‘We came unarmed (this time)’

Comrade Denham’s post got me thinking. A few months ago I wrote about Blinded by the Right, David Brock’s memoir about his time on the conservative attack machine in the 1990s. He wrote for a variety of conservative publications and worked with senior Republicans towards the goal of bringing Clinton down. He portrays an American right that was corrupt, conspiratorial and deranged.

Here are the examples I quoted; the second one refers to Clinton’s friend and associate Vince Foster, who committed suicide in 1993.

Of all the ‘Clinton crazies’ I would meet – the term was one that Ambrose [Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph correspondent] and many others openly embraced – Ambrose was the least cynical of the bunch, and perhaps the craziest… I visited Ambrose at his home in the Maryland suburbs to hear about his latest scoop. This one involved Clinton’s alleged abuse of the penal system in Arkansas, where Ambrose said that he compelled prison warders to make inmates available to him for his sexual gratification…. Ambrose drew the shades and asked if we had been followed. The CIA, he was sure, had tapped his phones, and he believed his house was under surveillance by the Clintons’ ‘death squads’. A few minutes into the conversation, it was apparent to me that poor Ambrose had lost his grip on reality.

As a mark of how effective disinformers like Ambrose were in drawing the leadership of the Republican Party into their conspiracy-mongering, the leader of the House inquiry, Dan Burton, became preoccupied with the notion that the position of [Foster’s] wounds showed that they could not have been self-inflicted. To test the theory, Burton, who publicly referred to Clinton as a ’scumbag’, reenacted the Foster death [at an official dinner] by firing a .38 caliber revolver into a watermelon.

Reading what I’ve already written, it’s clear I went wrong in describing Blinded by the Right as a period piece. It appears that whenever the American right is in opposition it descends into a state of paranoid frenzy. Brock is now the head of a watchdog, Media Matters for America, and he must be feeling like history’s repeating itself. The birth certificate thing is pure Evans-Pritchard. The frenzy is more intense because the crazies have more and better media outlets and organisational techniques. Plus, they have lost: and to a black man!

For as Jim said, and despite what Dan Hannan thinks, this is clearly a racist campaign. Check out the placards:


There are many more.

It’s a campaign of disbelief, of incredulous fury, and also denial. Johann Hari explains the psychological roots:

The election of Obama – a centre-left black man – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right’s view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin. When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn’t compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of ‘Drill, baby, drill’ have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right’s world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen. Now it is all they can see.

It’s been said in the comments that Obama will not highlight the racism. In fact he can’t highlight it. Political incorrectness means that a victim of racist taunts can’t point out the offence for fear of being accused of playing the race card.

Harry’s Place has a guest post from Andrew Murphy who appears to have taken a similar political journey to Brock’s. In his piece, ‘Why I am no longer a Republican’, Murphy explains his disillusionment with the GOP:

Additionally I become alarmed with the blog I was writing for when they started denouncing Obama as a National Socialist and began peddling the birther mythology that Obama was actually not a US citizen. (At first I was intrigued by the birther idea until I investigated it and found it hopelessly silly, in an Oliver Stone film sort of way). The comparisons of Obama to Hitler did not start with the health care debate. I saw it peddled even before Obama won the Democratic nomination. And shamefully, while I privately protested to the editorial staff of the blog, I did not resign nor was I allowed by the editor-in-chief to write an alternative editorial disputing the birther claims. That was the editorial line, love it or leave it.

Like Brock, Murphy came to feel that modern conservatism had betrayed the classic Republican ideals of personal responsibility, the rule of law and individual liberty. Being a conservative was no longer about intellect, reason, pragatism and honesty. It was about being a stupid, self-pitying, immature arsehole. 

American patriot Horatio Alger said that: ‘if you ever expect to do anything in the world, you must know something of books’. It’s a sentiment that would be shouted down on Fox News today.

From Murphy’s article:

Can you imagine Alexander Hamilton barking like a seal at a Sarah Palin rally as she explains that the only real Americans are rural and small-town Americans? The same Hamilton who was for an urban, manufacturing America?

Or John Adams, one of the champions of the American Philosophical Society, egging on the conservative movement’s war on science and its hostility toward the educated ‘elites’?

It is hard to imagine that Benjamin Disraeli, the author of Sybil, would be indifferent to the millions of Americans without health insurance.

This is a US phenomenon but you can detect similar aspects of self-pity, immaturity and conspiracism on the British right, particularly when it talks about immigration and multiculturalism.

It’s a pleasure to know that the Fox ghouls are on the losing side and that Obama probably doesn’t let the bastards bring him down.

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