Jonah Goldberg and the National Review fan the flames of Birtherism
Some Monday mornings you wake up and you want to go back to bed. By the time the afternoon rolls around, that feeling will metastasize should you stumble upon a Jonah Goldberg blog post. And then you just wish that conservative media’s least coherent pundit would contract some kind of fungal infection on his knuckles that would keep him away from a keyboard for a few weeks while he let the anti-fungal cream do its work.
As I wrote last year, I find it amazing that the “Birthers” are considered more dangerous and evil than the “Truthers.” The Birthers believe that an ambitious man who travelled a lot as a kid has concealed the circumstances of his birth so he could be eligible for the presidency. I don’t think they’ve made their case. And, frankly, I’m not sure I’d want them to at this point. Aside from the horror of a Biden presidency, I for one don’t yearn for a constitutional crisis. And while I am sure there are more elaborate and crazier versions of Birtherism, the basic allegation isn’t that crazy, at least in the abstract.
Well, no Jonah, it actually is that crazy. Accusing a sitting president of deliberately misleading the world of his national origin in order to rise to the presidency requires an assumption that the fairly-elected man who sits before you has a level of mendacity not seen in office since the likes of Richard Nixon.
Normal people don’t start out with the assumption that a fairly-elected president is a criminal. The people who start out with the assumption that a fairly-elected president is a criminal tend to be mentally unhinged. Alternatively, they are so obsessed with challenging a sitting president’s political narrative that they construct one of their own in a process that is something like the opposite of fan fiction. It’s sort of like if Jonah were to sit down and instead of writing ‘Liberal Fascism,’ he started keeping a blog where Darth Vader and the Empire are the good guys and Luke, Leia, and Chewie want to send your grandmother to a death panel presided over by Ewoks. It’s that crazy.
Of course, Jonah knows that his own readership is composed largely of this kind of observer of American politics who thinks everyone on the political left is part of a political conspiracy that ends in either mass conversion to Islam or Chairman Mao Little Red Book rallies (or both, for the extra-confused). And he’s catering to them. Take, for instance, last August, I discovered that on a column of Jonah’s on the LA Times website, someone in the Democratic establishment had the sense to sell Google Ads for ‘FightTheSmears.com’ against what he had written. People who wanted to fight back against Birtherism were going to the places where they knew Birther-inclined Americans might be found – on a landing page on the LA Times website for Jonah Goldberg’s column.
Jonah then prattles on about how much more dangerous the 9/11 Truth Movement is than Birtherism. Of course, he does without considering the fair Venn diagram that would show overlap between Birthers and Truthers. Moreover, if a truther walks in the room, a Democrat will run screaming out of it. Here are some famous sitting Republican Members of Congress who have espoused Birther perspectives, and have not been asked to turn in their complimentary portraits of Ronald Reagan supplied by the RNC.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Charles Boustany:
And then there’s this old saw from Rep. Jean Schmidt:
You won’t find Democratic Members of Congress agreeing that there are questions about the 9/11 attacks the months after they occurred. Instead you found all but one of them voting in lockstep to authorize force against al Qaida in Afghanistan and beyond.
Jonah is giving a nudge and a wink to the people who are birthers, the people who read the garbage he recycles for the National Review and the papers that syndicate him – “hey, you guys aren’t that crazy, and you’re nothing like the truthers, who must all be leftists because I said so.”
If he’s going to keep winking and nudging, maybe that fungal infection on his knuckles could spread to his eyelids and elbows, too? Faster, please, as his colleague Michael Ledeen would say about bombing Iran.