If you’ll forgive the self-indulgence, let me start by sharing a few things about my professional life since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, in no particular order. Every day, on social media, I am attacked, dismissed, or otherwise declared an illegitimate analyst or fake conservative because of my criticisms of President Trump, even if I include praise or beneficial context. During the election season, I lost large sums of money — large to me, anyway — because I had to turn down speeches in which I was expected to be a de facto surrogate for the Republican point of view. My appearances on Fox News have dropped precipitously...One might wonder what this workshy legacy pledge, whose columns betray an ever-decreasing amount of effort, could possibly have to bitch about. Rick Perlstein, it turns out; Goldberg claims he has been slandered by him at the New York Times Magazine, thus:
National Review devoted an issue to writing Trump out of the conservative movement; an editor there, Jonah Goldberg, even became a leader of the “Never Trump” crusade. But Trump won — and conservative intellectuals quickly embraced a man who exploited the same brutish energies that Buckley had supposedly banished, with Goldberg explaining simply that Never Trump “was about the G.O.P. primary and the general election, not the presidency.”The quote, BTW, is accurate. Goldberg retorts:
For starters, Perlstein’s insinuation — that my declaration that “Never Trump” is over represents some kind of “embrace” of Trump — isn’t just wrong, it is breathtakingly dishonest. The very article he’s quoting from has the sub-headline: “The Never Trump movement is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop criticizing Trump when he deserves it.”Which is like saying, "I lost, but that doesn't mean I'll stop complaining about it." Goldberg actually lists several columns where he's been "criticizing Trump." Let's take one at random -- "The False Prophecy of the Presidential Pivot” -- and look at the lede:
It was just last week that Donald Trump had the finest moment of his short presidency — his address to a joint session of Congress. Even many of his harshest critics praised his speech or reluctantly conceded that it was “presidential.”Really lets him have it, huh? Actually Goldberg does get to criticizing eventually, but it's mainly criticism of Trump's intemperate Tweeting -- that is, his failure to "play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda" when he's handling his device. And he can't even do that without qualifying it -- for example, talking about Trump accusing Obama of tapping his phones, Goldberg admits it sounds bad but has to stick in that "there is an enormous amount we do not know" and "I think more investigations are in order (including of the leaks plaguing the administration)." And here's his finish:
The pivot stuff was always false prophecy. Being president has a funny way of making people more presidential. And by day, Trump’s White House staff can contain his worst instincts. But all bets are off when he’s alone at Mar-a-Lago and the moon calls forth the beast.In other words: Trump's got a good staff, so things are going okay, but hoo-boy, those crazy Tweets, am I right? He sounds like a 70s Democrat talking about Billy Beer.
Though Trump directly insulted Goldberg and won the nomination by basically telling the establishment Goldberg represents to fuck off, the fact is Goldberg's always been willing to praise Trump. Why shouldn't he? Trump's viciousness is right in tune with Goldberg's brand of conservatism -- it's just less dainty. Even during the campaign for the Republican campaign, Goldberg's NeverTrumpiness was already beginning to take on water. Here's me last May describing one such column:
Take Jonah Goldberg, dean of the #NeverTrump crew at National Review. Last week, Goldberg taxonomized and reviled several Trump-allied factions: "alt-right" loons, converts "who don’t in fact believe in anything at all beyond their own self-interest," "Closet #NeverTrumpers" without the courage of their convictions, and "Fake Moderates" who, Goldberg claimed, had "urged the GOP to be more inclusive and nice" before endorsing Trump.Or you can read him from August defending Trump's transparently bogus outreach to blacks ("Just because one has cynical motives doesn’t mean one’s actions are objectively bad. Lots of people cynically give to charity to make themselves look good to the public, that doesn’t mean charities should refuse money from anyone not of pure heart..."). Or you can --
But conservatives "who simply think supporting Trump is making the best of a bad situation" — well, that was different. "I understand that position and I have sympathy for it," said Goldberg. It would also be okay if Ted Cruz and this year’s other unsuccessful GOP contenders gave Trump "some grudging, pro-forma support… albeit reluctantly and with grave reservations," said Goldberg. Helping to destroy the country is only bad, in other words, if you seem too cheerful about it; a grim visage redeems you. Sort of like Puritanism!
Ah, what's the point. I could continue to pick apart his bullshit buffalo stance, but who's left to convince -- no one hears about some Trump outrage and says, "I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg to weigh in on this!" That's because the movement Trump took over is still his home and, like Charley Partanna and the Prizzis, he's got nowhere else to go. Even when he's being pissy, he still inside the tent pissing out; just because he can't quite find the flap and catches splashback every time doesn't mean he was ever even thinking about going outside to piss in.