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Sunday, May 22, 2005
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go...
Oh my goodness, our ranks have been thinned once again by another "I didn't leave the party, the party left me" Former-Liberal-Looking-For-A-Book-Deal. Meet Keith Thompson:
Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.
I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
Because nothing harshes mindless curbside cheerleading like someone pointing that sometimes the home team doesn't win. And so that moment became Keith's "tipping point" when he walked away from a party that no longer dated him and would it kill them to call him every once in awhile? Of course, no self-respecting newly-born conservative can really be reborn without laying out the details of their pupal state. See how many of these you recognize from the other conversions on the way to road to neo-conism:
I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.
Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.
Youthful idealism? Check.
Marching for peace/civil rights/environment/women's rights? Check.
Use of the expression "card-carrying"? Check.
But then came every teetering liberals nightmare. The dreaded dinner party where an ugly truth slips out...and everything changes:
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.
When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.
My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
Fucking dinner parties. We lose more comrades this way. The dropped silverware. The stony silence. The condescending
hoi poloi elitists with their fancy-schmancy French pronuniciation of Pouilly Fuisse. They are going to be the ruin of the Democratic party someday, I'm telling ya. (Cue Peoples Parties)
Years later, after 9/11, Keith watched in horror as all of the intellectuals (insert sneer here) who would become the post-9/11 bête noire of the right said (or infered or insisted or intoned or choose your own in- word) things that, although complex, could be simplified to mean that America might not have the cleanest hands at the dinner table (those damnable dinner tables again):
Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.
All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.
And so Keith threw up his hands and watched as the party borrowed a friends truck, packed up its stuff and moved out on him, taking some of his books and CD's and that little donkey figurine that they picked up at Kings speech in DC ("we'll always have DC..."), while Keith yelled at the closed door, "You'll come crawling back to me. You'll see. You just wait and see.....Don't go.....I love you." (cue "She's Out of My Life")
So how is Keith adapting to being free of the old ball and chain? Well he timed his little coming out party to coincide with the launch of his...blog.
Now you would think that someone who has been a "card-carrying liberal" would not exactly jump into the deep end on their first day swimming, but with so much competition from such well-established "Hey, where'd the party go?" ex-liberals such as Roger Simon and Michael Totten, Keith decided to make a splash with one of the more lunk-headed strawman arguments this side of Power Line. Enjoy:
Today's lesson is called "Fun with Scenarios."
Assume a Democratic president — perhaps John Kerry. Let's say that, on the strength of his personality and his powerful narrative rendering of what should have happened at Torra Borra(sic) but didn't, Kerry got to the White House with a big enough margin to return leadership of the Senate and House to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Say Reid controls the Senate by 55 votes. The people of Searchlight, Nevada, are justifiably proud of their native son. (Kerry's victory wasn't enough to save Tom Daischle.(sic))
So President Kerry offers this short list of six candidates to fill as many seats on the federal judiciary: Gloria Alred(sic), James Carville, Susan Estrich, Laurance(sic) Tribe, Julian Bond, Alan Dershowitz, and Elizabeth Birch (former head of the gay and lesbian advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign).
In addition, suppose cries of "Don't be greedy," "Let's compromise," "We'll vote yes on the 3 least liberal nominees" were to go up from: Orrin Hatch, Rick Santorum, Bill Frist, John Kyle(sic), and Kay Bailey Hutchison — all of whom threatened to filibuster the nomination process, in the name of "simple fairness."
Given that scenario, do you think we could expect to hear ringing defenses of the filibuster from Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, and Carl Levin? Or do you suppose they would be leading the charge against the filibuster as a "procedural gimmick being used by obstructionists to deny the judicial candidates their right to an up or down vote?"
Wow. He really took to it like a fly to shit. Kudos. But we really shouldn't be too surprised at how naturally that all came out, after all, when he wrote about himself he did say that:
In 1992, he surprised (and appalled) many of his self-styled progressive pals by doing an impression of Sen. Ted Kennedy on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Two years later, he hosted a weekend talk-radio host at a Santa Cruz radio station.
So I'm guessing the party may have left him a long time ago over his dalliance with Limbaugh, but since he's been busy working on his book, he just now found the note on the pillow.
Cue "She's Gone".
(Added: We see that Keith has started marketing himself in the appropriate venues. It's good to see that Power Line has a new pet rock)
(Added even later): I love this from Keith's blog. He sends the link to Power Line and others (AKA "blogwhoring") and then writes this:
So — I write an essay called Leaving the Left, and what happens? I hear from lots-o-peeps — several hundred. From far and wide. It is hard to describe the richness and, let me say, the beauty of the vast majority of the responses that showed up in my in-box today. The predominant theme: Welcome Home. "We left the light on for you," said one writer.
Because the piece got picked up by several right-of-center online publications, it's not surprising that my musings got a decided thumbs-up.
Leaving aside the ridiculousness of a fifty-one year-old man using "peeps", he points out that his piece got "picked up" by the "right-of-center on-line publications" (which is apparently what the kids are calling blogs these days when talking to their "peeps" or their "boyz") and he makes it sound as if it was Kismet and not a classic example of Advertisements for Myself that was the reason why he popped up all over Right Wing Blogistan today.
You know, anyone will eventually get some action if they hang out on a corner long enough and tell every passerby, "Blow you for a nickel.".