Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The kids are alright

Daniel Larison is a thoughtful, paleocon-ish graduate student at the University of Chicago. I suspect I will be riffing off his work more often to the extent that I update this meager blog.

In any case, he seems to agree with Eric Alterman that Jonah Goldberg is all shtick and no real thought. This is an example of an interesting phenomenon we've seen with interesting regularity recently: a meeting of the minds between the paleoconservatives and the Left.

Most often, of course, this is the fruit of shared opposition to the War and the supposed vulgarity of the Bush Administration. But today's topic nicely illustrates the peculiarities of each position: the professional Leftist Alterman can't see the humanity of those associated with the Right because of the bitterness and life-choking stranglehold of ideology inherent in today's Leftist politics. Whereas Larison imputes Goldberg's thoughts as necessarily vapid, swimming in the mainstream of American culture as they are.

This last is a paleocon trope that I wish more of them could see for themselves, since the paleocons often have very useful cultural commentary, but no accountability for any of it. Being a paleo means never having to say you're sorry. If they had been in charge, the problem (whatever problem it is) would have never happened in the first place. This is good as far as it goes, but it means that we have to retreat into our own personal little Barbie and Ken dollhouse where we have total fiat over our environment.

The whole shtick business that Alterman and Larison criticize Jonah for is especially unfortunate, #1 because it's an obvious genetic fallacy, and #2, because Jonah uses it a lot less than he used to. Not to say that he can't be wrong about this or that, but it's a little unfair to say that Jonah is an empty head while offering little if any substance yourself.


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