Ta-Nehisi Coates, Future Despot

It is fairly uncommon for a blogger to become a head of state (I think it has only happened three or four dozen times). But now my friend and colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates has apparently achieved real greatness.  Everywhere I look I find reminders that he is no more an ink-stained wretch but instead the new president of Libya: "U.S. Recognizes TNC as Libya's "Legitimate Governing Authority," read one headline. "TNC is Libya's Only Government," read another. TNC has become a real globe-trotting diplomat: "Libya's TNC thanks Lebanon for recognition."  And of course, inevitably, power has already gone to his head: "Libyan TNC challenged on killings and arbitrary arrests."

I decided to interview TNC on his transition from Atlantic blogger to Libyan strongman, but I was forced to submit my questions through the TNC Ministry of Propaganda and Procrastination. Here is what came back:

Q: As Libya's new leader, how much do you think it is appropriate for you to steal from the state treasury? And what will you use the money for?

A: ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!!  With that sum secured, I shall erect of replica of this statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.


Q:  How long wiill it take before you become a complete despot?

A: According to my commenters, that happened years ago. 

Q: Who is your leadership model?

A: Did I mention Nathan Bedford Forrest?

So there you have it: Libya now squirms under the thumb of an exceedingly tall African-American blogger who has adopted the leadership style of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I think this is a recipe for success.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

From This Author

Just In