But I just have a hard time listening to liberals grow suddenly high-brow and Ivy League serious about the paranoid style of the American Right. Where were these people for the last eight years when abject paranoid hysteria consumed the left flank of liberalism and threatened to capsize the entire enterprise?
Which is a good point; for eight long years, liberals were all like "wars based on bullshit are stupid," "Bush is going to wreck the economy," "torture is bad," "global warming is real" — all of which was just plain wacky.
Goldberg is of course being a moron here; for one thing, he’s going after this George Packer article because "the liberal establishment, starting with Hofstadter and Adorno, have perfected the art of proclaiming paranoia or populism they don’t like as ‘right-wing’ when — often, but not always — there’s nothing right-wing about it." Which mostly goes to show that Goldberg was as usual too bovine to manage reading to the end of the article, where Packer reminds us that during the Depression FDR was worried about populism from the (drumroll) Left (d’oh! Nice thesis, Jonah) in the person of Huey Long, and that nowadays "The popular passions that nearly made Long a dictator, though, are still with us, and they could whip left, right, or both simultaneously." Goldberg, what a maroon.
But there’s a wider issue with this Goldbergian crap, one which Jesse gets to, making the key point that since "conservatism" is so utterly vapid, paranoia is the conservative’s default state: "Having such a reactionary, formless ideology makes you inherently paranoid, and drastically more so than the left." Hehindeed.
Predictably enough, Jonah obligingly proves this in his very silly follow-up, where he does one of his favorite stupid Jonah tricks and complains that wicked, confused liberals "nitpick my examples" (i.e., "refute my evidence") and so he’s going to come up with more! more! more! wacky fun examples of liberal "conspiracies." And the best part here is that all of his new examples are moronic (as they’re not "conspiracies," but at worst name-calling), trivial, or… paranoid. My favorite of these is one that achieves the trifecta, namely the charge that, most wickedly, Michael Moore (who is fat) "sat in Jimmy Carter’s box at the 2004 Democratic Convention." Which is a standard Grave and Serious Charge of the right blogosphere, one that has the virtue of being both highly misleading (see here) and also hilarious, insofar as Jonah Goldberg denouncing Michael Moore, or anyone, really, for being a dishonest ideologue is quite the edifying spectacle (or not). What, Jonah thinks he’s people now?
Likewise, Jonah sniffing at Hillary Rodham Clinton for referencing a "vast right-wing conspiracy" is just plain wonderful, because there is absolutely no question that there was such a conspiracy. He concludes with a wonderfully flatulent declamation:
The point is that when liberals and leftists spout conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions — as they have for generations now — it’s written off by the liberal establishment as either an isolated incident, or an understandable exaggeration or, simply, the truth and therefore not a conspiracy theory. And: It Is Annoying.
Hee hee. The truth certainly is annoying to Jonah Goldberg, something we’ve known for quite some time. As it is to conservatives generally. Which is, again, exactly the point.