of David Brock's Blinded By The Right
25 , 2002
Book review by James M. Kehl
by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
by David Brock
288 pages 1 Ed edition (March 5, 2002) Crown Pub
$18.17 at Amazon.com Buy
Brock's book entitled "Blinded By The Right" is perhaps one
of the most important books written in this young century.
Not since Michael Lind's "Up From Conservatism" has there
been a book that candidly expose the Republican Right for
what they are. This is not only a story of one person's journey
from a wrong path to a correct path. It is also a story which
details the moral bankruptcy of a movement that, unfortunately,
is a major influence in American life.
David Brock's professional career began at The Washington
Times, a paper that lost money and was owned by a cult leader
willing to lose money in order to have influence that could
be gained through control and ownership of a major newspaper.
The Washington Times made no pretense of its right-wing leanings.
Employeees who did not share these opinions did not have any
prospects for career advancement. At this paper, David further
developed some of the skills that would lead to his ascendancy
in the right-wing movement.
The book really gets interesting when David Brock leaves
the Washington Times and goes to work for The American Spectator.
Th American Spectator was controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife,
who, David believes, gave over $200 million to various right-wing
foundations, causes and political parties. One of David's
bosses at the Spectator was Bob Tyrrell, who received an annual
salary of over $300,000. David Brock himself eventually earned
a six-figure at the Spectator. The paper lost money; but Scaife
was willing to fund the losses as long as it adhered to and
tried to advance his right-wing beliefs. One has to wonder
about the good Scaife could have accomplished had he donated
this money to worthy causes.
The conservative movement needed an enemy after Communism
fell. The enemy they found was the "liberal" establishment.
The book is not clear as to why the conservatives detested
the liberals so much. Ultimately, these conservatives became
consumed by their own hatred. No arguments are advanced as
to why the conservative ideology was better than the ideology
of their opponents. David Brock indicates that there was not
even a lot of discussions about it. The sole goal of the conservatives
was to destroy anyone they felt was opposed to them.
Clarence Thomas' nomination to the Supreme Court was considered
necessary by the conservatives. They were willing to break
any rules to achieve that end. David Brock's first best-seller,
The Real Anita Hill, was a slanderous account about the life
and career of the major witness against Clarence Thomas. The
right-wing loved it and David was instantly a big hero. Years
later David found evidence that Clarence Thomas was a habitual
viewer of pornographic videos and films. He concluded that
Anita Hill was telling the truth about Thomas, that he had
unfairly slandered Anita Hill, and that Clarence Thomas' confirmation
as a Supreme Court judge was a big mistake. This conclusion
would prove to be correct in the case of Bush Vs. Gore. Vince
Bugliosi, the author of "The Betrayal Of America", has asserted
that Thomas and his four cohorts are criminals for the way
they decided that case.
The event that really ignited the right-wing's hatred was
the election of Bill Clinton as president in 1992. Years later,
when President Clinton was asked why the right-wingers hated
him so much, he answered "because I won." He was right. The
conservatives somehow convinced themselves that President
Clinton's electoral victory was illegitimate. They were determined
to bring him down at all costs. Scaife funded several investigations
into Mr. and Mrs. Clinton's private lives. Journalistic standards
of objectivity. fairness, accuracy and truthfulness were disregarded.
Rumors were not checked out and were often reported as factual
accounts. Scaife did not care whether or not these stories
were true as long as they damaged the Clintons.
David's book is full of stories about the current right-wing
pundits. Ann Coulter told a disabled Vietnam veteranthat "it
was people like you who lost the Vietnam War." Newt Gingrich
demanded that all conservatives show blind loyalty to the
"cause" at all times. This is perhaps one reason pundits like
Kate O'Bierne and Bob "No Facts" Novak are seen making so
many ridiculous statements on TV. There were, and still are,
many incidents of Rush Limbaugh making false reports on his
show. Gingrich is depicted as a man devoid of principles who
was only interested in power and did not care about the means
he used to attain it.
One of the most sinister characters depicted in the book
is Ted Olson, the current U.S. solicitor general. Olson was
the managing of a prominent law firm who "had always seemed
the model of a sober, careful lawyer with impeccable judgment."
He "was a figure at the pinnacle of the Republican establishment"
who "also led a kind of double life as a consigliere to the
Clinton-hating right." He was on the board of directors of
the Spectator and was involved in the Arkansas Project, an
undertaking financed by Scaife whose purpose was to investigate
and bring down the Clintons. When the Spectator's editorial
board was considering publishing the story that Vince Foster's
death was not a suicide, Olson recommendedthat ,even though
he and Ken Starr believed that Foster had committed suicide,
publishing the falsehood about Foster's death"was a way of
turning up the heat on the administration until another scandal
was shaken loose, which was the Spectator's mission." This
incident showed that Olson "was more interested in partisan
revenge than principle." This incident illustrated that Olson
and many other Republicans were interested in only one goal:
"power for themselves and for the right-wing social and economic
interests they represented." These flaws should have precluded
Olson from being appointed to his current position.
Olson was perhaps influenced by his third wife, Barbara.
Barbara Olson was an attorney on Capitol Hill "where she tried
to show her right-wing colleagues that she could be more flamboyantly
extreme than them- the behavior of an insecure wannabe." David
felt that Barbara may have been trying to hide her lack of
ability because when she was a source for some of his stories
"she was frequently unable to explain basic facts of the cases
on which she worked."
I think that the point of importance about this book is the
moral bankruptcy of those in control of the Republican party.
Despite the harm that they inflicted on the nation, the Republican
leaders were determined to get President Clinton. The Republicans
"from Reagan to Bush to Gingrich to Bush again, pursued a
politics of self-interest that too often aligned them against
the public good." Many af these people are in power today.
There are still people like Richard Mellon Scaife who are
interested solely in maintaing power for themselves and their
descendants and don't care who they have to destroy to do
that. The current Bush Administration contains many of these
people. Since September 11, 2001, Americans have been looking
for leadership, moral strength and reassurance. David Brock's
book is a story of one man who looked for those things " in
all of the wrong places." Americans may be making the same
mistake. David Brock eventually discovered his mistake. I
sincerely hope with all of my heart that America does too.
James M. Kehl is a Certified Public Accountant who works
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