Two years ago today, Jonah Goldberg threw down the following challenge to Juan Cole:
Since he doesn’t want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let’s make a bet. I predict that Iraq won’t have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I’ll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there’s another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I’m all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.
Since Goldberg enjoys throwing a little smear-job in with his punditry, he also offered this:
One caveat: Because I don’t think it’s right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I’ll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.
Got it. So we have a prediction, along with the insinuation that Professor Cole is a terrorist whereas Goldberg is a patriot. Obviously, Goldberg’s prediction was incredibly wrong. The prediction, of course, came in the context of a larger argument about credibility and Goldberg’s wildly off-base prediction tends to confirm precisely Cole’s position in this argument — Goldberg, while certainly a clever rhetoritician, basically has no idea what he’s talking about. Meanwhile, somewhat hilariously, Goldberg thinks that pointing out that Cole turned his wager down should somehow spare him from mockery. The point, however, is still about the very, very poor prediction, not about Cole’s skills as a gambler.