They believe their own bullshit

Jeffrey Goldberg (at the Atlantic) talked to Jonah Goldberg (of National Review). They are not the same person. Indeed the fact that they are not the same person of part of Jeffrey G’s motivation for talking to Jonah G.

I wanted to interview Jonah because I find him provocative and sharp, but also because I have as a goal the disaggregation of all media Goldbergs. I am frequently confused for Jonah, and sometimes I’m blamed for the things he writes. He is blamed for the things I write, of course, and we sometimes get each other’s mail. This interview was a chance to convince podcast listeners that we are, indeed, two separate people.

Or one person doing two voices!

Just kidding.

Anyway. Jeffrey G starts by asking Jonah G to tell us about his life as a “homeless conservative” – i.e. one who sees Trump as Trump and not our lord and savior.

Jonah Goldberg: I’m not ideologically homeless. The problem is I’m politically homeless. What we’ve seen in the last couple of years is the Republican Party get either dragged along or leap ahead into essentially a cult of personality. A cult of personality is somewhat misleading because it’s only a handful of people who really think that Comrade Trump will deliver the greatest wheat harvest the Urals have ever seen. But for most of them, it’s more like—and I don’t mean to be glib about this. My brother was an addict. He died a few years ago. And I watched how my parents would try to rationalize his behavior. Every time my brother had a good day, it was the first day of the rest of his life.

Jeffrey: “This is the day he became president.”

Jonah: Yeah. This is the thing with Trump. It’s constantly, “This is the day he became president. This is the pivot. He’s off on the right foot. He can change.”

Jeffrey: So there are two camps. There’s a camp of actual true believers. And then there’s a larger camp to say, “No, it’s not as bad as you think.”

Jonah: I mean, so, it’s funny. A year and a half ago, at Fox and other places on the right, I remember being so unbelievably disheartened by how many pundits and commentators—not just at Fox, but talk radio, all over the place—lied. They would say, “Trump is fantastic. Trump is awesome. Trump is a genius. He’s a businessman.” All this stuff. And then the camera goes off, and the microphone goes off, and then they would say, “I can’t believe I have to defend this guy.”

They don’t “have to” of course. It may be that they “have to” if they want to keep their jobs, but that doesn’t count as genuine necessity. The genuineness of the necessity diminishes as the horror of the person being defended expands. Trump is off the charts horrific, so you do the math.

Jeffrey: That’s terrible.

Jonah: It’s horrible.

Jeffrey: By the way, that’s the swamp.

Jonah: It’s totally the swamp. And what I’ve found though, a year later, you now find people who aren’t lying. Now, you don’t find a lot of people saying, when the camera goes off, “I can’t believe I have to defend this guy.” They believe their own bullshit.

Which is also terrible and horrible and swampy…especially since his being president makes it so easy to observe for oneself exactly how disgusting he is.

Jonah: I’ve lost some friends for sure, and I’ve lost a lot of fans. On the right, Trump is still sort of controversial. Just talking about him is divisive. Some people are all-in and some people are against him. And if you get asked the question, and you take a strong stand against him, and you don’t speak in these silly euphemisms, like “Maybe he should tweet less,” you piss people off.

Jeffrey: His tweeting does cause a disproportionate amount of the destabilization that we are experiencing. Are you saying that telling him not to tweet is akin to putting Bacitracin on a tumor? Because it seems like that’s a stand-in for a whole set of impulsive behaviors that if they did not exist might bring us to a saner place.

Jonah: The tweeting is a symptom. People tweet. Barack Obama tweeted.

Jeffrey: No one would confuse their two Twitter feeds.

Jonah: No. And the problem with Trump’s Twitter feed is that it is like the Narnian wardrobe to his lizard brain. It just vomits out whatever his raging sphincterless id has got going at the given moment. It gets him into an enormous amount of trouble.

Oh, man – his raging sphincterless id. That’s good. I wish I’d thought of it.

Read on.

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