Monday, July 05, 2010

THE LEVEL OF DEBATE THE INTERNET DESERVES. Jonah Goldberg declares victory!
That sort of language clearly rankles my friend Will Wilkinson. I discussed the merits and shortcomings of patriotism with him for a special Independence Day edition of Bloggingheads. I found it to be a largely un-worthwhile discussion. Knowing in advance that Will is utterly immune to any romantic or sentimental arguments (as he might characterize them) for love of country, we were forced to restrict our conversation to sociological and other strategic rationalizations for patriotism. It was kind of like debating love of country with a Vulcan. Except, ironically enough, at the end of the day, I think it's pretty clear that Will is the one letting his emotions get the better of him.
Being your best friend, I briefly scanned the Bloggingheads in question to see whether Goldberg actually made Wilkinson flip out.

My data is incomplete. I could only stand a few minutes. I've heard there are people who have watched entire episodes of Bloggingheads, but I find it hard to believe such supermen exist. What human being could withstand such a punishing assault on their eyes and ears without willfully puncturing them with whatever sharp object was at hand in defense of their own sanity?

I did see Wilkinson ask Goldberg if the War for Independence was justified, and a flummoxed Goldberg reply, "The ends justify the means." Wilkinson gets into the why-not-secession theme, and Goldberg talks about a "Whiggish danger in going over these grievances," perhaps meaning "Wiggish," meaning he was thinking of the powdered wigs the Founders wore in paintings before returning to his customary reverie of a ham sandwich. His closer, characteristically: "This is something I've not spent a lot of time on, but I think it's an interesting distinction and I've always wanted to sort of learn more about it."

Despite retinal bleeding, I skimmed the rest and could not find the Wilkinson meltdown to which Goldberg refers, though before everything went black I did hear Wilkinson theorize that "wars are almost always bad," and Goldberg tell Wilkinson that you can't blame patriotism for war any more than you can blame oil for it. But I may have just hallucinated that.

Perhaps a Corner "reader" will "write in" to request proof, spurring Goldberg to point to 49:01, where Wilkinson blinks rapidly, proving his discombobulation before the mighty reasoning skills of his opponent. Till then I will have to assume Goldberg means that Wilkinson generally seemed to care about what he was saying and whether his argument made any sense, whereas Goldberg was digesting an entire pork butt and couldn't rouse himself to anything like full attention. Now, back to the decompression chamber!

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