That took long enough

Jonah Goldberg, a curious character. Not as insanely/shamelessly partisan as Hewitt, a man whose blithe lack of self-understanding on his viewpoints renders him impossible to argue with. Nowhere near as rabble-rousing as Rush or his many clones. Seemingly dedicated to the principle that to drop cultural references at the drop of a hat is to render every argument of his easier to absorb and accept (of course on this front I am incredibly guilty).

So today he has a column up about a certain day six years ago. It’s about what I would expect, the usual complaints about the Democrats and leftists, but there’s a fair amount of kicking Bush now that he’s fully down and is clearly not the saviour that he was supposed to be for a fair amount of allegedly aware and intelligent people and etc. That’s not something to remark upon per se, that’s just going to be the logical default position as the right desperately tries to claw back something…ANYTHING…going into 2008. The amusing thing is how much history can’t be rewritten easily thanks to the permanent archive of the Web, but that’s a subject for someone with far more time on their hands than I.

This comment, though, leaped out at me:

There are plenty of arguments one can have about the Iraq war and the uses and abuses of 9/11, but I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that the disagreements over the Iraq war are expressions of divisions that long predate it. The culture war, red vs. blue America, Bush hatred, Clinton hatred, and radical anti-Americanism poisoning much of the campus Left: All of these things were tangible landmarks on the political landscape long before the invasion of Iraq.

Well, yes. Rather obviously so.

A little background — back in July 2001, I made what I think was my few bits of predicting that came true, as part of an introduction to an essay talking about Tool’s excellent album Lateralus:

It is, of course, a brilliant time to be alive. Sure, there’s another idiotic president raising international tensions in hamhanded ways, but this one lacks ol’ Ron’s gift of the gab and is currently finding new ways to screw up and be compromised and attacked by both left and right, so I’m not too worried quite yet. And while part of me is convinced that somewhere somehow right now the past products of American foreign policy are about to result in something horrific, that’s something most people who have put their mind to it have expected for years anyway. So relax and enjoy the music.

Scarily — and I realize this only after I fully reread this for the first time in a long while — this could have been written today. Coming full circle isn’t necessarily what I expected. The part that had always stuck with me, though, was the sense that something was going to give, somewhere, soon. I wasn’t predicting 9/11, anything but, and my groping after what was already being termed ‘blowback’ was hamhanded in its own right, but still, the knowledge was there.

When it all happened, I made another predictive comment I’ve referred to once on this blog already — somewhere, I haven’t yet found where, on ILX soon after 9/11 I said that the axes everyone already had in place were being endlessly reground. The initial reactions from the usual suspects confirmed that, with Ann Coulter’s legendary rant about forcible conversion in Afghanistan being the tip of an iceberg. It was depressingly clear even then how it would all shake down in the end. Iraq merely ended up providing the overarching framework for it.

So seeing Goldberg saying what he does above, skewed as it is towards his perspective — if he thinks there hasn’t been poisoning of a similar but chauvinistic sort on the right in other venues, he’s sadly mistaken — is one of those ‘welcome to the club’ moments, with reservations. If he had always thought this, he’d been keeping it hidden, and expressing it as he does now is merely forthright cliche. The true ‘failure to realize’ that Goldberg alludes to should be applied to himself and his ideological cohorts and opponents, locked in the battles they adore to the amusement of themselves and the general disdain of most of the population.

Still, baby steps…even if they’ll probably be of a sideways kind.

2 Responses to “That took long enough”

  1. Alfred Says:

    Goldberg’s an odd duck: he seems reasonable and willing to make concessions (as he does lot when blogging), but sounds like a Townhall-a-toid when he publishes a column. Hofstadter was right: scratch the surfaces of right ideologies and out spring a host of deformed paranoid fantasies.

  2. Ned Raggett Says:

    I think it’s a logical reaction to participating in groupthink — if you see yourself as a member of a bulwark against the Collapse of Everything, then it makes sense to assume there’s an equal and opposite equivalent to you, or rather that there’s a more powerful equivalent to fight against. This applies across the board. The problem I’ve found — veering now towards a larger issue — is the fact that if you subtract the above-board political battle in the US (GOP vs. Dem, however constructed), what’s left is still resistant to a playing out of the initial American experiment, itself hardly guaranteed to succeed but now far advanced in theory if not in practice from the original assumption of limiting sanctioned societal participation to a restricted minority. I still have hopes on this front, but they are extremely conditional now.


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