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Jonah Goldberg

I’ve figured it out. It’s been like trying to sculpt a delicate flower while wearing mittens; I’ve finally crafted a coherent and consistent explanation to the liberal mind. The wheel of history has been broken. The endless repetition of tired clichés, the Nietzchean eternal return of the same, the soul-draining arguments rehashed over and over again: All this will be swept into the dustbin of history, thanks to my one elegant insight. I can guarantee that liberals will abandon their outdated romantic understandings of human nature.

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Once they hear my short and simple explication of their own worldview, they will be persuaded to abandon the legacy of Herbert Croly and Ralph Nader the way a caveman drops his sticks and flints upon seeing a book of matches. If I may say so, what amazes me is that nobody ever thought of it before. Not only is it like having the Rosetta stone sitting in the middle of your living room, it’s like you’ve been using it for a coffee table without ever bothering to let your eyes focus on the text.

It explains everything. It explains all of the inconsistencies — in such a way that even feminists and Leftists will have to abandon their cognitive dissonance. Those who think opening a door for a lady is a bigoted and patriarchal condescension but who simultaneously feel we have no right to judge polygamous countries that hold as a matter of law that husbands can keep their wives handcuffed to the pipes under their kitchen sink indefinitely, will see how moronic they are. Those who decry fox hunting as a barbaric anachronism that shames Western Civilization, but who also think that we have no right to criticize half-naked savages who eat monkeys will wake up and smell the coffee.

Upon hearing my simple algorithm of wisdom, The New Republic will dedicate an entire issue to thanking Mussolini and Franco for saving more Jews than FDR or Churchill did. The Nation will come out for a flat tax. Paul Begala will start quoting Edmund Burke and James Carville will retreat to a monastery and whip himself with a bicycle chain for the rest if his days in penance. Sid Blumenthal will simply burst into flames and explode like the evil French archeologist who opens the Ark of the Covenant at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.

And here it…is…? [snork….fzzzzt….zzzt…whrrrrr!] What’s that sound? I’m getting a weird, déjà vu-ey, Outer Limits vibe (“We control the vertical….”). Oh…my…What is that? It seems to be humanoid. Brown hair on top with numerous strands of what appears to be…yes, yes…what appears to be cat hair. Cosmo! Stop barking!

I don’t know if this makes sense to you people out there — I don’t even know if this makes sense to me — but I get the vague impression that this person is, well, penurious, parsimonious even. I don’t how I know that….Oh wait. It’s Rich Lowry. I’m losing control, can’t talk…

*****WE INTERRUPT THIS EDITION OF THE GOLDBERG FILE FOR A MESSAGE FROM RICH LOWRY*****

Excuse me? Whoa…Geez. It’s weird in here.

I feel like Homer Simpson in the “Tron” episode — I’ve entered an entirely parallel, but entirely different plane of existence. I feel a compulsion to make Simpons’ references. I want to insult French diplomats and the whiny, sniveling, surrendering, piddly-ass country from which they come. I want a bonus. I want to file late. I smell…I smell…something. Could be dog. Could be bacon bits. Could be back issues of The Public Interest.

I wanted to take the opportunity to interrupt this G-File to mark this mini-milestone. It would be an exaggeration to say that when Jonah became editor of NRO we only had a web address and a dream. Chris Weinkopf and Russell Jenkins had already poured considerable sweat equity into the site. But what we had mostly was potential, and Jonah has helped us realize it in a way that has literally led the way in online opinion journalism.

Jonah, in one sense, had no business doing this. Originally I asked him to write short items a couple times a week for the site about the Monica controversy. It turned out that’s all the running room he needed — he turned his short items about Monica into long items about everything. His column quickly became the main driver of the site, and we decided that, since he had effectively taken over the site, we should let him officially take over the site — and thus was NRO as we know it born.

Jonah became editor and reoriented the site around the sensibility of the G-File — fast reacting, fun, combative, intelligent, curious, obsessed with obscure cinematic references (well, we dropped that feature), and pretty much everything else that characterizes NRO. We can’t say how grateful we are for what Jonah has done; it has been a huge boon not only to the site, but the National Review enterprise generally.

Now, for this “big change.” It’s not really a change. Our guiding ethic at NRO has always been “whatever works.” It has meant we’ve had a organic, constantly changing enterprise where rules, job descriptions, and the rest don’t mean that much. What we’re recognizing here with new titles is what has been the case for a while. Kathryn Lopez, who has invested NRO with her boundless energy and creativity, manages the unmanageable crush of daily editorial matter on NRO, while Jonah is a guiding spirit, kibitzer, idea man, etc. So we’re making the indispensable Kathryn editor, and Jonah editor-at-large. (There are only two other editors-at-large in the NR universe — WFB and John O’Sullivan.)

So, anyway, time for me to leave. Before I go, I should note that, along with everything else, it feels pretty brilliant in here. And I should also say, while I have the chance to put it on record in the G-File that…CATS RULES….SCI-FI SUCKS….PROTESTANTISM IS THE…wait…I’m just…hey…

*****RICH LOWRY HAS LEFT THE GOLDBERG FILE.*****

Cosmo kill!

Wow, sorry about that. I knew about this whole editor-at-large thing but I didn’t know Rich was going to bust into the Goldberg File to announce it. I guess I’d better explain. As Rich discussed, I signed on to NRO as a project about five years ago. That was during the go-go Internet boom, if you recall. Indeed, I even insisted on a chunk of the “profits” — something I know Ed Capano and the suits pound the desk and cry with laughter about whenever they think about it. Anyway, while I used to be day-to-day editor guy, doing a zillion different things all by myself (Larry Kudlow used to dictate his column to me over the phone. Seriously), I haven’t the one-man-band in a very long time and I haven’t even been the day-to-day editor guy for a couple years. I’ve been the guy who gets to say “Why did we do that?” or “Shouldn’t we be doing this faster?” In your office you might call this person “the a-hole.” But terms vary.

First and foremost, the secret to NRO’s success has always been its readers. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we are constantly astonished by how generous, knowledgeable, smart (and smart-assed) and funny our readers are (except for all readers named Todd, for some inexplicable reason). The fact that you guys appreciate NRO so much has made it all seem worthwhile.

But I’ve been blessed with a staff of people who have made me look good. Chris McEvoy is one of the most professional and talented people I’ve ever worked with or met. Aaron Bailey, like Russ Jenkins before him, has never said something can’t be done. George Vara’s got a great future ahead of him. And, of course, Rich has always been the Maximum Leader of NRO (though having to shake “Lowry’s Little Red Book” at him every time he got off a plane got old pretty fast). When I was jobless, penniless, and lost during the Lewinsky mess, Rich threw me a lifeline and gave me a wonderful opportunity (though he was kinda slow alleviating the penniless part. Originally, my only income was $25 per G-File). He may seem like a cipher, but I’m deeply indebted to him nonetheless.

And then there’s Kathryn. She’s been doing most of the day-to-day stuff for a very long time and she, more than any other single person, is responsible for keeping NRO chugging along. If she called in sick, we wouldn’t even know how to let the Asian child laborers out of their cages to fire up the pneumatic tubes that make NRO run. So I’m delighted that she’ll be the new editor while I will adopt the high-back leather chair title of “editor-at-large” (please, no “large editor” jokes, I’ve already thought of them all). The editor title never seemed to fit me right (what did I say about the large editor jokes?) because I don’t like taking credit for the work of others. And besides, was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, “To define me is to negate me.”?

There will be some changes in the frequency of The Goldberg File, and you’ll probably see me in The Corner a lot more, but we can discuss that later. I really should get back to the subject of today’s column. What was it about again? I forget. Rich made me lose my train of thought. Something about liberals right? Oh well, I’m sure it will come back to me.



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