On September 21, ThinkProgress noted a 2004 blog post by National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg, in which the conservative writer approvingly posted an e-mail from a then-active duty reader that savagely bashed generals as “a gigantic pain in the ass” who are “dishonest.”
In the post, ThinkProgress contrasted Goldberg’s vicarious attack on the credibility of generals with his current chastising of Democrats over their reaction to MoveOn.org’s Gen. David Petraeus ad in the New York Times. ThinkProgress suggested that Goldberg had separate standards for conservatives and progressives when it comes to criticism of military generals.
After receiving what he called some “e-pestering,” Goldberg responded today. In a post titled “UnThinking Progress,” he wrote:
Yawn. Well a few points: First, posting an e-mail isn’t an endorsement in the blogosphere. Second, there is a remarkable difference between criticizing a commander in the field during a war as vaguely treasonous or un-American, and questioning the credentials of a civilian running to be president of the United States.
Jonah, here’s a crucial difference: You pro-actively aided an attack on military generals, but now, you’re criticizing some Democrats for merely staying silent about a newspaper ad.
Goldberg’s response is either a misreading of his own 2004 post or a willfully misleading representation of our argument. The e-mail posted by Goldberg was an explicit sweeping attack on all generals, not just Gen. Wesley Clark, who was running for President at the time.
In fact, Goldberg’s post was entitled “A Military View On Clark, Generals Etc,” clearly showing that generals beyond Clark were criticized:
Nothing that Clark has said or done has surprised me in the least. Why? Because he acts just like the vast majority of general officers that it has been my displeasure to deal with during my 16 years in the U.S. military. Generals are, for the most part, a gigantic pain in the ass and we usually accomplish our military objectives despite their chaos-inducing presence. There are a few good generals here and there but most of them are an embarrassment.
Our criticism of Goldberg’s double standard still stands. Instead of attacking us, maybe Goldberg should clarify whether he believed generals were “a gigantic pain in the ass.”