Would a Neocon Know Who John Podhoretz Is?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Marc Tracy, at Tablet, has a little fun at the expense of Alex "Too Dumb To Read" Pareene of Salon, who was under the impression I actually believed that John Podhoretz was the editor of Mother Jones magazine, and not Commentary. Tracy suggests that Salon can't have it both ways -- if I am in fact a neocon conspirator who started the Iraq War, wouldn't I by necessity have to know the name of the editor of the neocon mothership, Commentary? Tracy:

"(Goldberg) ultimately deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to knowing who the editor of one of the most prominent Jewish journals is. (Especially when said editor is his fellow right-wing neocon Podhoretz, with whom, I have heard, Goldberg routinely plots ways to establish "a radical rethinking of what it means to be pro-Israel" that involves condemning settlements.)

For those of you not grasping Tracy's subtle suggestion, let me explain: In this last bit, he's trying to suggest, citing actual evidence, that perhaps I am not a neocon.

And by the way, I'm aware that it is dangerous to over-explain jokes, especially since Goldblog readers are generally very savvy (I've banned Alex Pareene from reading this blog, on account of his dumbness, though I'm not yet sure what to do about Captain Underpants, who also didn't get the joke), and in fact, a number of Goldblog readers have written in to say that Goldblog should ignore those shmeggeges. Here is the view of Goldblog reader Arik Gabbai:

I, for one, found the Mother Jones-Podhoretz joke hilarious. It was exactly the kind of joke that succeeds precisely because the reader experiences a momentary dissonance, having had his expectations thwarted by the use of language of a type that typically refers to the signifier's opposite. This is called irony, and in the old days, a person who employed this technique to humous effect was said to have what was known as "wit."

This joke was also of the kind that suffers miserably from over-explanation, even retroactively. So it was with great sadness that I read your follow-up post dealing in part with the joke's fallout. "This moron Blythe," I thought, "has prompted Goldberg to go and ruin a perfectly good joke." And I bemoaned that fact that you couldn't leave well enough alone, even though I did take a slight satisfaction from the fact that Blythe would no doubt feel sheepish about being called out on live Internet for his deficiency in joke-getting.

But then you fired him. As a reader. For being under-qualified. This was clever. If only you hadn't ruined the whole enterprise by mistakenly referring to the Nation's editor as Bill Kristol, who, as you should have known, was not only a leading neoconservative until his death late last year, but gained notoriety for penning the virulently anti-Communist anthem "White Christmas."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2010/08/would-a-neocon-know-who-john-podhoretz-is/60849/