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Alexander's Column

Jonah Goldberg's 'Terrible Week'?

Trump didn't create the hatred expressed by his adversaries; he revealed it — and likewise their contempt for his supporters.

Mark Alexander · Feb. 12, 2020
“Men must be ready, they must pride themselves and be happy to sacrifice their private pleasures, passions and interests, nay, their private friendships and dearest connections, when they stand in competition with the rights of society.” —John Adams (1776)

For three years, I’ve been pulling my punches regarding the shifting political views of one of the most amusing and engaging opinion writers I know — Jonah Goldberg. But his cynical commentary this past week elevated him to the top of my column queue. I take no pleasure in that.

So, what happened?

First, some Goldberg background that irrevocably shapes his views. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the son of the wealthy and well-connected Lucianne and Sidney Goldberg. After graduating high school in 1987, he attended Goucher College in Baltimore — a small, expensive liberal arts college that had been women-only until the year before Goldberg’s arrival. It’s a mystery as to why somebody of his considerable talent didn’t land in the Ivy League … until one considers that Goucher had a highly favorable female-to-male ratio — which is to say, good choice, Jonah!

In 1992, Goldberg moved to Washington, DC, where his exceptional conservative writing earned him a post at the American Enterprise Institute at the dawn of Bill Clinton’s era of mischief. He went from AEI to National Review in 1998, but his career in political punditry really began after his mother played a central role in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. At the time, Goldberg wrote: “My mother was the one who advised Linda Tripp to record her conversations with Monica Lewinsky and to save the dress. … I have zero desire to have those arguments again. I did my bit in the trenches of Clinton’s trousers.”

And that was classic Goldberg humor.

My favorite of his books is the signed copy he gave me on a Tennessee visit, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left. While his writing was outstanding, the claim on his second book jacket that he was a “two-time Pulitzer prize nominee” falls into the category of the overstated bluster that another Manhattanite, Donald Trump, has made famous. In fact, Goldberg has never been a Pulitzer finalist — not that he hasn’t earned the right to be. His writing is certainly better than that of Pulitzer darling Jon Meacham, whom I have known since his childhood.

Unfortunately, Goldberg, like Meacham, has become a Beltway establishment Never-Trumper, ingratiating himself within the DC Beltway cadres of the like-minded wealthy elitists. And Goldberg, like Meacham, turned 50 last year, so maybe both are experiencing a midlife identity crisis.

For his part, a few months after Goldberg reached the half-century mark, he left the hallowed conservative halls of National Review to launch a newsletter, “The Dispatch,” which, in addition to his syndicated columns, has become his primary platform to relentlessly, and often petulantly, criticize Donald Trump. He asserts that his expensive newsletter is “informed by conservative principles,” and indeed, some of his crew have resisted having their conservative perspective adulterated by the Beltway Leftmedia echo chamber. I hope Jonah will recover some of that perspective.

His newsletter reads like an editorial product of The Washington Post, which has devolved into nothing more than a Leftmedia political tabloid under the ownership of Jeff Bezos, a charter member of the billionaire “Archenemies of Liberty” club. The other socialist billionaires in that club are George Soros and Democrat Party megalomaniac manipulators Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.

And they seem to have an undue influence on Goldberg’s views, as he often mirrors their anti-Trump rhetoric.

It’s easy to trace Goldberg’s slide from the cogent conservative commentary he produced a few years back to his current caustic criticism of Trump. This, in my estimation, is a classic case of CPF — Chronic Potomac Fever, the result of drinking too much Potomac River Kool-Aid. Goldberg resides in the fashionable Beltway neighborhood of Palisades, just a stone’s throw from Barack Obama’s Kalorama house, George Will’s Chevy Chase home, and most of the other elitist DC glitterati.

While I appreciate critical conservative analysis, Goldberg has been infected with some strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome and, like George Will, now makes his reflexive attacks on Trump the centerpiece of his commentary.

Goldberg didn’t have Will’s academic pedigree, but he was nonetheless Will’s heir apparent, poised to assume his position among the most articulate of conservative commentators. But Will devolved into a pretentious and arrogant Beltway howler, and Goldberg has, sadly, joined Will’s off-key chorus. They just can’t get Trump out of their heads and, consequently, are in the throes of a great malaise, if not an outright depression.

As I’ve noted since Trump’s election, while he is an agitator, he didn’t create the fear, anger, and division expressed and fomented by his adversaries, including Will and Goldberg; he revealed it. But it’s important to note as well that Trump also exposed their contempt for his blue-collar supporters — those unwashed masses whose names are nowhere to be found on his wealthy liberal friends’ posh party guest lists.

Like the Socialist Democrats, these “conservative” elitists don’t like Trump’s brash, combative style or his grassroots American supporters, those of us who fall into what Hillary Clinton labeled a “basket of deplorables.”

These include the same working Americans who provided Ronald Reagan his landslide reelection back in 1984, and Trump may be on track to repeat that victory. But Goldberg and his cadres don’t get it. He insists that Trump’s personality is his biggest reelection obstacle.

So, what did Goldberg opine to his readership this past week to earn his billing in this column?

It was this assertion: “I didn’t want to write about the week that was, because the week was so terrible.”

“Terrible”? Here is what happened that week:

On Monday, we reported about a comprehensive survey from Gallup indicating that, despite the impending impeachment vote, Americans are very optimistic about our country. An astounding 84% said they’re satisfied with “the overall quality of life,” and “Americans’ overall satisfaction with the country’s direction is at its highest point since 2005.” Gallup also noted, “Average satisfaction across 27 issues is higher than when Trump took office.” Issues with wide satisfaction include the economy (68%), “the opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard” (72%), and military strength (81%). All three areas have gained tremendously since Trump was elected.

On Tuesday, President Trump delivered a stirring and patriotic State of the Union Address to Congress. It was arguably the best speech of his presidency, and it was applauded by the overwhelming majority of those Americans who saw it, with the notable exception of the one sitting behind him. Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up the president’s official signed SOTU transcript, and consequently The Patriot Post has filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, as expected, President Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment — “for life!” After three years of their relentless effort to undermine him and his administration with their fake Russia-collusion claims and their fabricated impeachment charade, Democrats and their Never-Trump friends were apoplectic.

On Thursday, three days after having badly botched the Iowa caucuses, Democrats were in full panic mode about Bernie Sanders. They’re now trying to sandbag his candidacy just like they did in 2016. Even seasoned Democrat strategist James Carville was issuing dire warnings.

And finally, on Friday, the week ended with a stellar jobs report — more good news for those “deplorables.”

All in all, this was a GREAT week for the Trump administration and the United States of America.

But for Goldberg and company, “the week was so terrible” he didn’t want to write about it. Of course, he did anyway and it wasn’t even about the impending China Virus epidemic

No, Goldberg declared, “The State of the Union was a gaudy and disgusting display.”

On the recognition of distinguished guests in the gallery, Goldberg disgracefully opined, “It all felt more reminiscent of Caesarian bread and circuses to me. No one wore togas … but it felt only a few clicks shy on the demagoguery meter of having the head of a conquered Gaul brought in.”

He blamed Pelosi’s disgraceful speech-shredding on Trump: “As a political matter when people stoop to Trump’s tactics like this they end up coming off bad because they’re held to a different standard.” That’s right — from the vantage point of Goldberg’s Beltway media collective, Pelosi got a bad rap because she “stooped to Trump’s tactics” and was criticized only because she’s “held to a different standard.”

As for the impeachment acquittal, Goldberg insisted, “There was one hero and it wasn’t Donald Trump.” Naturally, Goldberg’s hero of the week was the sanctimonious Mitt Romney, who claimed his “faith” caused him to side with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters and … Jonah Goldberg. (Was that same “faith” the impetus for Romney’s creation of a fake social-media handle, “Pierre Delecto,” which he used to anonymously trash Trump and defend himself?)

There’s an old adage: “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Unfortunately for Goldberg, and those of us who have for so many years admired his eloquent writing, he has dug his own hole so deep that he can no longer see the light of day. He has stooped pretty low, and his now-signature anti-Trump schtick is tiresome.

For the record, I don’t universally disagree with Goldberg’s criticism of Trump the man — particularly in regards to his disrespectful if not outright disgraceful social-media posts regarding former and current administration officials who have been loyal to their oaths “to support and defend” our Constitution. Marine Gen. James Mattis and Gen. John Kelly come to mind, among others. And there is his current flap with Attorney General William Barr, who has now rightly publicly chastised Trump for his careless social media blather.

Trump and his (apparently adolescent) social-media team make too many unforced errors that result in unfortunate caricatures of him and, by extension, his supporters. Those inexcusable errors are less frequent now, but when they occur, the MSM trumpets them.

And every time he attends the National Prayer Breakfast, as he did last week, I just squint and cringe. If only he could demonstrate a modicum of humility in deference to his support from faithful Christians, who are often ridiculed for backing Trump.

But from far outside Goldberg’s Beltway group-think media culture, we realize something Jonah doesn’t.

It is those same brash New York personality “qualities” that form the mosaic of who Trump is, and they inspire his genuine determination to Make America Great Again. As I wrote shortly after President Trump took office in 2017: “The day he arrived in DC, he dropped a bomb on the status quo in Congress and its special interests. He dropped a bomb on the regulatory behemoths and their bureaucratic bottlenecks. He dropped a bomb on the trade and national security institutions and alliances that failed miserably over the previous eight years. And he dropped a bomb on all the pundits and mainstream media outlets.”

That’s just what was needed at this juncture in history to begin draining the Beltway cesspool where Goldberg and his “smarter than thou” elite unite, and to launch a reformation of our nation’s capital institutions to once again be responsible to “We the People.” That will take more than another Trump term, but it’s a good start.

As for Goldberg’s columns, he is now at the bottom or our list of opinion writers in terms of readership. The Patriot’s editors are in discussion about whether to retain Goldberg as a dissenting voice, or dispense with his opinions.

Footnote: Hot on Jonah’s “Hate Trump” trail is his trusty Dispatch sidekick David French, who opined this week, in a painfully contorted test of faith, that either “Evangelicals owe Bill Clinton an apology” or they “can’t vote” for Trump. That is a false dichotomy – Christians can be critical of Trump and still vote for him without being, as French asserts, untrue to our faith. According to French, “‘Whatever you do,’ Paul says, ‘do all to the glory of God.’ I don’t see how it glorifies God to use the power of my vote or my voice to help make Donald Trump the world’s most powerful man.” Like Goldberg, the reason French “can’t see” is that he is blinded by his own politically pious arrogance. He overestimates the “power” of his vote and voice.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

Updated


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