If You're Fun at Parties, You Can Do Anything

In various circles — online and on TV — I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon.

Pat Buchanan was able to get away with his vile remarks and racist columns because he was collegial off the air and behind the scenes. He was the fun old grampy on MSNBC and got away with murder because of it.

A similar thing is happening with Andrew Breitbart.

His friends and family deserve to mourn, but people unrelated to him as well as people who happened to have bumped into him at parties and media functions are praising the guy as if he didn’t spread proven lies and hoax videos that eventually led to the firing of Shirley Sherrod, the complete destruction of voting rights advocate ACORN, and, most shockingly, the defunding and war against Planned Parenthood.

Yes, it was Breitbart who pulled the strings that ignited this new assault against Planned Parenthood and it was Breitbart who did infinitely more harm to Planned Parenthood than did Komen. It was Breitbart’s prank videos — selectively edited to deliberately mislead the public, the media and Congress — that motivated Eric Cantor and the congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood and ACORN.

This wasn’t ordinary punditry. Andrew Breitbart wasn’t just another political flamethrower and instigator. He was a scam artist whose careerism cost thousands of ACORN workers their jobs, his shenanigans stripped urban areas of a reliable advocate, his lies cost Shirley Sherrod her job, and his self-promotional immorality has essentially turned Planned Parenthood into a fleeing pariah — on the run from Republicans and political extremists alike.

No, I’m not happy that Breitbart is dead. I’m not dancing on his grave and I’m not attacking him personally beyond his public actions. But I refuse to memorialize him with giggles and chummy remembrances about how cool or fun he might have been behind the scenes. I don’t really care and it wouldn’t surprise me if the victims of his careerism felt the same.

David Frum with the final word:

It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous.

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  • http://phydeauxpseaks.blogspot.com Bob Rutledge

    Too fucking right.

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

    Honesty is appreciated. Kudos to you, Bob. And respect.

    Adding……and once again, FUCK Breitbart. He was a seriously bad man, and now he’s gone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chez.pazienza Chez Pazienza

      Sorry, Nicole. I get where you’re coming from — and maybe in some strange way there’s a greater good argument to be made. But I cannot and will not cheer this guy’s death. That’s ghastly. I thought he was dangerous, a scam artist and a liar — but I didn’t want to see him dead.

      • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

        I don’t think anyone is cheering his death, Chez. I’m not, although I will say that I do believe that the greater good has been served by it.

        And, again, I don’t think that a vast majority of people walks around wishing someone dead (as you discussed on the podcast).

        But, I do not think it is anything other than extremely hypocritical when progs try to find nice things to say about him. For obvious reasons.

        More from Frum, bolding mine:

        And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?

        Especially when that career was so representative of his times?

        We live in a time of political and media demagoguery unparalleled since the 19th century. Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

      • agrazingmoose

        The man was a glory hog with no real redemptive qualities or value to speak of in his public life.

        Perhaps he was a good family man. I cannot comment on that.

        But, his career was a result of getting in early and taking as much as he could for himself. A first mover without a soul.

        I would have liked to see him and his ilk slide into oblivion over time, but the world is a better place without him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chez.pazienza Chez Pazienza

    Glad we talked about this subject at length yesterday. And now I feel really special since Frum basically said the exact same thing I did — that Breitbart injected a constant flow of poison into the political media bloodstream. I really don’t doubt that he was a blast to hang out with, but for those who DIDN’T get to hang out with him, he was 100% toxic.

    • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

      Honestly Chez, who cares about hanging out with such a creep? And why should that matter when he’s dead?

      • agrazingmoose

        Exactly.

  • JDS

    Very well written.I feel exactly the same and appreciate the people who refuse to be hypocritical .

  • http://twitter.com/YQRosie Stephen LaRose

    “I never wished a man dead, but I have read more than a few obituaries with some degree of satisfaction.”

    Mark Twain, circa 1885,
    me, today.

  • Treading_Water

    I heard a parable from a rabbi about a man who spread vicious, untrue rumors about one of his rivals. Eventually, a time came when the man became repentant, and went to his rival to ask forgiveness. The rival told the man to go up on a mountaintop and release a bag of feathers into the wind. Then, he told the man “The rumors you spread are like these feathers, and when you are able to find and bring me every feather that you have spread I will forgive you for the lies as well.”

    Breitbart has a lot of feathers to gather, and I’ll reserve my opinion until his task is completed.

    • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

      Great metaphor to use and in this case those feathers are seething hatred.

  • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

    Face it he and Aryanna his BFF are two peas in the same pod. They decided to fan the partisan flames for personal gain. Breitbart on the right and Aryanna on the left. While I think Breitbart like most right wingers was more committed to his hate Aryanna is just as bad since she just made here left turn because it’s harder for conservatives to get on the Hollywood A-list.

    Now we have an even more horrible situation where part of the left acts like the right by using hyperbole, personal attacks, guilt by association tactics, etc. But of course due to Aryanna’s moderation policies the only people who cannot be criticized is her and her tribe. Unless they are like you Mr. Cesca and support the president and Dems. On AOLHP you are left out there to be open game for the hate Aryanna hath wrought. Criticism is one thing but the vitriol these two hate merchants have brought about in the public discourse is a massive disservice to the country.

    • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

      I quit a job back in 1996 primarily because my boss took Arianna on as a client. I was heartily suspicious of her motives when I heard she was swinging left, and she’s done nothing in the past decade and a half to make me think she’s sincere in much of what she does, other than feathering her own nest.

      • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

        Kudos to you for standing by your principles.

        • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

          I’m pretty much a freak in the industry, which is why I got out. I’m much happier now! :)

  • pgeorge

    I’ve been really quite shocked at all the liberals falling all over themselves acting as though Breitbart was merely a colorful adversary, with anecdotes about how much fun he was at parties. Well, I have an in-law that can seem fairly normal socially – if you haven’t seen him put his fist through walls when he feels “disrespected.” Between the doctored tapes and the out of control rage (for example, at Occupy), I’d say this was a man with serious problems, however you spin it.

  • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

    I really really do not get this “when he wasn’t busy destroying organizations that help the helpless he sure was a hoot to hang around with” thing. How could anyone with even a whit of empathy WANT to hang around with a devious fuckwad like Breitbart? Are people so desperate for a whiff of fame that they will hang out with others similarly desperate even though they are amoral liars? Is having a drink with someone who’s been on Bill Maher’s TV show the main thing, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Andrew Breitbart? What’s the difference between all these bloggers rationalizing Breitbart’s actions and Tom Coburn defending John Ensign’s behavior?

    Fucking cliques. These fuckers are all starting to smell the same to me.

    • stacib23

      I don’t know, BG. Lawrence O’Donnell told one of these feel good stories last night about what a great dude Breitbart was outside of the political spectrum. Maybe it’s me, but if you’re an asshole, I don’t want to hang with you even if you’re a bigger barrel of laughs than the fuckin’ fun house at the last carnival on earth.

      • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

        It’s not you. Or if it’s you, it’s me too. My social life doesn’t need that kind of socializing. What is it about Breitbart that made him such a blast? Did he pick up the tab all the time or something? Did nobody tell a racist joke like he could? Could he Riverdance better than Michael Flatley?

        What could Breitbart do that would make me even remotely interested to be in the same room as him, much less share a toast with him? I got nothin’.

        • D_C_Wilson

          I have to agree. I cannot separate the toxic effect he had on our political discourse from his “fun” personality. I’m not going to dance on his grave either, but I’m not going to pretend he was saint just because he’s dead.

          This reminds me of a guy I went to high school with. He was, to be frank, an asshole. Treated the people around him like crap. But some of my classmates thought he was “fun” because, well, he got them pot.

          About ten years after graduation, I learned he was hit by a car and killed. My reaction to his death was similar to my reaction to Breitbart’s death: It was sad that he died young, but I can’t eulogize someone who treated others the way he did.