Jonah Goldberg is a complete joke; that’s no secret. He argues for a living, and yet he has the argumentative skills of a whoopie cushion; he is a professional writer whose writing skills never progressed passed being singled out in 7th grade as being a better speller than most of the class; and he extruded a best-selling book about fascism that wouldn’t have passed muster in a community college history course. He has a history of crowd-sourcing even the minimal levels of ‘research’ he puts into his writing, and for his latest book, he couldn’t even be bothered to write it himself; it’s just a collection of essays by other people passed off as a new thing from the special mind of Jonah.
That even this shabby effort is being hyped by Goldberg in the skeeviest possibly way should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his ill-tempered weasel of a career. Tintin at Sadly, No! has the whole story, but in brief:
– Jonah linked to a rave review of Proud to Be Right.
– The review turned out to be by two of the contributors to Proud to Be Right.
– When questioned about the propriety of linking to a ‘review’ of his book by two of the people who wrote it, Jonah claimed to not know that they were contributors to the book, even though it is being published with his name on the cover.
Now, here’s the thing. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with self-promotion; everybody whores out their own work, me included. There’s nothing really wrong with getting your friends and colleges to hype your book, either; log-rolling may be a bit dubious, but it’s certainly not unusual or unexpected. Linking to a review of a book by the people who helped write the book, and then claiming you didn’t know that they were contributors to it…well, that’s pretty ludicrous by any reckoning, but even that isn’t what’s so galling.
What really leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that all this back-scratching, log-rolling, insider trading, and mutual masturbation is being done by the very people who unceasingly teach the gospel of individual achievement, of bootstrapping and meritocracy, of ideas succeeding or failing in the market based solely on their virtue. These are the people who are most likely to scoff at the idea of anyone getting help from anyone else, especially the government. They’re the people who say they shouldn’t have to pay taxes because they work so hard for their money. They’re the people who praise self-reliance above all, who hold themselves up as models of accomplishment, who portray themselves as the self-made men of the American dream. It’s the whole basis of their ideology — and it’s 100% phony.
They’re just like the people who insist on the value of hard work, thrift, and just doing it, while never mentioning the hundreds of thousands of dollars their parents gave them to start their businesses. It’s not the advice that’s so obnoxious; it’s that it comes from people who didn’t follow it and pretend they did, who were with silver spoons in their mouths and pretend they bought it with money from their first lemonade stand. They live off of conservative think tank grants and billionaire businessman welfare and preach the importance of self-reliance; they work for state schools, federal agencies and tax-funded organizations and decry the evils of government aid.
Jonah Goldberg got a cushy job because of his mother, and instead of turning in excellent work to prove that he was his own man, that he could succeed on his own merits, he took it as a cue to take the rest of his career off. Any real conservative who genuinely believes in meritocracy should be ashamed of him; and for him to lecture liberals about the value of individualism and the evils of mutual aid is beyond insulting. He’s a bad writer, a worse rhetorician, he turns in the minimum of work required and begs off when he’s called out on anything. He does incredibly shabby research, can’t defend his own claims, and, when called out on some flagrant lie, pretends he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s a total disgrace: a lazy and arrogant boss who got his job through nepotism and yet spends all day lecturing his employees about the value of hard work and making it on your own.
Getting your friends to talk about how great your work is, well, that’s one thing. Getting your friends to talk about how great your work is when they’re the ones who did it, that’s another. Claiming that you didn’t even know they did the work, now that’s another still. But making a whole career out of coasting on other peoples’ accomplishments, and pausing every few minutes to deliver a lecture on the value of hard work? That takes a Jonah Goldberg.