Jonah Goldberg Is Not Smart


Not sure why anyone would waste time reading anything written by Jonah Goldberg, but then I whiled away a few minutes reading a review of Goldberg’s latest turd, so…

Alex Pareene writes, in part:

The full title of the new one is “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.” (Yes, the title “The Tyranny of ___” is itself a cliché. It’s by no means the only one Goldberg employs in the book.)

I just opened “The Tyranny of Clichés” to a random page. It is the start of Chapter 9, “Slippery Slope,” and it begins with quotations from Hume, Lincoln and T.S. Eliot. Then we’re treated to the prose of Mr. Jonah Goldberg, who is here to share his presentation on “slippery slopes.” It reads very much like a high school student’s essay assignment:

Ultimately slippery slope arguments are a mixed bag. They are useful as a way to reinforce good dogma, but they are also used to reinforce bad dogma. Similarly they can scare us away from bad policies and good policies alike. There are good slippery slope arguments and bad ones for good ends and bad ends.

What insight! What a masterful grasp of nuance! Let’s try one of our own: Airplanes can be used for good things and bad things. Some airplanes carry medicine or ice cream, but other airplanes carry bombs or bad people. But an airplane with bombs might be good because the bombs are for using on bad guys, and on the other airplane maybe the ice cream has melted.

Throughout the book, Goldberg brings his disposable Bic-sharp wit to bear on the most deserving straw men he can imagine. From the chapter on “Let Them Eat Cake”:

The notion that today’s rich are the most likely to say ‘let them eat cake!’ is a form of cultural propaganda. To be sure, there are many wealthy and politically conservative individuals who are out of touch with the hardships of poverty. But the most obvious inheritors of the cocooned arrogance and self-indulgence we associate with members of the monarchical courts of Europe are to be found not in boardrooms, but among the most celebrated liberals of American life: Hollywood celebrities.

The celebrities whose excesses Goldberg goes on to document — those he deems “among the most celebrated liberals of American life” — are Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, John Travolta, (Republican) Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger and Sean Penn. Ah yes, the modern American aristocracy.

The book is, plainly, another dumb piece of assembly line conservative argument, gussied up with extensive footnotes. It will not impress any academics or intellectuals and it will not get the blood of true believers boiling with indignation. (It will likely sell well, thanks to bulk orders and conservative book clubs.) The phony Pulitzer bragging, that bit of slightly sad résumé-enhancement, is Goldberg all over: Desperate to impress, but utterly unconvincing.

(click here to continue reading Jonah Goldberg’s desperation – Editor’s Picks –

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