Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jonah Goldberg: Still a putz, but so much more.


Let's take a short trip in the wayback machine to the last week of October 2006. I posted a series showing why Jonah Goldberg is putz. Specifically, the series showed 1) why Goldberg's position on Iraq--both past and at that time--was wrong, and 2) the facts as they existed before the war showed that the war was a bad idea. For the links to the series, go to the Cosmic Wheel Index and check the heading of "Goldberg, Jonah." We are about to see that Goldberg is more than a mere putz.

With that in mind, let's take a further trip in the wayback machine to two years ago. Goldberg was embroiled in what has to be called a flame war with Juan Cole, who is Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan and a well-known opponent of the Iraq war. On February 8, 2005, Goldberg took his last shot in a National Review column. Most of that column was an attack on Cole's credibility, but I am not going to address those arguments because they are pretty much irrelevant to this discussion. What is relevant is Goldberg's credibility and his ridiculous neocon bullshit. And that was on full display in the concluding paragraphs of his screed:
Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, 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). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. 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. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.
Head where your ass is, Jonah.

Of course, Jonah was completely wrong on every one of his predictions, bless his heart. However, this is not among the main points of this story.

The main points relate to Jonah's proposed bet. The main points are that Goldberg, through his reactions to calls to pay this proposed debt, has shown that he is a stupid, whiny little bitch.

The basis winger reaction

As one might expect, on February 7 and 8, 2007, the blogosphere was full of cries for Goldberg to pay the debt represented by the proposed bet and his obvious loss thereon. There is one slight problem, namely that Cole did not accept the bet. This fact was the overwhelming response of the wingerverse. But let's not focus on the entire wingerverse. Instead, let's focus on Jonah.

Goldberg's reactions
  • December 15, 2006
According to Goldberg on December 15, 2006, there was a lot of "asinine email coming my way from people bugging me to 'make good' on 'my bet' with Juan Cole from two years ago over the future of Iraq." In that same missive, Goldberg noted that Cole did not take the bet and then added
Regardless, I don't see the gotchya here. I've said many times and in many ways that the war hasn't gone well. I've even used the word the "mistake" and admitted I was wrong about much stuff.
My earlier series about Goldberg was based on his October 19, 2006, L.A. Times editorial in which he attempted to "admit" he made a mistake. As shown in that series, Goldberg did not really admit to anything. He in essence said that the war really was not a mistake because we had the best intentions; that the "anti-war crowd" made nothing but shabby arguments, was still wrong, and was anti-American; and that we did not have the information before the war that would have shown it was a mistake. Thus, Goldberg's "admission" claimed that his opponents had always been and still were wrong, that our good intentions justified any mistakes he might have made, and that he could not have known he was making mistakes because no one had sufficient facts before the war. In other words, "I really didn't make a mistake, and even if I did, it's not my fault." Read the whole series to find out in detail why almost every bit of Goldberg's "admission" is a big steaming pile of crap.

On December 15, he went on to say a few things about giving money to charity--which will be detailed later--and concluded that "maybe" he would give money to the USO, but that "I doubt I will jump through the hoops of these people." Remember that remark, for it says quite a bit about Goldberg's real concern, which is not the USO or any charity for that matter.
  • January 18, 2007
On January 18, 2007, Goldberg felt compelled to again address this situation. It was basically "same song, second verse." Nonetheless, there is some irony to it, so I will quote some of it now:
[V]arious leftwing pests are clogging my email box saying if I have any honor I will pay up for a wager Cole refused to accept and denounced me for offering. Well, guess what? The baiting doesn't work. I will give money to war-related charities, as I have done in the past, on my schedule not that of these goads or Cole or anyone else.
...I'm perfectly willing to admit that, had Cole had the courage to accept the wager, he would have won and I would have made good on it. But, since he didn't, I won't be jumping through hoops for this crowd beyond this post. his December 15 response, he said that "maybe" he would give a donation to the USO or a similar charity, and then a month later--after lots of goading--he said "I will" make such a donation. Wow, what courage. What strength! Here again we see Goldberg trying to have it both ways and failing. He defiantly said he would not give in to the asinine demands of the gadflies, and then he starts giving in to their demands while still saying he is not. Notice that on December 15, he said that maybe he would give to the USO and that he doubted he would jump through hoops. Then on January 18, he said that he would give to the USO (or related charity), but that he "won't be jumping through hoops." See, once he started to give in to the demands, he felt it necessary to say definitively that he would not do so. Moreover, in spite of his declaration that he would not be doing anything "beyond this post," he did just that.
  • February 7, 2007
On the last day of the two-year period of the proposed (and not accepted) bet, there was a rash of articles, columns, and blog posts about this story, and one appeared on the website of Editor & Publisher. On February 7, E&P asked Goldberg for his response to an article by Jeff Cohen in which Cohen proposed a way for the bet to be paid off. Goldberg's e-mail response began as follows:

I offered the bet in a foolish fit of pique with Cole.

(emphasis added). Now isn't that mature? This is a problem with all these neocon "intellectuals." They engage in name-calling as a substitute for substance, and they react like petulant little children. A bigger problem is that it is not just media types like little Jonah here that engage in such "foolish fits of pique." That pretty much describes how the Bush administration has acted for over six years, and look where that has gotten us.

Specifically regarding Cohen, Goldberg said that "Cohen knows Cole never took the bet, but he's trying to muddy the waters." Well, pot, meet kettle. Goldberg also said that
Cole refused to take the bet...[Now] it seems that his fans want it both ways. They want to extol Cole as a prince for not accepting the bet, but they want me to be held accountable to it even though he never agreed to it. Countless blogs have been dishonest about this suggesting I owe Cole himself $1,000.
(emphasis added). I have not read all of the countless blogs that have posts about this matter, but I have read about 20 articles and/or blog posts, and NOT ONE of them suggested that Goldberg owed any money to Cole. NOT ONE! The reason for that is quite simple: the proposed bet expressly said that Goldberg would pay the USO, not Cole. Goldberg is himself trying to muddy the waters, and thus is once again engaging in part of his and the neocon SOP--define the parameters of any debate in terms that suit only you--especially if you are in trouble (see Parts 2 and 8 of the previous series on Goldberg). In this case, Goldberg in effect redefined the debate in order to shift the focus to Cole, and that redefinition is false, according to how Goldberg defined the proposed bet in the first place.

Goldberg then summed up the facts again:
Indeed, I've admitted that Cole would have won. I've written that the Iraq War was a mistake...I join a long list of people whose expectations about the war and its handling turned out to be wrong in whole or in part.
Again, this is all true, but it does not change my opinion of Goldberg, which will be explained fully in the next section. But before that, let's take a look at another part of Goldberg's February 7 response.
"I will undoubtedly give more money to the USO and to similar charities in the future, as I have done in the past," he replied. "But I am adamantly opposed to jumping through hoops for the likes of Cohen and Co. Intellectual honesty requires that I admit that Cole would have won had he taken the bet. I have done that...I have no obligations to him or anybody else in this regard no matter how hard some people try to claim otherwise."
Again with the hoops and the jumping. And I have to concede that given that Cole did not accept the bet, Goldberg does not have any obligation which must be fulfilled. That being said, the totality of his actions shows that he is stupid, arrogant, and selfish. Oh yeah...and a whiny little bitch.

The explanation for my opinion: Goldberg has no obligation, but...

Goldberg is absolutely right that he has no obligation to pay off a bet that was never accepted.

However, by refusing to do so, he is missing a golden opportunity, and he is stupid for not seeing it and taking advantage of it. It's very simple. Goldberg could say the following:
Even though I have no obligation to do so because Cole refused to take my bet, I will honor the bet. Paying the bet under these circumstances is my way of trying to show that I am enough of a man to admit that my predictions were mistaken. Another reason I am making good on the bet is how I promised to pay if I lost. I promised that if I lost the bet, I would donate $1000 to the USO. In other words, I basically agreed to support our troops if I was wrong. I realized that I should do everything I can to support our troops, and that holds true whether I am right or wrong. And thus I am going to honor this bet in order to honor our troops in Iraq. I would encourage Professor Cole and all other Americans to do the same. Why not make a donation to the USO today?
This sort of response would have accomplished several things for Goldberg: 1) he would have admitted his mistake in a manly way; 2) thus negating all the claims that he was not a man and that he was dishonorable; 3) it would have shown that he was not "jumping through hoops" or buckling under pressure from the lefties, but was acting out of an interest for our troops; 4) it would have turned the situation into a positive thing about supporting the troops; and 5) it really would have put Cole on the spot, at least in much of the public's eye. If Cole really is as sanctimonious and nutty as Goldberg claims, this sort of "admission" could have been used to make his point.

Ah, but little Jonah did not react in any way similar to what I wrote. Instead, he first admitted that proposing the bet was a childish move in the first place ("foolish fit of pique"). Then he repeatedly and adamantly pointed out that Cole never accepted the bet and that therefore he (Goldberg) did not have to do anything for anybody. Then he first said that "maybe" he would make a donation to the USO, then--after being hounded by "asinine e-mails" from "left wing pests"--he said he would make a donation, but that he would not "jump through hoops" for these people.

And what makes all of this look bad is that Goldberg originally said that he would make a donation to the USO--the one group that likely everyone in this country knows exists to boost the morale of our troops. By repeatedly refusing to pay because of 1) a technicality, and 2) his desire to show that he was not "jumping through hoops," Goldberg has come across as making excuses for not wanting to support the troops. In other words, it makes him look like he is far more concerned with making sure that he wins his little spat with Cole than he is about making a donation to the USO.

That Goldberg apparently could not see this ahead of time makes him stupid. What he actually did makes him stupid. And it makes him a whiny little bitch.


Anonymous Ray said...

A good argument for heeding the biblical injunction against gambling.

2/12/2007 6:24 AM  

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