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A Review of David Brock's Blinded By The Right
March 25 , 2002
Book review by James M. Kehl

Blinded 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 — Buy it!

Click here to buy this bookDavid 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 in Maryland.

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