The question of whether or not there is someone dumber than Jonah Goldberg is not really a matter of debate. It's more a matter of certain fact, buffeted by a gospel of buffoonery so vast and deep that the Marianas Trench is envious.
First, Jonah, playing off of a Mark Steyn post that allows us to indict entire systems based on a single outcome because it could happen to you (which is why capitalism is a failure after my friend's combination pornography and Baby Bjorn emporium didn't work out), leads us to this story which has been making the wingnut rounds: a man pulled out his own teeth after not being able to find an NHS dentist in Britain. And he's a veteran, so it's basically like each of those teeth was aborted.
Hence I want to be very clear the following story says absolutely nothing of import about British healthcare and in no way detracts from the argument that we should emulate their system.
Unfortunately, Jonah leaves out this part:
A spokesman for NHS East Riding of Yorkshire said Mr Boynton's case gave an 'inaccurate scare-mongering picture of dental service provision in East Yorkshire based solely on the claims of one man'
The spokesman said: 'As well as 34 dental practices, we have seven dental access centres across East Riding of Yorkshire, including Beverley, where Mr Boynton could access a full range of NHS dentist services.
'So there is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to resort to pulling out their own teeth. NHS East Riding of Yorkshire has invested around £1 million in helping dentists target new patients. At many of our dental practices appointments are being offered to new patients within two weeks.
'Our local out-of-hours and Accident and Emergency Services would have both been able to give Mr Boynton details of how to access emergency/urgent dental services if he had approached them.'
No system of insurance can take care of someone who won't actually seek medical attention. The man's complaint is that he wasn't able to find a single NHS dentist anywhere, except for the seven that were close to him. This also fails to take into account that the American system, being almost entirely private, could easily result in the exact same outcome. (And if we're getting into how our countries take care of veterans, I'm not sure that we come out on the winning end of that skirmish, either.)
That, of course, leads into something better, because why not go full wingnut? Were you aware that Sarah Palin is the most put-upon figure in public life...ever?
I'm getting a lot of indignant leftwing email for my statement yesterday re Palin:
"It certainly is true that nobody in public life in recent memory has been as shabbily treated as she has."
The gist of the complaints is that some rightwingers said mean things about Hillary Clinton or Janet Reno or some such. And it's true, some mean and unfair things were said about those folks. But I think a lot of these lefties seem oblivious to the fact that The New York Times, the news networks (minus Fox), David Letterman et al aren't supposed to be scored as partisan outlets, but they are. And they've gone after Palin and her family in ways that I think are particularly egregious. Complaining about Richard Mellon Scaife's treatment of the Clintons is perfectly fair. But comparing it to the mainstream and "respectable" assaults on Palin is not persuasive.
What's funny is that he has nearly two decades of late-night comedians never attacking the Clintons to back him up. I did a Lexis search; Jay Leno did one joke in the mid-90s about the balanced budget amendment, then was disappeared for a week until he came back, looking ten years younger and making obscure references to how Bob Dole was a Sandinista. It was a strange time for us all.
Why Jonah Goldberg is so fascinating is because he is the ur-conservative: someone who advocates merit for everyone else, but achieved his own success through nepotism and ideological social promotion; someone who is incapable of debate yet is cocooned in a forum that simulates every element of debate but the reality that is supposed to govern it; someone who has written a falsely counterfactual history so odious and so damaging to our understanding of evil that only the modern American right could raise him up to the level of a public intellectual; someone who, were he anyone else's son and in any other field of employment, would barely be able to feed himself, let alone be a millionaire pundit.
I've always joked that if I ever fell on hard times, I'd undergo a sudden ideological transformation and be taken care of for life. You don't have to be good or smart or talented or even particularly bright to be a successful conservative, you just have to be born to the right people, have someone owe you a favor, or just fill a niche. It renders the entire ideology of conservatism a sham, as its most successful proponents are by far its worst adherents.