Joan Walsh vs. Chait & Me

by Jonah Goldberg

Jon Chait and I disagree on many things. In print we’ve often been pretty acerbic to each other. But personally, I’ve always gotten along with the guy. A month or so ago we went out to lunch to discuss his big new article, now out in New York Magazine. I haven’t read it yet, I’m planning too though. Apparently it’s not winning him friends to his left. Joan Walsh appears to be outraged at the idea that liberals should have some serious evidentiary standard before they hurl charges of racism at conservatives. From Chait’s rebuttal:

Salon’s Joan Walsh does identify as her objection my criticism of liberals, but then spits out a wild array of contradictory responses. Lawyers call the technique used here by Walsh “arguing in the alternative” (i.e., It’s my vase. It was broken when you gave it to me. It was in perfect shape when I gave it back. I’ve never seen that vase before in my life.) Walsh concedes, “I’m sure there are instances Chait can find where MSNBC hosts and guests (including me) went too far with racial rhetoric,” as if this were a hypothetical rather than a phenomenon I showed in considerable detail. Also, she says, it’s fine for liberals to assume racism lurks behind everything Republicans do because “Race has been behind GOP opposition to white politicians, not just black ones, who favor civil rights” — which is to say, racism explains the motives of basically all partisan Republican behavior. Also, if liberals stopped unfairly impugning Republicans, it wouldn’t matter. (“What would change? Would the Republican Party drop its opposition to anything President Obama supports?”) Also, liberals just shouldn’t care in general about being fair to conservatives. (“If that hurts Jonah Goldberg’s feelings – yes, Chait would have us feel sad for Jonah Goldberg, not just Bill Kristol – sorry, but I’m not losing sleep over it.”).

Take that Kristol! Joan Walsh can somehow imagine being fair to you when hurling charges of unsubstantiated racism — even if she’s unwilling – but fairness to Goldberg as well? That’s a bridge too far.