2/08/2005

Stupid TV pundit tricks

One of my favorite bloggers, Juan Cole of informed Comment, unloads on Jonah Goldberg, the idiotic National Review writer and TV pundit who pontificates about Iraq yet has never even read a book about it. In doing so, he sums up nicely what is wrong with all stupid TV pundits:
In the end, I am saying that Goldberg's punditry is empty. All he has to offer us is a party line and a strongly held opinion. Not all pundits are in this category. Goldberg is particularly unsubstantive.
Then one of my readers suggested that if he was so in favor of killing people abroad, he might want to make the sacrifice to go do it himself instead of sending others. He replied that his family needs the money he gets from his work and that he has a daughter! This response made me embarrassed for him.
Although I do not believe that everyone who advocates a war must go and fight it, I do believe that young men who advocate a war must go and fight it. Goldberg was in his early 30s in 2002, and the army would have taken him. An older colleague who was at Harvard in 1941 told me about how the freshman class rushed to enlist. That was the characteristic of the Greatest Generation-- they put their money where their mouths were. Goldberg's response was insulting to all the soldiers fighting in Iraq who have suffered economically and who are remote from their families.
I don't think there is anything at all unpatriotic about a young man opposing a war and declining to enlist. But a young man (and this applies to W. and Cheney too) who mouths off strongly about the desirability of a war is a coward and a hypocrite if he does not go to fight it.
But Goldberg is just a dime a dozen pundit. Cranky rich people hire sharp-tongued and relatively uninformed young people all the time and put them on the mass media to badmouth the poor, spread bigotry, exalt mindless militarism, promote anti-intellectualism, and ensure generally that rightwing views come to predominate even among people who are harmed by such policies. One of their jobs is to marginalize progressives by smearing them as unreliable.
The thing that really annoyed me about Goldberg's sniping was it reminded me of how our country got into this mess in Iraq. It was because a lot of ignorant but very powerful and visible people told the American people things that were not true. In some instances I believe that they lied. In other instances, they were simply too ignorant of the facts to know when an argument put forward about, say, Iraq, was ridiculous.

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