Peanut Parents

Adults never appear in the Peanuts cartoons; one only hears their voices uttering nonsensical noises: waw waw waw waw. Much the same is the case for the adults in any of Jonah Goldberg’s columns. But today this is literally true:

>There are two obvious ways to save the bankrupt liberal talk-radio network Air America: Get Al Franken some new, funny material and hire a Lou Dobbs. I say “a” Lou Dobbs because the CNN host himself is probably too expensive, but his limousine populism is pretty easy to rip off: “Blah, blah, blah. Corporations are out to get you, Washington has sold you out, the fat cats have declared war on the little guy,” and so on.

I’ve asked this before: need we even bother?

7 thoughts on “Peanut Parents”

  1. I took a quick look at the article and it doesn’t seem as bad as your excerpt makes it out to be. The “blah blah blah” bit is a stand in for generic liberal anti-Bush rhetoric. Perhaps a bit Peanuts-ish, yes, but you’ve classified it as a Straw Man. From what I saw of the rest of the article, he doesn’t go on to attack this “straw man,” but instead discusses the fact that Dobbs’ other main issue is anti-immigration, and discusses how that contrast jibes with the liberals who soak up his general anti-Bush attitude.

    So, O Keeper of the Fallacies, is a straw man still a straw man if he’s left standing in his corn field untouched?

  2. Dear Jeremy,

    Glad you read the rest of the article. And especially glad you make this comment. My comments extend only so far as I claim them to extend. Op-eds frequently make several arguments and often I only pick out one of them. In this case I meant only to pick out the opening claim that Dobbs’ argument is just incomprehensible noise.

    The rest of the article goes on to confuse the issue of illegal immigration in quite a serious way. He seems to think that the liberal position is an open, unregulated border. I don’t think that’s anyone’s position. One prominent liberal position is that we have a just immigration policy–towards those on their way and especially those already here. Hearing only the adults blah-blah-blahing, Goldberg says nothing about that.

  3. i don’t know how we might categorize these, perhaps under “plain bad arguments,” but i seems that mr. goldberg has engaged a couple of blatant contradictions in his “article.” the first one is in the third paragraph:

    “This weird logjam, as the word implies, has a lot of logs to it. The first log is corporations, which like illegal immigrants. Corporations generally support Republicans and centrist Democrats, and that makes the pols wary of tackling the issue head-on.”

    didn’t he open the piece with an accusation against dobbs of this sort of “big bad corporations” fearmongering? yet now he engages in the same tactic to prop up his weak “logjam” analogy.

    the next one involves goldberg’s befuddling stance on immigration, albeit with the same insistence on the aptness of the flailing “logjam” analogy:

    “There are other random logs. Libertarians believe in free trade of workers and wheat alike. Many neo-conservatives of Jewish or Irish Catholic descent fear that the heroic narrative of America as a nation of immigrants will be desecrated if the U.S. performs one of the minimal requirements of a modern nation-state: control its own borders.”

    this seems consistent with goldberg’s previous claims about immigration, but as he closes, he drops this nugget in:

    “That’s one reason I reluctantly came out in favor of a fence on the border. Sure, the symbolism to the world is bad. But it would send Americans the message that elites are serious about an issue millions of Americans care about, and justifiably so.”

    the second sentence is a gem,no? wait, jonah, i htought you said we shouldn’t be ashamed of carrying the “minimal requirement of a modern nation state.” yet, here you acquiesce to the notion that the fence looks bad to the world. if the fence fulfills your “minimal requirement” (which seems only to beg the question) then why should we worry about the bad “symbolism?” moreover why should we accept that it is “bad?” we’re just fulfilling our “minimal requirement” as a “modern nation state,” which you’ve already stated is not putting America in danger of being desecrated. it seems that mr. goldberg is in such a rush to get his vitriol on the record that he forgoes revision.

  4. Mr.Mayo,

    I didn’t notice the self-congratulation in this sentence until your comment:

    > That’s one reason I reluctantly came out in favor of a fence on the border. Sure, the symbolism to the world is bad. But it would send Americans the message that elites are serious about an issue millions of Americans care about, and justifiably so .

    Two things. First, Goldberg comes out in favor of an issue “to send a message” that “elites” (that’s him) care about an issue. That’s self-importance on a grand scale. Second, if Goldberg hadn’t written that arrogant sentence, he might have noticed that the issue is the “justifiably so” of the rest of us non-elites.

    We–the rest of us–care about immigration because many of us–our friends, our students and classmates, parents, many of ourselves for petessake–are actual immigrants and Americans. Our concern–and the concern of any self-respecting American is with the justice of our current system. So, I affirm we ought to discuss that, in order to send the message that college professors care about an issue many Americans care about as well.

  5. even funnier is that, given, as you’ve noted, his self-aggrandizing adoption of populism in this paragraph, he quickly switches in the paragraph following to decry those who play to the populace (as he has just done) as phonies of some sort. this whole piece seems an overwrought and poorly executed attempt for goldberg to once again stump for a 2500 mile fence to protect 5000 mile border.

  6. That last sentence your wrote (Phil) was kind of poetic.

    Also, the sentence, “it would send Americans the message that elites are serious about an issue millions of Americans care about, and justifiably so” is rather ambiguous. The fence perhaps indicates that that the “elites” are serious about building a fence, but not necessarily that they are serious about the immigration issue. In fact, the fencing of our borders seems rather to not take into consideration the seriousness of millions of Mexican-Americans (and their non-Mexican friends and neighbors) who have marched in the streets to protest the now literal manifestation of “Fortress America.”

    I think its turning into a battle of seriousness that only the truly serious can win, and I’m dead serious when I say how utterly serious I am about building a seriously long and probably indefensible fence.

  7. jem,
    “indefensible fence” that’s seriously funny.
    also, your comment made me realize my last sentence–the one you cited as “poetic–basically says golberg’s column is an overwrought and poorly executed attempt at a column about an overwrought and poorly executed attempt to protect the border by an overwrought and poorly executed presidential administration.

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