January 18th, 2006


All politics today, I fear

Town Hall (which, in a terrifying miscarriage of truth, I have placed in the bookmarks folder of my browser titles "Culture"; "Kultur" would probably be more apt) is particularly entertaining today.

Torn as he is between his professional and familial obligation to toil as a right-wing gasbag and his own desires to sit around watching Star Trek reruns and rolling up 1st-level elven rogues, it's often hard to tell when Jonah Goldberg is joking. Take his most recent column, where he argues that "what Iran needs is a Saddam Hussein":

A coup by sophisticated and serious members of the military would be great news. Even better would be a popular uprising. And best of all would be a combination of the two. An Iran with an old-style military dictatorship charged with defending democratic institutions would be an enormous, epochal victory for the West and for the Middle East. That would go a long way toward guaranteeing success in Iraq and would neutralize the threat of the Iran's nuclear ambitions, even if they decided to pursue a bomb.

Now, surely, Jonah "We Invaded Iraq To Help Spread Democracy and Freedom" Goldberg isn't suggesting that the best possible thing for both Iraq and the west is for Iran to be taken over in a coup by military strongmen, can he? And am I wrong, or is he seriously forwarding the idea that the government best equipped to "defend democratic institutions" is "an old-style military dictatorship"? I mean, I know that the new right doesn't really give much of a shit about democracy (preferring its ugly but polite cousin, stability), but this is perhaps letting the mask slip a bit TOO much. At a time when the sole purple-finger-thin justification for the war in Iraq is spreading democracy throughout the middle easy, it would seem that the last thing you'd want to do is openly pine for a nice old-fashioned military dictatorhip (like that of our good friend Pervez Mussharaf!) in Iran. Besides, although Jonah doesn't mention it, the last time we had a military dictatorship in Iran was under the Shah, and, well, that didn't work out so well. Indeed, the modern structure of Iran as a Muslim fundamentalist theocracy is a direct reaction to how much everyone hated the Shah. Put that Sliders novelization down, Jonah, back to the history books with you.

Meanwhile, John McCaslin, sort of a younger and even more conservative version of Andy Rooney, waxes rhapsodic over Dick Cheney's spell of the gout, then drops this brain-bomb:

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard and commentator for Fox News, has a witty title for his soon-to-be-published book, "Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush."

A review by Publishers Weekly notes that the author "preaches to the Crawford choir in this analysis-cum-tribute to the Bush presidency," but praises his "surprising glimpses into the personality" of the president.

For instance, whereas Bush dislikes reading newspapers, he has a copious book-reading habit: "five to every one that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reads."

Now, I'm not calling Freddie Barnes (or, as Bulldog John McLaughlin calls him, "FreddieBAAAAAAARNES") a liar. I'm just saying, this claim is beyond surprising and well into the realms of unbelievable. I wouldn't even imagine that Bill Clinton, who, whatever his faults, seemed like a pretty avid reader, reads more books than Condi Rice (who, whatever HER faults, has multiple graduate degrees, has written four books, and was a professor at Stanford, and seems like she probably reads a great deal). So, if we accept this at face value, how to explain it?

1. Condoleezza Rice has only read one book since becoming Secretary of State, thus making Bush's having read five seem like not that much of an accomplishment.

2. George W. Bush defines "book" downward, so while Condi reads 5 fat, detailed, complex books on history, statecraft and politics, he reads 25 books like Go Dog Go or The Pet Goat.

3. Freddie Barnes and/or his source for this claim is completely full of shit.

Your call as to which is more likely.

Finally, Town Hall has fallen in love with Burt Prelusky, because their latest claim is that conservatives, despite being a numerical majority in the United States and controlling all three branches of government as well as the worlds of business, entertainment, and media, are a tiny, voiceless minority who are constantly shouted down and made to live in fear. So Prelusky lets them indulge this preoccupation, claiming as he does to be the lone conservative voice in wicked liberal Hollywood. His latest column features him bragging about having beat some dame for a movie critic's job back in college by writing a review of a film he hadn't actually seen; he goes on to give Munich and Brokeback Mountain the same treatment. Over the course of the article, aside from the predictable claims that he won't see Spielberg's picture because it appeases those murderous Ay-Rabs and he won't see Lee's picture because no one can force him to look at homos kissing, he leaves the audience wondering (a) how an alleged humor columnist can have so little sense of humor and (b) if there are any movies he actually DOES like, since he decries pretty much ever film genre in existence.

A beautiful day in the Hall, folks.