EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Dear Reader (Especially future contributors to my GoFundMe page),
I am currently in the passenger seat of our family fun mobile, passing mile marker 138 on I-70.
I will confess that the fun hasn’t actually kicked in yet. The daughter is not, uh, completely sold on the whole concept of RVing across America and, frankly, neither are the dogs. They’ve spent the first couple hours to Breezewood, Pa., jockeying for position and trying to get us to lower the windows. The daughter has been looking at a screen while perfecting her sighing powers (she can multitask!).
Even though I got up extra early to exercise the beasts before we got on the road, the doggos became so anxious that we felt we had to give them some mild tranquilizers because it had become clear that they had convinced themselves of some QAnon–type conspiracy theory: Apparently, we rented this massive family truckster to take them to a vet hundreds of miles away. It took a long time for the canine ludes to kick in. And even then, Zoë refused to get out of the front passenger seat or even lie down. She’d just stare at the open road until her eyes closed and her head dropped, like Vic Hitler the Narcoleptic Comic in Hill Street Blues or pretty much anyone tasked with reading 350 editorials on the threat to the free press. Meanwhile, poor Pippa keeps trying to hide in the foot space under the dashboard, only to occasionally pop up as if she forgot to tell you something really important, like, “Nobody Expects the Spaniel Inquisition!”
Anyway, leaving Breezewood, we missed the correct exit and headed in the wrong direction for about 8,000 miles (at least it felt that way). When this trip is over, there will be a major Truth Commission to determine who was to blame for this human error, me or my wife’s husband.
Oh, and for those of you who don’t know, Breezewood, Pa., (Hellmouth 46.B according to the Department of Transportation), is neither breezy nor woody. While it does have a long tradition of existence, its charms can be summarized by its unofficial slogan: “All of the Amenities of Pedro’s South of the Border, None of the Entertainment Value.”
Our plan is to keep driving until we get to someplace past Chicago and then “camp” in the parking lot of a Walmart or some similar four-star patch of asphalt.
Our ultimate goal, of course, is to collect all of the Infinity Stones, but that’s not important right now. Our ultimate destination on this trip, however, is the Pacific Northwest, first the San Juan Islands (where we got married) and then Oregon.
People often ask me, “Why are you eating off my plate? Do I know you?”
But that’s not relevant either. Others ask me why the Goldberg Family takes to the road so often. This is a question that I’ve asked myself many times, usually somewhere in South Dakota. The short answer is we kind of have it in our blood. We’ve been doing it for a long time now. We were cross-country vets even before we drove from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Washington, D.C., in an old caddy . . .
[Cue flashback-sequence sound effect] The year was 2002. The Fair Jessica was pregnant with what would become the eye-rolling–sighing-machine in the back of the RV. Cosmo the Wonderdog was young and frisky and full of canine pride, having actually chased a herd of caribou in the Canadian Rockies. And then we had our run-in with the law.
Anyway, as I’ve argued many times, I think it’s a particularly useful thing for people in my line of work to drive around this country. And I don’t mean in a reportorial sense, though that’s good too. I just mean that it’s useful to remind yourself how big and diverse this country is. And when I say “diverse,” I don’t simply mean in the rainbow-flag sense of different kinds of individuals — I mean in the full sense: There are diverse communities, diverse geographies, economies, traditions, climates, you name it. Whether you’re on the left or the right, it’s important to be reminded that it is literally impossible to run a country of this scope and breadth from Washington. Or at least it’s impossible without doing incredible damage to this country and its traditions.
I don’t want to get into a wonky or even partisan discussion here. Right now, both parties are full of people who think this country can be run by a relative handful of people — or even one person – sitting in Washington. They think they’re smarter than the market or the people closest to the problems on the ground. I’m sure you could drive across this country and still be confused about such things. But it’s got to be harder. And that’s a start.
Anyway, I’m gonna cut this thing short because I’ve gotta start driving again soon. If you follow me on Twitter, look for updates from the road. I don’t know how frequent they’ll be, but I’ll try to chime in from my patch of four-star asphalt.
Various & Sundry
Oh, speaking of asses and faults. Despite all of the stress of getting on the road and trying to figure out why the fridge doesn’t work already, coping with the fistful of dingo hair that I’ve already inhaled, and all of the other stuff that — so far — has us far short of whistling zippidy-doo-dah out of our nethers, I am still downright ecstatic to be getting out of Washington and away from political Twitter, if only for a day or two.
I feel like Morgan Freeman’s narration of my departure should only be interrupted by the thundering crescendo of “Solsbury Hill” playing in the background.
But suffice it to say that I am stunned that so many people can simultaneously argue that Trump is a man of great character and that it is outrageous for me to suggest otherwise even though it doesn’t actually matter if he’s not a man of great character because character doesn’t matter, and yet I am a man of low character because I said character matters at a time when we’re at war, and saying “character matters” undermines Donald Trump even though character doesn’t matter and even if it did, he’s got character out the ying yang.
Anyway, I don’t want to waste any of your time or my time rebutting this nonsense in detail — I just hated leaving town without making it clear how incredibly stupid I think all of it is. (Also: Here’s a tip to the uninitiated: If you email me or tweet me horrendously vile things about my wife, daughter, dogs, or deceased family members, I’m not going to consider your character reference for the president very persuasive. I’m also not going to engage you in a lengthy conversation.)
Also, since there’s no canine update this week (you got that at the top), I needed to put something here.
Here’s the other stuff.
ICYMI . . .
And now, the weird stuff.