De Pasquale’s Dozen with Jonah Goldberg
Lisa De Pasquale
5/14/2012 12:01:00 AM - Lisa De Pasquale
A few years ago I was at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Florida. As a friend and I settled in for the next panel on Islamofascism, I decided to make it a little more interesting. I said to my friend, “I’ll bet you $5 that Jonah Goldberg mentions The Simpsons during his remarks.”
“Ok, you’re on,” he said. We each put a five dollar bill on the table.
In the tail end of Goldberg’s remarks he said “a foreign policy by Bart Simpson” or something to that effect. I can’t remember exactly because my focus was on not making a scene in the ballroom. Victory was never so sweet.
Needless to say, I’m a fan of Jonah Goldberg’s writing and quips. He is a New York Times best-selling author and the editor-at-large at National Review Online. His new book, The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, discusses the left’s penchant for hiding behind meaningless clichés to avoid real debate. He writes, “The problem is that while our radar is great at spotting in-bound ideological statements, clichés sail right through. People will say ‘It is better that ten men go free than one innocent man go to jail’ and then stop talking, as if they’ve made an argument simply by saying that. They will take the slippery slope at face value. They’ll say ‘Diversity is strength,’ as if it means something, and ‘Violence never solved anything,’ as if that were not only plausible but so true that no further explication is required.”
I am tempted to use a litany of book review clichés to describe The Tyranny of Clichés -- Tour de force! Powerful! A page-turner! Timely! However, as I ask myself “What would Bart (or Burns) do?” it’s clear that the best reason to recommend you buy and read Goldberg’s latest book is that it will annoy the Left. Excellent…
Each week the De Pasquale's Dozen asks political figures and free market-minded writers and entertainers to take a break from politics and talk about their pop culture obsessions.
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
Well, obviously, I’m tempted to say Groundhog Day, in part because it’s one of my favorite movies, but also because it’d be like an Escher painting to have it play over and over again.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
“The Delta House has a long tradition of existence to its members and to the community at large.” I think it’s from “A Man For All Seasons.”
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was "cured." If you could give President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid the "Clockwork Orange treatment," what movie would you make them watch?
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
“Surprised”? Hmm. That rules out my Spock plate from the Franklin Mint.
5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
“Spartacus” on Starz. I like other shows more, but none make me feel so guilty.
6. What's Simpsons character are you most like and why?
Maybe, Sideshow Bob? A rightwing misanthrope funnyman. No, wait. Kodos. Because as a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
7. Many have said that Washington D.C. is like Hollywood for ugly people. How do you think DC is like Hollywood? How is it different?
In Hollywood vanity is skin deep. In DC it goes to the bone.
8. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
The Kinks. I went with a couple buddies from junior high. We sat probably 20 rows back from the stage. Though I don’t remember a lot of sitting.
9. What books are on your summer reading list?
Ten Years of the Claremont Review, American Nietzsche, Still The Best Hope, The Walking Dead graphic novels
10. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
When I was a little boy, my father told me that if I was ever pulled over by a cop in a south American country, I should be very apologetic and ask if I can pay the fine right here rather than go down to the station. I haven’t had a chance to take it yet, but it always struck me as good advice. He also taught me that the goal in writing is to make every sentence either good or important. If it’s good no one will care if it’s not important. If it’s important no one will care if it’s not good. It’s an impossible ideal, but all ideals are for the most part impossible, but it’s one I strive for as much as I can. As for mom, most of the advice boils down to “don’t take crap from anybody.” I try to take it as often as I can.
11. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
Well, I met my wife because she read and liked something I wrote in the Wall Street Journal. So that was pretty cool. Also, last summer, a steward at Penn Station in New York recognized me from Fox News and let me get on the Acela 20 minutes before everyone else.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
I don’t think there was ever a single moment. I wanted to write comic books and science fiction until I got to college, when I discovered that I was actually far more interested in politics than normal people. I got the bug back then, but I’ve never really let go of my old plan. I just keep getting distracted.