On most days, Jonah Goldberg is simply The Corner's equivalent of a garden gnome. But every once in a while, he manages to transcend his status as a tacky, useless eyesore and reveal himself as a truly horrifying sociopath.
One such occasion, as Atrios reminds us, was his argument with Juan Cole over which of them was more knowledgeable about Iraq. Goldberg threw down this gauntlet almost two years ago:
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.Superficially, it seemed easy to take sides. Cole is a world-renowned expert on Middle East and South Asian history; he speaks and reads Arabic fluently. Goldberg, by contrast, is a barely sentient oaf whose idea of intellectual striving amounts to little more than humping abjectly at John Derbyshire’s leg. And he writes like a solvent-huffing hybrid of Midge Decter and Erma Bombeck.
Still, Jonah’s giddy claim to a superior grasp of “the big picture” remains compelling - in a sense - and I suppose it’s not completely impossible that in the next couple of months, he’ll be able to crow that he was right. Since Professor Cole felt that Goldberg’s jocular invitation to wager on the loss of life in Iraq was even more slovenly and sickening than his usual burblings, no money would actually change hands. It’d simply be another moral victory for Jonah, like his sweaty labors “in the trenches of Clinton's trousers.”
Earler today, Goldberg claimed that although the late, unlamented General Pinochet was “accountable for real crimes… the case for Pinochet over Castro is a no-brainer, both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a moral choice between the two…."
I’d argue that Pinochet’s taste for the most garish species of mutilation and torture made him particularly loathsome, but chacun à son goût, as the saying is. The easiest way for any American with a conscience to decide which of these dictators was more deplorable and demoralizing is to think about which one our country aided and abetted during his killing spree. Those, after all, are the crimes in which we’re collectively implicated, and which undermine our claim to be a civilized nation.
All of this is a preamble to the news that in his latest column, Goldberg has finally hit rock bottom:
I THINK ALL intelligent, patriotic and informed people can agree: It would be great if the U.S. could find an Iraqi Augusto Pinochet.This, I guess, is what freedom looks like when it's on the march. Almost two years ago, Goldberg predicted that Iraq would be a democracy by now, and that a majority of Iraqis would be happy about the invasion and occupation. Now, he’s slavering after a new Pinochet. And he doesn't even present it as some sad necessity. It'd simply be "great," like if they made an ice cream that had cookie dough and Oreos.
I hope my sincerity will make up for my lack of eloquence when I say that I really, really hate these fucking people.