The Goldberg Variations (On Lame): What Happens When Certain Right Wingers Leave the Amen Corner

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 10:24 PM EST

Having given up TV, I now appear to be obsessed with it. Check out Jon Stewart's dismemberment of Jonah Goldberg and his book "Liberal Fascism." It's sooo delicious, mostly because Stewart, a consistently gentlemanly interview, isn't trying to dismember him, he just comes to understand that Goldberg has nary a clue what the hell he's talking about. He actually believed he's drawn a straight line between Mussolini and Hillary Clinton. To ask him a simple question about his own book was to hear a grown man babble. My favorite was when Goldberg excoriated liberals for invoking fascism too often and Stewart said wonderingly, holding up the book, "so...you thought you'd put it in the title?" Goldberg was equally unconvincing justifying the smiley-face-with-Hitler-mustache cover. Handily, Goldberg proved Tim Noah's analysis that Goldberg is one of the few "winners" left standing from Monicagate. (I don't know if Goldberg has railed against liberal nepotism, but check Noah to see how his mom got him where he is.) This performance alone validates FP's 10 Commandments of Punditry.

Granted, condensing something you spent years thinking about into six minutes isn't easy. I've done book interviews that were train wrecks because the host was either an idiot or an ideologue for whom I was present as a mere prop, so I know how these things can throw you. You have no idea how hard it is to debate a moron who thinks he's Einstein. I once spent long minutes on one of these wannabee "Nu Afrikan" radio shows so incredulous at the insanity I was speechless, which the host, and his nutjob "kill whitey" audience interpreted as my bowing to their brilliance. I hung up on a racist, fascist O'Reilly wannabee in Colorado or someplace, he was such a mouth-breathing bully with no idea how stupid he was. I would imagine he and his audience say I lost that debate. But Stewart ain't stupid. He taped for 18 minutes, trying to get a usable six.

Best case: Goldberg needs media training. Worst: he should never stray from the echo chamber of right wing true believers. Or visit only those liberal hosts who aren't smart, who don't bother to read the book they're discussing and who don't care about anything but their egos and income.