Liberal Bloggers Paying Iraq Bet Offered by Conservative Pundit

By: Dave Astor

Progressive bloggers pledged about $800 as of this morning toward the $1,000 that Jonah Goldberg said — on Feb. 8, 2005 — he’d give the USO if the Iraq War was still going badly in 2007.

Goldberg, a conservative Tribune Media Services columnist and National Review Online editor at large, had suggested the wager during a war of words he was having two years ago with “Informed Comment” blogger Juan Cole. The bet was turned down by Cole, who said at the time that Goldberg was “proposing a wager on the backs of Iraqis” and “betting on them as though they are greyhounds in a race.”

Paying the $1,000 for Goldberg was the idea of “Nitpicker” blogger Terry Welch. “I sent out an e-mail to other bloggers, and they quickly joined in,” he told E&P this morning.

Welch, an Army public affairs staff sergeant in Afghanistan in 2005, himself has already sent $100 to the USO on Goldberg’s behalf.

Is there a catch to the donations? Yes and no.

Welch said he’d like Goldberg to “back away” from a statement he made in his Feb. 8, 2005 piece. Goldberg had written: “I do think my judgment is superior to his [Juan Cole’s] when it comes to the big picture.”

In a blog entry today, Welch said to Goldberg: “(A)ll I ask that you do in return for the fact that we lefties are covering your bet is admit clearly and publicly that Juan Cole’s judgment is superior to yours when it comes to the big picture.”

But Welch also emphasized in the post and to E&P that the money from progressive bloggers is going to the USO no matter what Goldberg does.

“As someone who slept in a few airport USOs while in the service and drank plenty of the coffee at the USO on Bagram Air Field, I know how helpful the USO is to soldiers away from home,” wrote Welch, whose entire post can be seen by clicking here.

Welch added that he’s trying to draw more attention to the fact that many conservative columnists who thought the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a good idea turned out to be wrong, and that these columnists are “still listened to.”

Goldberg told E&P yesterday he offered the 2005 wager “in a foolish fit of pique with Cole. … Cole refused to take the bet. … [Now] it seems that his fans want it both ways. They want to extol Cole as a prince for not accepting the bet, but they want me to be held accountable to it even though he never agreed to it.”

The columnist added: “I will undoubtedly give more money to the USO and to similar charities in the future, as I have done in the past. … Intellectual honesty requires that I admit that Cole would have won had he taken the bet. I have done that. … When I give to charity … I will do it privately which is at it should be.”

Goldberg also said yesterday: “I’ve written that the Iraq War was a mistake. … I join a long list of people whose expectations about the war and its handling turned out to be wrong in whole or in part. … For the record, I still support staying there, because even if it was a mistake to go in when and how we did, that doesn’t mean a precipitous withdrawal will make things better.”

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