Jonah Goldberg battles Piers Morgan over politicization of bin Laden

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Some conservatives are unhappy with Piers Morgan’s interview of Jonah Goldberglast night. But it was a terrific interview — one Goldberg should be proud of.

Venturing outside the friendly confines of Fox News to promote new book, “Tyranny of Cliches,” Goldberg clearly hasn’t gone soft. He deftly handled what could have been a very dangerous interview. Goldberg should be happy. Softballs don’t make for good TV, and this was good TV.

The debate centered around whether or not Barack Obama has wrongly politicized the killing of Osama bin Laden. “It was stupid of the White House to do this,” Goldberg said of Obama’s recent ad, “because instead of talking about how great Barack Obama was for killing Osama bin Laden, we’re arguing about whether it was appropriate for him to have this political ad.” (Personally, I think this is a metaphor for all of Obama’s missed opportunities. By playing petty politics, he has frequently missed opportunities to become a truly transcendent political figure. But that’s another topic.)

The debate also featured the kind of rhetoric and verbal jousting that’s more often found in a college philosophy seminar than on cable news. At one point Goldberg argued that Morgan was making a “category error” — a term Morgan was unfamiliar with (“it’s sort of like apples and oranges,” Goldberg explained.) Later, Morgan made an issue of Goldberg saying the killing of bin Laden cost a rather “inexpensive” $50 million. “Are we really going to do this sort of high school debating crap?” Goldberg shot back.

Morgan persisted and stretched the argument to imply Republicans think $50 million is cheap because they’re fiscally irresponsible. Goldberg, though, wouldn’t stand for it. “I think the debate tactic of standing on a soap box and waxing poetic about how much I think this operation cost is cheap,” he said.

This won’t go down in history as one of the great TV moments of our time, and Goldberg didn’t win every point. But in a world of vapid cable TV hits, this was very good TV. And Goldberg proved that one can have an intellectual and nuanced debate — and still win the argument.