Big Fat Phonies

Like most people, I became aware of Jonah Goldberg in the Clinton years. I’m going to guess and say it was during the Lewinsky stuff, but I could be mistaken. He was the guy who started the Corner on National Review and that’s where I started reading him with any regularity. His act in those days was as the slacker conservative, a sort of proto-hipster who wrote about TV shows, comic books and right-wing politics.

It worked for him because most conservative writers to that point wanted to be Bill Buckley so their style was dull, humorless and unnecessarily complex. I grew up on Buckley too, but by the 90’s his writing was incomprehensible at times. Goldberg went a different way. He was like Seth Rogan if Seth Rogan could read and write and had the slightest idea what was happening outside.

Jonah’s goofy and accessible style made him the Bart Simpson of the commentariat. In fact, he used a lot of references to the Simpsons when writing about politics, which was part of his hipster-doofus act. In the 90’s, the cool kids made Simpsons references. It’s hard to remember back that far, but in the 90’s the Simpsons were the leading edge of cool kid comedy. If you quoted lines from the Simpsons, you were cool.

That was then. Two decades on he is no longer the snarky Bart Simpson. He’s more like the bloated has-been, Krusty the Klown. He’s long past being funny, but he has been around long enough where he feels like a fixture. Instead of the cheeky prankster, he is the jaded hack. It’s not hard to imagine that the guy who wrote this did so after yelling at the neighbor kids about making too much noise.

The Alt-righters. The less said about these creatures, the better. Mostly composed of Twitter and comment-section trolls, this coprophagic phylum is convinced Trump is the tip of the spear of some new white-nationalist takeover of the party and the country. They think it’s hilarious to bait Trump’s critics with Klan-vintage racism and Nazi-style anti-Semitism. Probably my biggest complaint about the benighted is the degree to which they make apologies for the bigots or don’t care that the bigots speak in their name.

Goldberg was an original anti-Trump for petty personal reasons. Trump used to make fun of him on twitter and guys like Goldberg don’t take criticism well. The carefully cultivated funny guy act he does on TV hides a thin-skinned narcissist. Goldberg earlier went full-on David Brock and participated in a smear campaign run by National Review, claiming Trump was in the KKK. Goldberg has made the trip from goofy conservative to sneering social justice warrior.

The panic over Trump is not just petty and personal. Trump by himself can be dismissed, which is what they were all prepared to do a year ago. The issue is his success, because it reveals things about the Right they would just as soon not face. The truth is, guys like Goldberg are not all that interested in small government, traditional solutions and cultural stability. Those are just lines in his script for his role as the Seth Rogan of TV conservatism.

Goldberg popped out of college and landed in a job at American Enterprise Institute assisting Ben Wattenberg making PBS specials. He then went over to National Review, which, as I a pointed out the other day, is like every political magazine in that it lives off tax deductible grants from rich people. That got him into cable news, which exists solely off its right to tax every home in America a buck a month, whether they watch or not and 95% don’t watch.

The point here is that Goldberg has spent his life living off government. The million dollar home in the swank DC suburb is paid for by government in that his livelihood is entirely dependent on government. His wife, Jessica Gavora, worked in the Bush administration and you can be sure the two of them were rubbing their hands together thinking about her next gig in the third Bush administration.

Big sprawling government has given Jonah a 1% lifestyle. How serious is he about shrinking government? Put that reality next to the results of the Bush years and the conservative response to Obama and people can be forgiven for thinking guys like Jonah are just big fat phonies. These are cocktail party conservatives who were toted to the party by their traveling buddies, the limousine liberals.

Washington DC is Hollywood for homely people. It is a company town and everyone works for the company in some capacity. They may bitch about the company, in the same way actors and writers bitch about the big studios, but they will defend it to the death in the same way Hollywood tries to choke off independent film. The #nevertrump loons are the circus performers of DC baring their fangs, warning the rest of us to stay away from their turf.

43 thoughts on “Big Fat Phonies

  1. Pingback: The Return of The Mule | The Z Blog

  2. I liked Jonah for similar reasons but the old man grumpy stuff is a complete bore. I suspect that the people who harp the most about principles are really motivated by money and/or pride.

  3. Liberal Fascism was excellent. My take isnt quite as harsh. I think these guys do yeoman’s work when developing policy prescriptions. When they delve into politics it’s like watching a 140 lb sports writer step on the field as part of the offensive line.

    They are totally unqualified for it.

  4. I read Goldberg’s article denouncing the ‘alt.right’ and thought to myself, here are RINOs who spent so much time running from and kowtowing to the Democrat narrative about racism that they’ve forgotten how to stand up.

  5. I remember liking Jonah, particularly his book Liberal Fascism, but perhaps he and the rest of the NR group can only imagine that they are the caretakers of Bill Buckley’s legacy. They would never venture out themselves and invent something like National Review as it was but they will dust the furniture and take there annual cruises to think great thoughts. As one writer put it when considering Trump, “When the Barbarians are not just at the gate but in the city you had best join with any swashbuckler willing to swing a blade and fight. Discussions about clean up can come after the battle is won.” Jonah’s biggest concern is that some of the furniture will get damaged.

  6. Jonah always reminded me more of clumsy Peter Griffin from Family Guy, than snarky Bart Simpson.

  7. I have reached the point where I often read an author’s bio before their article.

    Live in DC, NY, or LA? I might read the article but with a healthy does of skepticism. Among the reasons I like Victor Davis Hanson and Mark Steyn is the fact that they write from the receiving end of big government.

    Most of the writers for National Review and even Reason live in the heart of big government country and it seeps into their writing. Nick Gillespie, for instance, is next to useless now and writes a couple of “Trump sucks” articles a week.

    • The irony of Reason Magazine always makes me laugh. All those John Galt loving individualist living off rich guys and tax subsidies. If you’re going to preach libertarianism, you better be supporting yourself by your own efforts.

  8. The fact is, if any of these turds had principles, they wouldn’t be in the ruling class. There’s a reason All The King’s Men is a classic — it’s impossible to resist the slide from “I need power to affect change” to “I’m doing the Lord’s work, so anything that is good for me is by definition for the Greater Good.” Even if you’re a philosopher king, the historical track record isn’t good. Plato botched the overthrow of Dionysius of Syracuse, and the Poles didn’t much care for Rousseau’s proposed constitution. I think Locke or somebody also tried to draw up a constitution for an overseas settlement… it didn’t go well. Life was much better when courtiers knew they were courtiers, and behaved as such.

  9. What’s with the “coprological” and the preoccupation with feces and the places it comes from that is a repetitive theme? A shrink would have a field day with that.

  10. So if you rise to the top of the coprophagic phylum, does that make you a sh1+lord?

  11. I don’t understand how you are dissapointed that the Republicans have not fought hard enough against the creeping growth of government as well as more or less uninterested in holding back the leftist war on culture – so the right response is to elect a big government liberal who is very comfortable using government power on the Rebublican ticket???? How does this make sense????

    • About six months ago, I decided that having explained this a thousand times and a thousand ways, people who keep asking me this are either a) too stupid to get the answer or b) unwilling to accept the answer. But, here it goes, one more time.

      Another Bush republican who will spend like mad and start a bunch of pointless wars, while discrediting opposition to the Left for a generation is one option. The other option is another liberal democrat who will do all the same things the Bush republican will do, plus some worse stuff. Trump, while not a conservative, is a third option. He won’t do anything about spending most likely. He will draw down the endless wars and he will try to get the borders under control. Because he is a great salesman, he may even get tax reform through Congress.

      Even if he does none of those things, I’ve lost nothing. Trump is simply the lowest risk option. He’s a roll of the dice, but a low risk roll of the dice.

      • I despise Hillary and would be temped to vote for the con man just to keep her out. Browsing through your site though reminds me that a large number of trumpkins will vote for him out of sheer envy and economic illiteracy.

        Trump is the high risk option as he will cut deals with the democratic minority and whichever republicans will go along to expand the government’s reach. As soon as he is elected he will turn his back on the useful supporters who got him there.

        A vote is not just a choice between the lesser of two evils but also an endorsement, I will not endorse him this fall. Our best hope is 4 more years of gridlock

          • I’m curious, just what do you Trumpkins expect the great Donald will do once he’s in office and freed from the self imposed constraints of weaker men?? Do you think he has some magic wand that will reorder the economy so that everyone has well paid, fulfilling jobs? Stop the plague of political correctness by the force of his magnetic personality? Deport all illegals for his weird touchback amnesty?

          • Like I said, you are too stupid to understand any of this so there’s no point in trying to explain it to you. Boring and stupid is a terrible curse. I pity you, but I have no obligations to you.

          • Probably stupid like dumber than a box of rocks. Or a troll, did I repeat myself?
            Which is kind of funny, while he is all front of the bus and everything, the crux of it there is no voting our way out of this.

          • Um, do you think someone that has run a successful business might have an idea about how to create jobs? And which do you think would be more likely to have an administration of people that have experience in job creation: the political hack that sells herself for financial gain or the businessman that already has money and power? We’ve been lied to before, but Trump’s ego will drive him to be successful.

          • REPORTER: So, Bizarro Superman, are you endorsing a candidate in the U.S. Presidential election?

            BIZARRO: Me is principled conservative, so me voting for Hillary!

        • I used to be interested in policy, but I now believe that the bureaucratic juggernaut will roll over us until one day the American experiment will be dead. I like Trump because he throws high hard ones at the heads of the elites of both parties. Cowards, each time they hit the dirt they are a bit less interested in getting up. It’s a pleasure to watch.

  12. (You can’t make something like this up)…One of the leaders of the Black Tantrums Matter movement was arrested on 7 counts of human trafficking and prostitution charges.
    I understand, now I could be wrong mind you, being I’m a Christian White man, and privileged don’t you know, being a pimp selling teenage girls for sex is “slavery” by any other name. But it is all a mistake, see, “conservative Trolls” started a false narrative on Facebook:

    ‘BlackLiesMatter – Activist Group Leader Arrested For Sex Trafficking, Blames “Conservative Trolls”

    But it gets better…

    “…Wade, No. 40 on The Root’s 100 most influential black activists, was also invited Tuesday by the White House to a movie screening with other Black Lives Matter activists…”

  13. “…coprophagic phylum…”

    Guessing he had to dig deep into his online thesaurus for that one, or else reach back (if his recall was even that good) to his High School biology class.

    I’m betting on the former.

    What a douchebag.

  14. A lot can be said about the Neocon take over of Conservatism, inc. The role of Jews, Trostkyits, Israel in what goes on in Washington opinion makers but Trump was able to awaken many “Bluepill Conservatives” to this reality.

  15. If there has been one note struck over and over by the pajama boys of beltway (Goldberg and the rest of the NR snivelers, Douthat, Erickson, etc.) and one that they must assume that their dwindling readers never tire of hearing, is the ceaseless refrain on how principled they are. From those airy and unsullied heights they deign to condescend to the rest of us dirty, ignorant rubes wallowing up to our ears in the Trumpening. It’s good to be reminded so often that we know not what we do.

    I like to pick on Douthat, because I find him a particularly egregious example, but I can only wonder when the application of principle will find some wider application – such as when Ross discovers that his employer works against everything he supposedly stands for. One would only expect, from such a principled fellow, that his withdrawal from the cushy assignment as the Times’ kept “conservative” to happen at any moment now.

  16. I find it kind of interesting that Goldberg’s wife grew up in Alaska. I’ve always dated his swerve into hackery to the time he started writing a bunch of sneering columns about Sarah Palin back in 2008. I’ve always wondered if there was some personal animosity there. On the other hand, maybe that was just the year that NR became a completely bought and paid for mouthpiece for big donors so he was just sneering at Palin to pay the rent on his pants.

  17. Don’t forget that he didn’t just “happen” to land a job at a think tank. Nobody gets a job at those places without connections. His parents are rich and connected, and they pulled strings for him.

    • Oh yeah. His mother has an interesting bio. She was caught stealing from the JFK White House. She worked on Nixon’s dirty tricks team. She was involved in the Lewinsky stuff.

      Jonah turned a corner after his father and brother died. He stopped being funny and has grown increasingly bitter. This is not unusual. It’s had to face the reality of life with a smile.

  18. I read Goldberg’s entire complaining article, God help me. I can’t believe how utterly blind these people are. He can’t vote for Trump because a) he has to look at himself in the mirror, b) he needs to be able to sleep at night, c) he has *principles*, d) his vote doesn’t matter anyway. And there are probably a few more. Not ONE of these nose-in-the-air Buckleyites would have considered this an acceptable position for a disappointed Republican voter in 2008 or 2012, and there were plenty of them. For the little people “Stakhanovite partisan water-carrying” is expected. People like him, though, have a higher calling. For little nobodies, “when push came to shove, I’d head out to the RNC well and carry its water as instructed” but HE is bound to the high and lonely calling of standing aloof like a sulky brat, too good to sully himself with these inferior choices.

    • Yeah.. I just “loved” looking at myself in the mirror the day after I voted for McCain! it was awesome! And in 2012, when I couldn’t sleep at night after holding my nose and voting for Romney/Ryan only to see them lose to the most divisive President ever… yeah… good times. I totally empathize with Goldberg… not.

  19. Happened to be watching my daughter’s tennis lesson (and wearing a ball cap with my alma mater). A woman walks up and tells me her son is graduating from there next month. Asked what he wants to do. “Go to work for a think tank in Washington focusing on economic policy”…so ask the natural question, “wouldn’t some actual experience in the economy help out if one is formulating “economic policy?”” “Well, it’s really hard to find a job in the private sector so he’d rather just start with a think tank.” ‘Nuf sed.

    • My sense is we are peak think tank and the whole racket is going to come undone. I’m open to violent revolution, shipping these people to the lithium mines in Afghanistan, but I don’t think it will be necessary.

      • If only there were some djinn out there who were willing to make a deal, I’d give my left testicle to make the penal-colony thing happen!

      • I like that. There are some guys trying to get a lithium operation up and running out in Nevada. Would make Afghanistan look like Palm Beach.

  20. Hollywood for homely people, or how some put it, “Politics is show business for ugly people”.

    Googling that lead me to this fine article:
    Celebrity Government: Show Business for Ugly People:

    “The list of parallels (between L.A. and D.C.) is now quite lengthy:

    —Both towns are virtually immune from the normal economic cycle. When recessions come, people still go to the movies, and tax money still flows into Washington (and if it doesn’t, Washington simply borrows the money). Result: Neither town suffers much fluctuation in employment, and neither shares in whatever distress is happening in America’s heartland.

    —I used to say that Hollywood producers—the key figures behind the scenes who make things happen—have a close Washington analogue: political consultants, who “produce” campaign and issue strategies for the office holders. (In fact, some political consultants transplanted to Hollywood to make “The West Wing” back in the 1990s.) Hollywood has sets, sound stages, and thousands of “extras” to fill up movie scenes; Washington has legions of bureaucrats as “extras” to fill up the political dramas, and magnificent classical facades on its buildings as “sets.” And then I came across this George Clooney comment to Fade In magazine in the fall 2005:

    “Washington is so similar to Hollywood; they’re mirror images of each other. They’re the only one-industry towns that I’ve ever seen in my life. You get in a cab in LA you’ll have a driver who barely speaks English, talking about last-might’s box office numbers, and if you get into a cab in Washington, you’ll have a driver who barely speaks English, talking about the energy bill; you go into a bar in Washington, and instead of some B-actor that walks in, it’s a congressman. All the lobbyists are like actors. The props are big and made of marble. But there are real similarities between those two towns. It’s intoxicating and infuriating.”

    The trouble with a culture of celebrity is that it breeds insularity. Just as Hollywood provides a very partial and distorted reflection of the real world in the entertainment it produces, so too a celebrity-obsessed Washington is increasingly distant from the perceptions and concerns of ordinary Americans who never come to Washington except as tourists.”

    With more examples in the linked article.

  21. “His wife, Jessica Gavora, worked in the Bush administration and you can be sure the two of them were rubbing their hands together thinking about her next gig in the third Bush administration.”

    “Rubbing their hand together”, it’s a mention to the happy merchant?

Comments are closed.