I never understood how Jonah Goldberg, who rose to media prominence out of his defense of mother Lucianne (friend/advisor to Linda Tripp...) and her Clinton-hating cohorts, has stayed on in respected conservative pundit circles. It just doesn't seem like the kind of credential that could or should lead to a syndicated column.
Middle East expert Juan Cole (University of Michigan!) has had enough. Their spat began over the weekend after Goldberg took Cole to task for saying the Iranian elections in 1997 were more democratic than the recent Iraqi elections. Cole's response is here. To give you an idea, it starts like this:
"I think it is time to be frank about some things. Jonah Goldberg knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can't read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq's neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres. Why should we pretend that Jonah Goldberg's opinion on the significance and nature of the elections in Iraq last Sunday matters? It does not."And then it gets better.
Jonah, unbelievably, explains why he's not on the front lines himself. Does he even know who's fighting there now?
Cole's disbelief over Jonah's excuse for not fighting is here.
Cole's most recent smack-down here helps to raise more general questions of authority and today's media, as well as raising this logical but underpresented argument: young men (Goldberg was one in 2002) who believe their country must go to war and argue for it, but do not volunteer to go themselves, are cowards and hypocrites.
[UPDATE] Goldberg's "final" response is here. Cole's "final" rebuke is here.
I still don't understand Jonah's ascendancy on the right. I suppose being anti-Clinton-enough is enough. It's one of the reasons why I try not to write too authoritatively about, well, anything except my own exasperation and confusion over what's happening and why.