There are many shades of rightwing punditry in our country. Among the shadiest is Jonah Goldberg. With arrogance seemingly matched only by his ignorance, Goldberg was just being Goldberg when he offered this wager two years ago:
Let’s make a bet. I predict that Iraq won’t have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I’ll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now).
The two-year period comes due this Thursday. Even Goldberg now realizes his prediction was totally wrong — with poll after poll showing most Americans do not “agree that the war was worth it.” (Not to mention what Iraqis think of the war or Goldberg’s boast that “Iraq won’t have a civil war.”)
So shouldn’t Goldberg — or somebody — pay off the $1,000?
The bet was offered near the end of an overheated blogo-debate between Goldberg (at National Review Online) and Dr. Juan Cole, the Middle East scholar from University of Michigan. In proposing the wager to Cole, Goldberg goaded: “Money where your mouth is, doc. One caveat: Because I don’t think it’s right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I’ll donate the money to the USO.”
Cole reacted to the proposed bet with disgust — calling it symbolic of “the neo-imperial American Right. They are making their own fortunes with a wager on the fates of others, whom they are treating like ants.” Wrote Cole: “Here we have a prominent American media star … betting on Iraqis as though they are greyhounds in a race.”
* * *
Since Goldberg felt compelled to tell us — as he gallantly offered the $1,000 bet — that it was money he “can hardly spare right now,” you may wonder about his ability to pay. A look at his bio shows that Goldberg has had a high-flying career in mainstream media — from CNN contributor to PBS producer to USA Today Board of Contributors. (Full disclosure: In 2000, he and I wrote relatively-friendly point/counterpoint columns for Brill’s Content.) One would think he could easily afford $1,000, especially for a charity like the USO.
But who knows — maybe Goldberg has racked up huge gambling debts from ignorant wagers like the one tendered to Cole.
So I have a solution. Let the Tribune media conglomerate pay the $1,000. Not only does Tribune syndicate Goldberg’s column, it was Tribune’s Los Angeles Times that added the analytically-impaired Goldberg to its columnist roster in November 2005 — at the same time it fired renowned columnist Robert Scheer, whose Iraq analysis had been breathtakingly accurate.
There’s a reason I keep harping on the issue of who was right and who was wrong. Until people like Jonah Goldberg are utterly discredited in the mainstream eye, they’ll just continue to cheerlead the clusterfuck. And the media will bend over backwards to provide them with an outlet to do so.