TO my knowledge Jonah Goldberg's one claim to public honesty--aside from unintentional revelation--is that he was the only founder of Bush Derangement Syndrome, then called Bush Hatred, who admitted to actual hatred for Bill Clinton, which for his co-founders (Rich Lowry, Chuckles Krauthammer) was apparently a hypothetical construct, as they'd never observed any firsthand. In fact Clinton Hatred was admitted only so Bush Hatred could be ten-thousand times worse. And this came at a time--late Summer, 2003--when Bush and the war were both ridin' high, minor grumbles--looting, electricity, and the failure to capture Saddam Hussein--were too low-pitched to spoil a Mission already Accomplished, and the panties Peggy Noonan was wearing when she wrote "steely-eyed rocket man" had just sold on eBay for $1250. Somehow the nine-year Clinton hunt, which included accusations of murder, cocaine trafficking, and rape, fingered Hillary as triggerperson for the Vince Foster hit, and publicly wished death on their daughter from the pages of the National Review Online was ethically trumped by the fact that Julian Bond said something bad about Bush. Because Julian Bond is, well, you know.
As you're probably aware, the idea rolled downhill from these august intellectual heights to the Republican spitwad shooters crouching several inches below. No doubt it still pokes its misshapen little head above the ramparts from time to time. I have no idea whether, at a time when Bush's popularity could not fall further without our availing ourselves of integers, Goldberg's fellow founders still make use of the concept. I see no reason to read Krauthammer regularly when one can simply look him up in Kraft-Ebbing.
But then here's Jonah, whose column today rouses itself from a five-day Twinkee coma, still running his hands over the sweet nude flank he was caressing before he woke up:
Perhaps the answer is that when it comes to bashing Bush about the war, no accusation is inaccurate — even if it contradicts all the accusations that came before. Some say it’s all about the Israel lobby. Others claim that Bush was trying to avenge his dad. Still others say Bush went to war because God told him to.
Which is it? All of those? Any? It doesn’t seem to matter. It’s disturbing how many people are willing to look for motives beyond the ones debated and voted on by our elected leaders.
Or so long as one agrees with 'em.
It's four years since the invention of Bush Hatred, born at a time when the Goldbergs and the Lowrys and the Kruathammers were not just pealing our victory in Iraq but already pre-celebrating victories over Syria and Iran. Four years beyond Six Months, Tops. You'd think they'd have figured out it no longer requires a pathological aversion to Mr. Bush or his politics to bash him over Iraq. The facts do so quite nicely.
Look, it's not only the height of bleedin' idiocy to pretend that absent oil reserves and the State of Israel our foreign policy would have taken any particular interest in Saddam Hussein. It would also be self-defeating, except Reality's already kicked your ass. Who was he going to threaten once that centrifuge was in full operation? To act, now, as if oil had nothing to do with it, as if we were just really really unhappy that a Bad Man had gassed his own people--a people we'd sold out a couple of times in recent history, a Bad Man we'd armed--is to beg the question of what we imagined we were squandering American lives and treasure for, let alone what we're still doing there, still doing both.
Why is it, exactly, that failed-war-floggers are so eager to send the military off on Operation Save What I Imagine Is Left Of My Face, but scruple at such simple truths? These are the same people who've been speaking openly about an American Empire for the past decade, but the minute someone suggests we're in Iraq because Iraq has oil you can actually hear the sounds of fans being fluttered and smelling salts being administered. Why do we get the same reaction whenever military conscription gets mentioned? I understand the reluctance to admit the disastrous results of a nearly laboratory-pure test of your post-Vietnam foreign policy ideas. But why is there such a problem in admitting the facts of your own case?
One more thing: I think it should now be enshrined somewhere that Goldberg's reaction--as well as that of every other right-wing punditaster who's trumpeted Greenspan's "recantation" over what he wrote in a book--is that anyone who now says "I was misunderstood" is believed without reservation, in spite of the circumstances.