Sausage-Neck Nailed Again

Friday, March 11, 2005

Sausage-Neck Nailed Again

Only a few weeks after being thoroughly humiliated by Juan Cole, Jonah Goldberg is once again shooting his mouth off about things that other people know a lot more about than he does. It's an occupational hazard of being a pundit; you're called upon to comment on many subjects, most of them well outside your expertise. When you do it in a snarky tone and rely disproportionately on ad hominem attacks, you expose yourself even more to the chance of being made to look stupid.

This time, Goldberg is taking on the mechanics of voter registration, a topic that a great many thoughtful people have spent a great deal of time debating. Goldberg's solution is to make it hard for people to register, so that we'll keep the ignorant and the unworthy from messing up our democracy.

Professor Rick Hasen, a mild-mannered soul if ever there was one--he moderates a listserv that is frequently host to passionate arguments and manages to keep it quite civil and tolerant--has an uncharacteristically harsh evaluation of Goldberg's rant: "I would hope that this kind of argument is completely unacceptable in today's society."

I think there's another problem with Goldberg's argument: in the current environment, the better-informed a voter is, the more likely he is to vote against the folks Goldberg supports. If people who think we found WMDs in Iraq had been barred from voting, Bush would have lost. Same result if we took out people who think some of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi. These are very simple, yes-or-no facts, and they're pretty central to evaluating the President's justification of a war we're currently fighting; if ignorance were a basis for denying people the vote, the GOP would be in big trouble.

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