Jonah Goldberg was on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week this week, promoting the UK publication of Liberal Fascism:

It takes no moral or intellectual courage to point to the things you don’t like and say, “that’s fascist”. It takes real intellectual courage to point to the things you do like and say “gosh, where could this take us”.

Which caused me derisively to hoot, as I have seen the very serious, thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care in action, and watched this Goldberg bowl ludicrous accusations ad sinistram like a toddler lobbing kumquats at the family pooch.

But then I repented my ungenerous reaction. I wondered to myself in this wise: I say, Self, have you been unfair to the Goldberg? has his study of the Swarthmorofascist menace caused him to plumb the measureless depths of his own soul, probing whether he might himself be susceptible to fascism’s seductive charms? Or has, perhaps, the recent canvass caused him a crisis in confidence, urging him to reconsider his support for the last administration’s civil-liberties-consuming binge, making him reflect with worry on his recent activities, much as one facing the jaundiced map in the morning mirror might wonder whether it was perhaps such a good idea to have that fifth martini-with-absinthe?

Self said, not so fast, sunshine. You just wait. And the self was right: it was just that old wheeze, “irony is dead” performance art. Twenty minutes later Goldberg defends the Bush carelessness with civil liberties, without betraying evidence of reflective thought, utterly unable to wonder, “gosh, where could this take us”.

Have another drink, the self said.