Jonah Goldberg is Only Half Wrong

Which makes him twice as right as Bill Kristol. Ba-boom tssshh. Thanks, I'll be here as long as the internet exists. Make sure you tip your server. Get it?

Helen Rittelmeyer Todd SeaveyIn case you hadn't heard, a guy named Todd Seavey dished on his ex-girlfriend Helen Rittelmeyer in front of her and the BookTV cameras recently. Who? Good question. Just some right-wingers who wrote essays for Jonah Goldberg's latest project, Proud To Be Right. The silly story blew-up across the intertubes so I'd thought I'd get in on the search action. The exchange is pretty funny, check it out.

Being a BookTV nerd and glutton for punishment, I had recorded the whole show and started watching it over the weekend. However, it was just an hour, instead of the full 90 minutes, so it started just before Goldberg gives his "elder statesmen" summary and opens the floor to questions. Thus I got to see him in all his glory (hole) before I grew weary from the discussion.

Jonah GoldbergAnd I was unpleasantly surprised that Goldberg made a little sense. Click the picture to watch the segment I'm going to review. Or here if you want to actually watch the whole thing. I started it off at an especially easy spot to ridicule:

GOLDBERG: We live in this very Orwellian world, where we're told that the mass crowd of young people, who ....

I wish I could tell you why Goldberg thinks the world is Orwellian, but he digresses into youngsters' foibles and never returns to the point. The next part, however, is half right.

GOLDBERG: Barack Obama, who is moping like a big dog whose food bowl has been moved, because young people aren't supporting the Democrats as much as he thinks they should. He's wagging his finger and Joe Biden is calling them whiners, and Obama's talking to Rolling Stone magazine saying how if you're not going to stick with the Democrats in the mid-term elections you're not serious. And I have to question whether you ever were serious.

Wrong - Obama and Biden were trashing the Professional Left, not young voters.

Right - Obama's lengthy statement in Rolling Stone was outrageous. At the end of the interview:
[Signaled by his aides, the president brings the interview to a close and leaves the Oval Office. A moment later, however, he returns to the office and says that he has one more thing to add. He speaks with intensity and passion, repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger.]

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward. The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

Everybody out there has to be thinking about what's at stake in this election and if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years on key issues like climate change, key issues like how we restore a sense of equity and optimism to middle-class families who have seen their incomes decline by five percent over the last decade. If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money's coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.

We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place. If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.
Do I need to say anything other than provide some links? Has the White House Lost Their Minds? by David Dayen, Steve Benen, Obama's Defense by Kevin Drum, and Hectoring the Base: It’s Not About GOTV, It’s About Laying the Blame from Jane Hamsher.

GOLDBERG: If you bought into that Pepsi commercial of a campaign, with the hope and the change and the changey hope and the hopey changeyness, and all that kind of stuff, um, if you bought all the stuff about turning the tide of the oceans or cleaning up the streets of all the unicorn poop that we can turn into energy, right, if you bought all that stuff, that meant that you were unserious. The reason why so many young people are starting to turn, not in huge numbers, alas, but why they're starting to turn, or they're not interested in Obama and the Democrats in the mid-term elections, is precisely because 20 months of incredibly high structural unemployment for young people is making them serious. ... And now finally, when it looks like the country is really going into the toilet, that's making a lot of these people serious. And for [Obama], it is this amazing sign of narcissism and arrogance to say "Gosh, they believed my BS back then and they're not believing it now, that shows that they're not serious" and it shows that he had bought into it more than anybody else this sort of cult of youth.

Wrong - First, this isn't about youth, see above. Second, "20 months of incredibly high structural unemployment for young people" would tend to make them mad about the status quo - agreed. But it sure isn't driving them into the arms of the Republicans. If they suddenly become serious, they are likely to say Obama isn't doing enough to stimulate the economy, the exact opposite of the GOP platform. Third, Obama was not deriding people for realizing that campaign promises are BS. Rather he is slamming the base of the Democratic party for criticizing him. And yes, that is an amazing sign of narcissism and arrogance. So Goldberg right, but for the wrong reason.

Right - Looking back, it was a Pepsi commercial of a campaign. But when your primary competitor is Coke, all you've got is marketing and advertising, right? As for the general, at least Pepsi's commercials were authentic, even if they were slick. "Country First" and Sarah Palin - really?

GOLDBERG: The real rebels in society, in general, aren't young people. The most faddish, conformist people in America - in any society - tend to be young people. That's why marketers go after them. ... The real rebels in society are these cranky old dudes you see on the beach with black socks, walking around with loafers, who demand their early bird special even though they got to Sizzler late.

Wrong - Marketers go after everybody. I don't think young people are the target market for Viagra vs. Extense. And no, those old dudes aren't rebelling, they are just cranky, unfashionable and have a strong sense of entitlement. Hey - they're conservatives!

Right - Young people are faddish. Congratulations on that insight, Jonah.

GOLDBERG: I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We were like one of the only conservative families there. We were like Christians in ancient Rome.

Wrong - Victim complex, anyone? If only Lucianne Goldberg was fed to the lions.

Right - Nothing.

That's better. Now my previous image of Goldberg can go back to where it should be.