Thursday, February 08, 2007

The despicably wrong Jonah Goldberg

Jeff Cohen at AlterNet exposes the slimey Jonah Goldberg of NRO infamy.

There are many shades of right-wing punditry in our country. Among the shadiest is Jonah Goldberg. With arrogance seemingly matched only by his ignorance, Goldberg was just being Goldberg when he offered this wager two years ago:

Let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now).

The two-year period comes due this Thursday. Even Goldberg now realizes his prediction was totally wrong -- with poll after poll showing most Americans do not "agree that the war was worth it." (Not to mention what Iraqis think of the war or Goldberg's boast that "Iraq won't have a civil war.")

So shouldn't Goldberg -- or somebody -- pay off the $1,000?

The bet was offered near the end of an overheated blogo-debate between Goldberg (at National Review Online) and Dr. Juan Cole, the Middle East scholar from University of Michigan. In proposing the wager to Cole, Goldberg goaded: "Money where your mouth is, doc. One caveat: Because I don't think it's right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I'll donate the money to the USO."

Cole reacted to the proposed bet with disgust -- calling it symbolic of "the neo-imperial American Right. They are making their own fortunes with a wager on the fates of others, whom they are treating like ants." Wrote Cole: "Here we have a prominent American media star ... betting on Iraqis as though they are greyhounds in a race."

Just before Goldberg proposed his bet to Cole, the professor had fumed: "Goldberg is just a dime-a-dozen pundit. Cranky rich people hire sharp-tongued and relatively uninformed young people all the time and put them on the mass media to badmouth the poor, spread bigotry, exalt mindless militarism, promote anti-intellectualism, and ensure that right-wing views come to predominate."

"Relatively uninformed" seemed accurate to me, but I wondered about the "mindless militarism" charge -- although I knew Goldberg was one of dozens of pundits who mindlessly cheered on the Iraq invasion (and suffered no consequences). Then I saw a 2003 column in which Goldberg wrote of "bombing Afghanistan forward into the stone age" and relished this anecdote:

In the weeks prior to the war to liberate Afghanistan, a good friend of mine would ask me almost every day, "Why aren't we killing people yet?" And I never had a good answer for him. Because one of the most important and vital things the United States could do after 9/11 was to kill people.
This smug bastard is too sick for words...

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