Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bernard Goldberg is a Ridiculous Douche

On the Bryant Gumbel-hosted REAL Sports on HBO, Bernard Goldberg is one of the feature reporting interviewers. Goldberg is the Jon Stewart's-bitch guy who looks around at the carnage of the current United States domestic and foreign policy and lists Jimmy Carter as the #5 most dangerous person to the Republic.

Anyway, Goldberg, who "admire(s) Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly a lot because I think they're standup guys," was doing a feature on the bizarre story of this guy, James Hogue. Hogue is a very young looking guy and was an incredibly strong long distance runner when he was younger. He is also an apparently compulsive thief who steals worthless crap from rich people and hoards it. Hogue is now facing 48 years in prison in Colorado for repeat felony petty theft offenses... 5,000 items that total near 100K.

The story was actually kind of fascinating. He'd gone to high school back in Kansas City the first time. He got kicked out of the University of Texas because he was stealing crap then as well.

A few years later, when he was too old to get in at the really top-notch places, he decided to go back. Correctly figuring he'd be rejected with a straightforward approach, he decided to use deception as his only chance. He is a very bright guy, 1400+ on his SATs back when 1400 was not arbitrarily inflated by 100 points or whatever. He was a strong long distance runner. On his own intellectual and athletic merits, with the exception of age, he easily belonged at an elite school.

At first, he wanted to go to Stanford. His Stanford plan depended on enrolling at Palo Alto High School and getting noticed and recruited for his running skill. Before it worked, he was found out and kicked out of the high school.

A couple years later, he decided to go to Princeton. As a teammate and friend on the Princeton track team says in the HBO piece, Hogue's genius was figuring out exactly the kind of quirky story admissions offices love. He told Princeton that he was Alexi Santana, a self-taught cowboy who read Plato under the stars and who could run like the wind. For two years in Princeton's class of '93, Hogue was the life of the party. Nobody was the wiser. He could do the work, he was as smart as everyone else, and he was a natural athlete. However, in 1991, a girl from Palo Alto High School attending Princeton recognized him. Thus, he was expelled, arrested, etc.

Eventually he left the east coast, headed back west and worked as a carpenter in places like Aspen and Telluride. Basically, he doesn't discuss the "why" of his cons, which infuriates Goldberg. Here's a paraphrased version of his questioning on this point:
Goldberg - What makes you do this?
Hogue - I don't know, I'm not a psychiatrist. Forced to guess, I'm probably obsessive-compulsive, who knows.
Goldberg - Maybe you're just a compulsive shitbag. Maybe you do this stuff because you're scum.
That is not taking a cheap shot at Goldberg, who says American liberals are "closed-minded and nasty - and fringe." That's a fair encapsulation. Goldberg cannot mask his incredible contempt for this guy.

I found myself thinking, ok, so this Hogue guy clearly has a problem. He made up stories to to to get into elite universities despite being 10 years older than he said he was, and he compulsively can't stop himself from stealing shovels and mounted elk heads from people in Aspen. It's worthless stuff and he just hoards it. He has a psychological problem. But it's not like he raped anyone, beat anyone up, defrauded the state of California for billions in energy prices, or otherwise truly hurt anyone.

As Goldberg heaped venomously hateful insult upon hateful insult (he was genuinely disgusted by the very fact the guy stole crap), I kept wondering why this shitbag's bile and condemnation was so out of line with Hogue's actual crimes. I didn't get it. Hogue freely admits there's something wrong with him, that he can't help it, that he doesn't have a doctor's level analysis but is pretty sure it's compulsive behavior. Most importantly, he freely admits that his own behavior has landed him in deep shit. Goldberg's hatefulness seemed misplaced - the guy wasn't getting away with anything - he always got caught and punished. He clearly couldn't be benfitting from stealing some rich guy's shovel. He wasn't using the shovel. He's jut a guy with a problem and is not facing the consequences. Goldberg literally thought the guy was so maddeningly inexplicable that he said on camera that he (Goldberg) was close to shooting himself trying to intrview the guy.

Still, it's a neat little time capsule of American conservative shitbag Goldberg values. He self-righteously and openly despises this guy to his face, but is deafeningly silent on the deaths of over a thousand in New Orleans that his conservative, contempt for government itself ideals helped foster.

Bernie, why didn't you just follow through on your deathwish, you fucking scumbag?


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