
Now, I don't tend to agree with the claims that the free market will take care of all of our problems, or that the government discouraging the use of environmentally-destructive products is an unbearable infringement on individual liberty. But at least those positions are understandable. They don't (necessarily) indicate a hatred for the planet.
But what happens when the market provides environmentally-friendly products, and individuals make the decision to purchase those products? The right heaps derision upon them.
Just this morning, Glenn Beck & Co. mocked reusable grocery bags. Not, mind you, governmentally-mandated reusable grocery bags -- the bags themselves, and the people who use them. See, "real men" don't use them; they use "as much plastic as possible."
Then there's the Toyota Prius. For some reason, conservative media figures are blinded by rage whenever they encounter a Prius.
Confirming her membership in Manhattan's liberal elite, Katie Couric boasted on Tuesday's Late Show that she plans to follow Tom Friedman's admonition, that in refusing to move away from oil "we have met the enemy and he is us," and so she's realized she "should" buy a Toyota Prius, the favorite of conspicuously superior liberals, or at least a hybrid. Couric recounted how her daughter told her "'we should turn in the car we have' and 'get a Prius or a hybrid.' And I said, 'you know, Ellie, we should do that.' And we're going to look into it."
What the heck? Did a Prius run over Brent Bozell's dog? What's wrong with a private citizen deciding she should buy a fuel-efficient car?
I'm starting to think the right-wing media doesn't love free markets so much as they hate the environment. How else to explain their gleeful mockery of individual decisions to use reusable plastic bags and drive fuel-efficient cars?
From Jonah Goldberg's May 27 National Review Online post:
Don't get me wrong, I'm usually singing from the same "It's Obama's Fault and We Know It" songbook. But I just can't bring myself to agree with the folks who think that the BP spill is a major indictment of Obama. He may have handled the politics of this thing badly, by which I mean the P.R., but unless someone can explain how Obama could have "taken over" and fixed this faster, I think a lot of the criticism is overboard. Not all of it; it sounds like Bobby Jindal has some legitimate complaints. But the notion that B.P. isn't motivated to cap this thing as quickly as possible and so therefore Obama needs to lean on BP harder is nothing short of crazy talk. Obama could have been on vacation for the last month and I'd bet the tempo of the BP operation wouldn't have been one minute slower.
In an April 14 column, Jonah Goldberg falsely suggested that conservatives do not embrace empathy and compassion as qualities in considering judicial nominees. In fact, conservative Supreme Court justices have cited the importance of personal experience during their own confirmation hearings, and conservatives have repeatedly expressed support for empathy or compassion in judicial nominees.
Jonah Goldberg claimed that the Obama administration "is now floating the idea of imposing a value-added tax" "to pay for" the "recently passed health-care legislation." In fact, CBO found that the health care law more than pays for itself over the next ten years and beyond.
Jonah Goldberg writes:
Congratulations! This is your last week working for the man - at least for this year. The Tax Foundation calculates that Tax Freedom Day for 2010 is April 9, which means that by Friday, Americans will have spent nearly 100 days working just to pay their taxes. If Democrats have their way, Tax Freedom Day will keep getting later and later.
Individual liberty is far from the only concern, either. The kind of country we want to be is deeply bound up in taxation. The Tax Foundation estimates that some 60% of American families already get more from the government than they pay in taxes (and the top 10% of earners pay more than 70% of the income taxes). If all of President Obama's plans are enacted, that percentage will increase. We are heading toward being a country where instead of the people deciding how much money the government should have, the government decides how much money the people should have.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., recently admitted that alleviating the "maldistribution of income in America" from the haves to the have-nots is one of the legislation's real benefits.
For a guy who is so concerned about families who "get more from the government than they pay in taxes," Goldberg is remarkably unconcerned about corporations that get more from the government than they pay in taxes. See, Goldberg's column comes just a few days after Forbes reported that last year, General Electric "generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion." And Exxon Mobile, despite more than $30 billion in earnings, paid no federal income taxes.
Despite the fact that Exxon and G.E. celebrate "Tax Freedom Day" just moments after ringing in the new year, Goldberg didn't once mention corporate taxes in his column. Apparently, he thinks that if your tax money pays for a poor kid's school lunch, that's an infringement on your freedom -- but if it subsidizes an oil company's profits, that's all good.
Right-wing media figures declared Obama's health care summit with congressional leaders "staggeringly boring," "boring as sand," and a "snorefest." Conservative media have a history of painting Obama's policy-laden appearances as insufficiently entertaining.