Jonah Goldberg's very bad bet

He doesn't have to pay up, but we're all losers anyway.

Published February 8, 2007 3:06PM (EST)

Today is Feb. 8, 2007, a fact we mention only because on Feb. 8, 2005, National Review (and now Los Angeles Times) columnist Jonah Goldberg had the following to say about Iraq in a back-and-forth pissing match with Juan Cole:

"I do think my judgment is superior to [Cole's] when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc."

Cole declined to make what he called "a wager on the backs of human beings."

So what does Goldberg have to say for himself now? He admits that he would have lost the bet if Cole had taken it, but he seems to resent the fact that folks are reminding everyone -- including media outlets who now carry his column -- that his underlying argument was so totally wrong. In a new post up at the National Review, Goldberg complains that the "vitriol and bullying of this crowd is something to behold."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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