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.