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Jonah Goldberg

It’s 11:30 at night. I’ve got to fly out to Detroit tomorrow to make my way to the Hillsdale Academy so I can deliver my first commencement address. I’m not too worried about that. I think I’ve got it all sewn up. After all, what high-school kid doesn’t love one-man interpretive Mummenschanz with meat puppets?

Still, I’m exhausted. Among the things I had to do Thursday was debate Lanny Davis about Hillary Clinton. The whole thing had a weird, 1998 vibe to it. I half expected Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer” to play in the background while Bill Clinton blew up aspirin factories.

Anyway, I’m too burnt out to write a column. But I for one have no desire to be on the receiving end of Kathryn Lopez’s Irish-Spanish rage. “El shamrock de la muerte” (as they call her in the intern pens) can turn from Irish green to El Sid red faster than Hillary Clinton’s mood ring during a Ken Starr deposition.

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So, I thought I might resort to — you guessed it — mime!

This is me in a box.

This me walking against the wind.

This is me trying to eat the jalapenos from the Sizzler salad bar but I keep getting my face jammed against the sneeze guard.

Oh wait — you can’t see any of this.

How anyone can say the blogosphere is so great when you can’t even mime on it is a mystery to me.

Anyway, since that’s out, why don’t I check out the stack of questions from my last FAQ request. Let’s see, here’s the first one.

Q: What the hardest thing about rollerblading?
A: That’s easy: Telling your parents you’re gay.

Okay, I made that one up. But that does give me an idea. Instead of reading from the FAQ pile, let’s pick some from IFAQ — infrequently asked questions — pile.

Q:How much hope is there that a male Jewish conservative Star Trek fan will find a female Jewish conservative Star Trek fan?
A: Not much. The female Jewish Trek fans go very quickly at the conventions.

Cue Dream Sequence:

Auctioneer: “And here we have Sharon Waxman. As you can see she’s quite attractive. She’s dedicated to national missile defense and a strong believer in strict construction of the constitution….” Trekkie One: “10,000 Quatloos for the girl.” Trekker One: “I will pay 15,000 for the female — if she comes with a collar of obedience….”

End Dream Sequence

Sorry. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from indulging in a little Gamesters of Triskelion humor.

Q:Have you noticed that your columns are getting more serious and are less irreverent lately? I’ve read you since 1998 and you’re getting more stern. Mind you, you’re getting sharper, but less funny. I busted up when I read your “Hail ants”/John McCain analogy, but now that seems like an unusual moment, rather than the norm.
A: It’s true. One, I’m getting older. Two, I really didn’t think anyone was reading a lot of those early columns and wasn’t sure I would end up doing this as a career. Three, eventually pull-my-finger-jokes lose their edge. Four, I hope this column makes up for some lost ground.

Q:[In your last FAQ column] A reader asked which liberals to take seriously, and you listed some whose work you read on a regular basis. My question is: I have limited time to surf, I always catch your column, Krauthammer, Walter Williams, and Larry Kudlow for economics, but that’s about it. Who would you recommend as must-read conservative columnists, whose body of work should not be missed?
A: Well, that’s tough. In part because I don’t want to offend people I know by saying you don’t have to read every syllable they write. Also, I can’t start playing favorites among NR-niks, so let’s just take as a given that you burst into an incandescent pillar of eternally burning flesh if you miss a single piece by anybody at National Review Online or National Review. That said, I do think Krauthammer is excellent. Mark Steyn is one of the most-talented columnists around and I always learn something from him. I have to say, that as much as I disagree with him on many issues, in Washington you really do have to read Bob Novak’s column because it’s reported, and that’s very rare. The end of Paul Gigot’s column was a real loss. And speaking of real losses, I always read Michael Kelly. And then there are columnists I always read if they’re writing about something that interests me. George Will is always very good on, say, campaign-finance reform, but his baseball stuff leaves me cold. But I have to be honest, I’ve become a lazy op-ed reader. I’m so busy these days and I get e-mails from readers or friends about must-reads long before I have a chance to go looking for them.

Q:Do you think Superman was/is a conservative or a liberal? If, in your opinion, he was/is a conservative, then how do you explain why he wore/wears his underwear on the outside?
A: Wait is/has it always been unconservative to wear your underwear on the outside?

Actually, one of these days Robert A. George of the New York Post and I are going to go head-to-head on Marvel vs. DC and my views on Superman’s conservatism — or lack thereof — will be made plain then.

Q:Are you ready for MUCH larger breasts?
A: Yes! I mean NO! I mean…wait. Oh, this is spam.

Q:Why do I never see anyone entering or leaving the NR office door on Capitol Hill? I often walk by it on the way to Trover at lunchtime, but never see you, or anyone else!
A: I’ll give you a hint: The second-most common thing overheard at NR’s D.C. office (besides “Kate! Ramesh is teasing me!”) is: “Is that creepy guy in the trench coat outside?”

Q:With all the money he makes, why can’t Charlie Rose get a decent haircut? He always looks like he just woke up.
A:He spends all his money on a coach who teaches him new ways to ask questions with personal pronouns in them.

Q:My favorite question I ask of conservatives is: “What fact or facts would it take to move you substantially to the left?” If it could be proven to your satisfaction that conservative policies were the cause of millions of deaths, would that do it?
A: First, remind me to carve out my spleen with my plastic spork if I ever sit next to you on an airplane. Okay, now: This is an interesting question and I’m really scared I might step on an ideological landmine trying to answer it, given how tired I am. So, let’s see. I guess I’d say that any policy — liberal or conservative — which resulted in the deaths of — presumably innocent — people wouldn’t get my support. Indeed, framed in that form it’s a pretty dumb question when you think about it. There’s almost nothing about conservatism which could be “proven wrong” that I can think of that would make me switch sides. Conservatism, rightly understood, is not a checklist of ideas, it is a checklist of sentiments. The proof I would require to move leftward would be evidence that socialism of one flavor or another worked. If you could prove that welfare in one form or another didn’t erode or undermine all sorts of important values and virtues, for example, I’d be eager to see the evidence. If nationalizing industry actually made people richer and freer in the long run, I’d reevaluate a great deal. But for that to be proven true, we’d have to learn something new and unimagined about human nature. I’m not holding my breath. Note: I reserve the right to revise and extend these remarks.

Q:How do you plan on staying “hip” and/or “with-it” as you approach your 40s?
A: I don’t.

Good night. Wish me luck with the kids. I just know they’ll like the mutton-mittens.



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