For reason’s unknown, the Columbus Dispatch prints his column. Today’s was an excellent example of why he is a huge idiot. If I went one on one with Jonah Goldberg, I’d hope he’d bring more than that to the table.
In an effort to call him out, I sent him a very long email. Reprinted here for your reading pleasure:
Dear Mr. Goldberg —
Every time I read one of your columns, I wonder whether you actually believe what you are writing, of if you only have some space to fill and a deadline to meet. Because, without fail, you seem to conjure up huge contradictions in the arguments you make, without apparent irony.
Take for example your assertion in today’s (November 11, 2008) column:
The Republican Party is different. It says to voters, if you believe seven, eight or even 10 out of the 10 things we believe, you should be a Republican. Obviously, there are coalitions on the right and ideologues on the left, but I think the generalization remains valid.
If you are arguing that to be a member of a political party requires adhering to a set of beliefs, as it seems you believe liberals lack, what is the use of asserting that to be a Republican you need only adhere to 7 or 8 out of 10 core beliefs? (Perhaps, to back up your assertion, you should have let your readers know just what those 10 tenets of Republicanism are — or are they such a mystery right now that you really, really didn’t know?) Arguably, then, to be a progressive, one need only adhere to 7 or 8 of the 10 or so principles of the Democratic Party. Which 7 or 8 shouldn’t matter — if your ideological conceit holds.
Thus, a person who voted for Barack Obama might believe in a progressive tax system, but not believe in a woman’s right to choose. He or she might not believe in the death penalty, but believe strongly in same-sex marriage. They would be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party.
It would follow then, that to have voted for John McCain on November 4th, you would believe in about 3/4 of the 10 tenets of Republicanism. But that’s doesn’t sound right. From all of the right-wing commentary this fall, I’d come to believe that unless you adhered strictly to all of those 10 tenets (I’m still waiting for you to enumerate them for your readers) you were an apostate (see the flogging David Frum, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, et al. received for daring to suppose that Sarah Palin’s conservative base-ism might not be the right strategy for the Party’s greater good). That you might be an economic conservative with a distate for the Party’s evangelical lean seemed beyond the pale for the likes of your Corner.
The difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party isn’t so much of a fancy linguistic turnaround (“As a matter of practical politics, contemporary liberalism amounts to a coalitional ideology, while conservatism remains an ideological coalition.”). The Democratic Party spent eight years (perhaps more if you count the co-opting Clinton years) lost in the wilderness, eventually regrouping to unify and win 364 electoral votes and solidifying majorities in Congress, while the GOP spent eight years phoning it in, unpressed to come up with a single compelling reason to continue the Bush experiment. While Dick Cheney was tearing apart the Constitution in the name of conservativism, your ilk need only have giggled heartily from the offices of the National Review, watching any semblence of your true ideological movement go up in flames.
Forgive me. I’ve read your columns enough and restrained myself from responding to you, lest I go on to long with the laundry list of reasons why I believe you are completely and utterly wrong. And so, knowing we have “ideological” differences too great to bridge, I will end there.
I would love to live in a world where intellectual conservativism lives up to the same standard as progressive intellectualism. But that might be a fancy linguistic turnaround too great for the likes of yourself and your ilk (I’m thinking of William Kristol, in particular) to bear.
Until last Tuesday, I felt I had to take arguments made at, say, The Corner somewhat seriously. They were, after all, arguments that were likely to be taken seriously by people in charge of our government, and by some voters. Starting now, though, that changes.