Alex Pareene has a thorough and often very funny article about Jonah Goldberg, one of the reigning mediocrities of conservatism. Goldberg is a slightly less credible version of Thomas Friedman — the thing he says that aren’t patently absurd are incredibly obvious to the point of being platitudinous.
Goldberg is always careful never to actually stake out a controversial position on anything. He’ll never buck the movement, but he sees himself as above the right-wing populists. His position on any number of issues is impossible to discern. On gay marriage: “I have always felt that gay marriage was an inevitability, for good or ill (most likely both).” Jonah defended waterboarding while also claiming to find it a “tough question” and complaining that supporters of waterboarding were unfairly tarred as “pro-torture.” Everything he writes for publication is littered with “to be sure” ass-covering and declarations that he’s not actually seriously arguing what it seems very much like he’s arguing. (The Supreme Court’s Fred Phelps ruling was deplorable but also probably correct but maybe not. Julian Assange should be assassinated not that I’m saying for real that he should be assassinated.) He’s too cowardly and insecure to allow himself to be pinned down on most divisive political issues, much preferring to devote pixels and ink to making fun of mythical sandal-wearing Prius-driving (formerly Volvo-driving) liberals who supposedly think things he finds silly. Or Barbra Streisand, a recurring figure in his oeuvre.
Goldberg’s also a master at avoiding serious challenges to his half-formed opinions. In 2009, TBogg documented more than 40 instances of Goldberg evading arguments or declining to elaborate on points he’d made by invoking some rapidly approaching deadline. (Sample: “This has been discussed endlessly in the Corner and elsewhere. I’m on a deadline so I’m not going to wade too deeply into it.”) Other popular excuses in the Goldberg list of reasons he’s unable to respond to criticism have included working on his books, taking his children to and/or from school and/or the doctor, and being late for something…
In one of my favorite Goldberg passages of all time, he wrote: “I was trying to make a general point which everyone understands but also ended up communicating an even more general falsehood. Like saying violence never solves anything, people understand what I mean even when in reality what I’m saying isn’t true.” Not sure how anyone could argue with that.
And then there’s this line from Goldberg about the Park 51 mosque:
Here’s a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.
Well yes, there’s a thought. An incredibly shallow and stupid one, but it’s a thought — or what passes for one to Goldberg. Together with fellow quarterwit Rich Lowry — yes, the one who saw starbursts when Sarah Palin winked at him — are the wonder twins of the National Review, together forming one complete halfwit. They both suffer from delusions of adequacy.