The Corner

Al & Me

The “Director of Research” at the Center for American Progress personally sent me this challenge. Here’s the kicker:

ThinkProgress is ready to devote our full efforts to uncovering the truth about this matter. All we ask is that, before we begin, Mr. Goldberg provide us with a comprehensive list of everything he ever did during the summer from age 6 through the age of 17. As your column demonstrated, we can’t take you at your word, so please provide documentary or testimonial evidence to substantiate each activity.

Me: Obviously these guys think they’re being super clever. Though I don’t think they’ve chipped much rock off the stereotype of earnest, humorless, liberals.

But, since this nonsense so perfectly mirrors so much email I’ve gotten from liberals whining about my Gore column, I might as well make a point or two. First, while I don’t know if they actually think this is a serious rebuttal of some kind, lots of readers do. So let me spell it out: I’m not the former vice-president of the United States. Nor am I the new annointed savior of liberalism or, if you believe some Gore disciples, planetship earth. Comparing me to Gore is a silly category error. Seriously, lots of angry liberals have written me to whine that Al Gore is a better and more important man than me, as if this is a refutation of anything I wrote. My point was straightforward, there is no new Al Gore. He’s the same man he’s always been with the same faults and the same strengths. But this runs against the increasingly hysterical storyline that Gore has been reborn as a prophet for our age and we must all pay heed. Please.

On to point two. I didn’t say I spent my fifteenth summer — or any summer — roasting marshmallows as I debated the merits of existential literature. I didn’t talk about me at all. And what I remember or don’t about my youth has nothing to do with anything. Gore is another matter altogether. Time after time after time, liberals of the Center for American Progress variety insist that the “smear” of Gore as a serial exaggerator was a nasty distortion, indeed a sign of the media’s burgeoning “rightwing” media bias. Well, I offered what still looks to me to be a pretty good example of just such an episode. How is that trivial or silly?

Which brings us to point number three. These folks never want to engage whether Gore was in fact telling the truth or exaggerating. Do they think Gore ever really spent a whole summer as a teenager speaking fluent French about Sartre et al only to come home and get C’s in French? If it’s not true, isn’t it really weird that he would say it? And, truth be told, if it is true, don’t you think it’s really weird that this is what a fifteen year-old kid wanted to do with his summer? Either way, they surely wouldn’t just dismiss such bragging by Bush or Cheney. I’m not trying to make this the biggest deal in the world, but these sorts of reactions suggest to me that I’ve really hit a nerve, which is why they want to make it about me.

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