Does anyone know where the love of God goes?

TPM mentioned the possibility that Bob Woodward will go the full David Mamet/Judy Miller and start dropping spittle-flecked anti-Obama tirades. We can only hope. I love it when a formerly sane, or, let’s be honest, at least formerly liberal, person becomes a raving wingnut.

I don’t mean when someone wakes up one morning, decides he doesn’t like unions or certain gubmint regulations, and turns into a liberal-hating “centrist” contrarian. Mickey Kaus and Charles Lane bore me, because they don’t tap into that raw, from-the-gut winger rock n’ roll. Reading Michael Barone scream about Obama’s thugogracy is like the right-wing equivalent of listening to “Death Letter Blues”. That’s what I’m talking about!

How does it happen, that someone like Mamet or Barone (please mention your own favorite examples in the comments) becomes a stone cold winger all of a sudden? My guess is that it has to do with loss of prestige and status. When Mamet’s plays started bombing, he starting digging Glenn Beck, when people stopped caring about that Almanac of American Politics thing, Barone became a right-wing crazy. And now that Bob Woodward feels disrespected, he too may become a winger.

I think that this would explain why this happens almost exclusively to men (though TPM mentioned Miller, I think she was always nuts, based on what I’ve read about her conduct in Iraq). The brutal truth is that our society doesn’t accord women that much prestige and status to begin with, so there’s nothing to lose, or not enough to trigger a conversion anyway.

And of course the American conservative movement is now primarily about massaging the fee-fees of white men, so it’s all of a piece.

197 replies
  1. 1
    wormtown says:

    Gordon Lightfoot? Excellent!!!!!!!!!!

  2. 2
    Michael says:

    There was some blogger who was, IIRC, pretty good on foreign policy stuff back in the ~05-06 era, when then became a Hillary supporter during the primaries, and then went full-wingnut when it became clear Obama was going to be the nominee. Johnson something or other?

  3. 3
    Doug Galt says:


    You’re right, there’s also the PUMAs.

  4. 4

    What about MoDo, her anti-Obama screeds are embarrassing, for her that is.

  5. 5
    SteveM says:

    @Michael: Larry Johnson at No Quarter.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    @Michael: Larry Johnson (aka ‘Agent Flowbee’) of the No Quarter blog. He really went around the bend.

  7. 7
    TooManyJens says:

    How does it happen, that someone like Mamet or Barone (please mention your own favorite examples in the comments) becomes a stone cold winger all of a sudden?

    For Dennis Miller, it was 9/11 that awakened his “kill ’em all, and fuck the hippies” persona.

  8. 8
    Hunter Gathers says:

    It’s just an audition for that sweet, sweet wingnut welfare. He’s been a joke for awhile now, so better to cash checks from Uncle Rupert and the KochSuckers than write books that nobody reads anyway.

  9. 9
    Michael says:

    Yeah that’s the guy.

  10. 10
    Capri says:

    I don’t have any prime examples, but as for WHY this occurs, there’s a fairly simple explanation. As somebody once famously told Bob Woodward – “Follow the money.”

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    How does it happen that someone … becomes a stone cold winger all of a sudden?

    Hookers have to walk the streets where they can find Johns that will pay.

  12. 12
    Hill Dweller says:

    I think it’s a business decision. Crazy sells very well on the right.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    Doug, I think it is your duty to watch the Hannity show tonight and report back to us.

  14. 14
    shortstop says:

    I wonder if it has less to do with gender than with a control-freaking personality suffering loss of prestige. Many CFs and narcissists become deeply, deeply angry when their self-vaunted “expertise” isn’t given what they deem the appropriate amount of respect, and they react in overblown rage. They’re convinced they’ve been victimized by not receiving their due deference, and what’s the GOP these days but a cult of self-pitying and simultaneously bullying “victims”? It’s just more socially acceptable for men to be publicly and constantly enraged than for women to behave this way.

  15. 15
    Hunter Gathers says:


    For Dennis Miller, it was 9/11 that awakened his “kill ‘em all, and fuck the hippies” persona

    He also had nowhere else to go. Almost single-handedly killing Monday Night Football won’t do you any wonders for your career.

  16. 16
    CorbinDallasMultipass says:

    To everyone who might eat the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco on March 7th: I think you will regret making that decision #tottalyathreat

  17. 17
    Savage Henry says:

    Not a journalist, per se, but Dennis Miller definitely falls into this category. Didn’t he go full-winger after losing his gig at Monday Night Football? His star was defnintely fading at the time.

  18. 18
    mistermix says:

    You don’t understand: Woodward’s still big. It’s journalism that got small.

  19. 19
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    See Miller, Dennis, for a case in point. It reminds me of an article I read in the alt weekly here in Minneapolis, oh, 20 years ago. The writer described his hurt feelings when somebody at a party sneered at his wingnutty talking point. At that point it became tribal for him. There was no discussion of the validity of his position, just how the librul waz meen to him and how he has a right to hold those positions because CONSERVATIVE!

  20. 20
    Doug Galt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    MoDo is sui generis. Crazy Irish spinster/would-be femme fatale…the truth is I think she’s a good, interesting writer. She just shouldn’t be writing about politics. When she wanks about dating and gender stuff, she wanks ten times better than all the losers at Slate who wank about it.

  21. 21
    aimai says:

    In societies where the top/oldest men monopolize the wives (polygamous societies) younger men are disenfranchised and kicked to the curb.

    The Woodwards and Mamets are suffering from the reverse situation–as they got older they expected to rise to positions of unassailable social and political prominence and relevance, but time and tide wait for no man and they have both been superseded–not so much by other, younger, men in their professions but by a plurality of other media sources for what they used to do. Mamet–like Mailer before him?–traded on a kind of bitter, bitchy, machismo that has fallen out of style. He didn’t mind championing some kinds of “outsiders” so long as the hierarchy of charity was preserved. There’s no doubt that if Obama had submitted himself to Woodward as a kind of “willing pupil” to a man who thinks himself a “master” of Washington Woodward would (more or less) back Obama. Then Obama’s consequence would augment Woodward’s. But Obama, famously, doesn’t need Woodward’s imprimatur and Woodward resents that because access is his life.

    Just look at Woodward’s response to Sperling–he basically says “sure, you might know what you know from your meetings [and possibly from the ACTUAL FUCKING WORDING OF THE SEQUESTER LEGISLATION] but I II “talked to a lot of people.” Therefore my impressions of how they chose to portray themselves to me trumps your recollections and facts.

  22. 22
    Rey says:

    @TooManyJens: I think that’s just Miller’s excuse for being a (failed) opportunist. Pre-9/11, his HBO show was uninteresting and unfunny, plus there was his embarrassing attempt to become an NFL color man.

  23. 23
    Mark S. says:

    It’s not money; Woodward’s gotta be richer than shit. He hardly needs wingnut welfare. Becoming a conservative is almost always based on fear, usually fear of losing something.

  24. 24
    Max says:

    I read one time some other blogger write of this phenomenon, “9/11 happened, then I really started to care about Chappaquidick.”

  25. 25
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Savage Henry: Beat me to it re: Dennis “I impress myself with obscure references” Miller. I should type faster, but it’s hard with 2 hands full of thumbs.

  26. 26
    GregB says:


    Johnson still has moles on the hunt for the infamous Michelle Obama “whitey” video/audio tape.

    Meanwhile, the rabbit hole only gets deeper. The hardcore wingnuts are now comparing Obama and his vile squad of intimidating thugs like Sperling(shiver) to Richard Nixon and his cohort of actual thugs and felons.

    The hilarious part is that they are still Nixon apologists so they are embracing Nixon while condemning Obama for being too Nixon like.

    Read the comments at this nitwits’ blog, All the President’s Thugs.

  27. 27
    red dog says:

    In Woodward’s case his drop into “who cares” since the deep throat stuff made him cannonball into the pond, but the ripples were growing small so a splash was required. I hope no one throws him a life ring.

  28. 28
    RP says:

    David Horowitz
    Ron Silver

  29. 29
    Nylund says:

    It seems to me that the right considers itself perpetually the victim. Someone is always out for their God, guns, or whatever. Everyday is a new outrage. Something they are entitled to is being “destroyed.” So yes, it makes sense when successful people start losing their success or respect, they feel victimized, like someone stole success they’d grown so used to that they felt entitled to it. When that happens, they turn wingnut so they can join the chorus of whiny ass titty babies in a perpetual state of victimhood and hurt feefees.

  30. 30
    aimai says:


    The accusation that the White House “threatened him” is such a classic bullshitter’s, drama queen kind of thing to throw out there. “I think you will regret staking out such a position” is about the farthest thing from a threat you can get–its academic speak for “I won’t call you on your bullshit because I know you are too fragile, would you like to keep your hand on your chesspiece so you can take back this astoundingly stupid move you are about to make before I checkmate you in two moves?” Far from being a threat its like a gentle pat on the head to a defective pet.

    So when he threw it out there he clearly never thought anyone would ask to see the email or who wrote it. He needed to say it to fill the void in his self image/tv appearance caused by his inability to be relevant. “I heard something somethign something about the sequester” being not exactly a smoking gun or the kind of exciting reporting that keeps you on the front pages of anything. How he must long for somebody to spill something juicily national security state to him.

  31. 31
    danimal says:

    Dennis Prager, tripple A wingnut radio personality, used to be a mushy “let’s hear from all sides” kind of guy. He hosted a multi-faith religion show and appeared to be the ultimate moderate. I really wonder if something snapped or the lure of wingnut cash led him to his current position.

  32. 32
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:


    I wonder if it has less to do with gender than with a control-freaking personality suffering loss of prestige.

    It’s just more socially acceptable for men to be publicly and constantly enraged than for women to behave this way.

    An excellent comment.

    I’d expand that last sentence to: It’s just more socially acceptable for straight white “Christian” (so-called) men to be publicly and constantly enraged than for anybody else to behave this way. And the fact that society is oh so very slowly taking away their special entitlement to get their ragegasms on in public, that is just one more thing for them to be enraged about. It is an Oroborus of entitlement and anger.

  33. 33

    Krauthammer has become extra crazy after Obama was elected the first time. He used to be smart and somewhat sane.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    @Howlin Wolfe:

    The writer described his hurt feelings when somebody at a party sneered at his wingnutty talking point. At that point it became tribal for him.

    It constantly amazes me how much of the conservative philosophy can be summed up as follows:

    “I am CONVINCED that the latte-sipping Volvo-driving liberal elitist is laughing at me behind his copy of the New York Times. I just KNOW it’s true, and furthermore, it is not only true, but it’s just so important that it overrides any and all other considerations in my worldview. I mean, I have a pretty thick skin; warrantless wiretapping doesn’t bother me, neither does prison without trial, nor even the return of the torture chamber as an instrument of state. But we all have our limits, and the thought that some liberal, somewhere, is LAUGHING at me, well, that’s just more than any man should have to endure.”

  35. 35
    LGRooney says:

    The fact that Woodward was instrumental in bringing down Nixon is very strong evidence that he was at one time a journalist, not a liberal. Do we have any other evidence that might suggest he was a liberal? If not, we need to stop playing along with this assumption that he is a former liberal. I’ll accept former journalist but without further evidence…

  36. 36
    Marmot says:

    Sometimes I think it has to do with the infirmity that comes with age. Men, especially, who become more vulnerable get more fearful. And fearful people often get conservative-crazy.

    Explains some people I know, at least.

  37. 37
    pzerzan says:

    I don’t think she was initially a liberal but Victoria Jackson holds a bit of a soft spot for this. She was alright on SNL-not memorable but alright-but then she found God and now Obama=Hitler.

    A similar thing happened with Stephen Baldwin. He did a decent job in The Usual Suspects but he always was overshadowed by his brother. Then, finds Jesus and now he’s conservatives Go-To celebrity. Always seems to be the case with washed-out actors-they find God, become conservatives and suddenly their fellow travelers love ’em. Guess that’s showbiz…

  38. 38
    balconesfault says:

    Can we get a shout-out for Lynn Forester de Rothschild?

  39. 39
    dmsilev says:


    Johnson still has moles on the hunt for the infamous Michelle Obama “whitey” video/audio tape.

    You know, it would be absolutely hilarious if there really was a whitey tape and it surfaced now. I mean, what would happen? It’s not like Mitt Romney or John McCain would retroactively win the Presidency.

  40. 40
    Scott S. says:

    Judith Miller was less a wingnut and more a Woodward-style “I’ll write anything you tell me to write” stenographer. I don’t really know if she’s gone hard wingnut yet — I can’t remember the last time I saw her mentioned anywhere…

  41. 41
    Suffern ACE says:

    On the flip side, we have Arianna Huffington, a piece of right wing work if there ever was one, running around the bend to become a Democrat, but not stopping to pass through a blue dog phase, bur landing right in emoprog land. I beieve she left the republican party to protest Al Gore’s candidacy on behalf of aggrieved liberals everywhere.

  42. 42
    Fwiffo says:

    Geraldine Ferraro maybe is similar/related? Dick Morris? (although he was always creepy)

    There is the reverse too. Charles Johnson over at LGF, our own John Cole, David Brock over at MMFA. I might be going out on a limb, but Eric son of Eric might actually make that flip in the next couple years.

  43. 43
    Rey says:

    Now Woodward’s not such a bad fellow,
    He broke some good stories (four decades ago),
    So he wants his respect,
    Or gosh, darn, and oh heck,
    He won’t fellate your presidency, boo-hoo! and oh-no!

  44. 44
    patroclus says:

    If you want a historical example, Dean Acheson comes to mind. He was Present at the Creation and was a very effective undersecretary and then Secretary of State, but after Truman (and he) left office in 1953, he gradually turned into one of the biggest right-wingers of all time (on foreign policy). He would always give the most hawkish statements on anything and everything. Roy Jenkins (the British Labour turned Lib Dem ex-Chancellor), in his book Life at the Center, describes when Ed Muskie was trying to get Acheson’s endorsement that Acheson would make crazy right wing statement after crazy right wing statement and that Muskie would sit there nodding in agreement. Muskie eventually said something like “I agree with 90% of what you say” and would love your endorsement. Jenkins, who was present, wrote that “no sane person” could possibly agree with Acheson and that he lost all respect for Muskie that day (let alone Acheson).

  45. 45
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Scott S.: It think she’s either at Newsmax or Worldnet or PJM or something like that.

  46. 46
    Nied says:

    I don’t know a lot of Sperling’s stuff sounds pretty threatening to me.

  47. 47
    M. Nilsen says:

    Orson Scott Card is my favorite example. Although maybe he was always a closet wingnut. Maybe.

    Favorite post-conversion quote, on the Newtster:

    “despite [Gingrich’s] negatives, there is nobody smarter or more capable or with a better record of good government seeking the office of President right now.”

    Wow. That’s some hardcore cluelessness.

  48. 48
    catclub says:

    Can I just ask why this is not a post about the Pope’s shoes?

    Don’t you people have your priorities straight?

  49. 49
    dmsilev says:

    @aimai: It was an incredibly stupid thing for Woodward to do. I mean, given that the “unnamed White House source” had the full email conversation including all the context, that the White House was virtually guaranteed to send said full conversation to some other reporter, and that any even vaguely sane person looking at said context would instantly see that Woodward was full of shit, Woodward was basically shooting off his own foot.

    When even Erick Erickson doesn’t buy the ‘threat’, you know Woodward has lost the plot.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SteveM: Larry Johnson was always nuts. His moment in the sun came during the Plame Affair, but that was really defending a friend and colleague.

  51. 51
    SFAW says:


    Impeach the Usurper?

  52. 52
    patroclus says:

    @Scott S.: You obviously don’t watch Faux News. Judy Miller’s on there frequently and is more right wing than ever. When she was with the NYTimes, she had editors. Now, the full wingnut shines through in virtually every statement.

  53. 53
    Hidden Heart says:

    I don’t think did happen all of a sudden to Woodward. He may be freshly angry right now but its not like he’s turning his back on a lot of solid writing about the ways that Democratic let alone actually liberal, positions make more sense, save money, improve qualities of life, or anything like that, nor on a bunch of good exposes about how deranged and stupid the right-wingers actually are.

  54. 54
    shortstop says:

    @aimai: I’m just now picking up on this story. Who did release the email? Arch-Nixonian Sperling?

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Yes, absolutely. More self-indulgence from people who don’t even know this is yet another of their privileges. I remember with fondness Gene Robinson’s laughing comment before the 2008 election: “Obama needs to be the least aggrieved black man in America,” lest skittish white folks not vote for him. Not that Obama’s an angry person by nature, but if he were, the public would be the last to know it.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Oh, yeah, Gordon Lightfoot? Interesting choice.

  56. 56
    Suffern ACE says:

    @dmsilev: Isn’t it usually the public officials who get pissed when emails are leaked? What’s Woodward going to do? Complain that he thought the conversation was “off the record?”

    ETA: Maybe one of the major players in Watergate will complain that the administration is archiving e-mails and releasing them unedited to the public.

  57. 57
    Rey says:

    Oh, there’s the novelist John Dos Passos, a long-time leftist whose experiences in the Spanish Civil War* turned him anti-communist. He eventually went on to campaign for Goldwater and Nixon.

    *Hemingway was a big ol’ meanie to him.

  58. 58
    Paul Harrington says:

    @GregB: Woodward’s man-boobs just got caught in the wringer.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Paul Harrington: I just ate. That is not an image I need.

  60. 60
    Bokonon says:


    Just look at Woodward’s response to Sperling–he basically says “sure, you might know what you know from your meetings [and possibly from the ACTUAL FUCKING WORDING OF THE SEQUESTER LEGISLATION] but I II “talked to a lot of people.” Therefore my impressions of how they chose to portray themselves to me trumps your recollections and facts.

    Woodward is caught up in the subjective political theater – it is what he writes about these days, rather than the substance.

    And this whole “OMG – THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION THREATENED ME” thing that Woodward is pulling is part of that. The impression and feelings and drama matters more than the substance. And given how Woodward has heedlessly fed his own leg into a credibility wood chipper on this, I wonder if Woodward can even tell the difference between his subjective feelings and objective facts.

    I am so sick of the drama and irrationality.

  61. 61
    Mark S. says:

    This is Chicago-style politics, and it’s ugly.

  62. 62
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Gordon Lightfoot became a winger?!! This is breaking news to me.

  63. 63
    GregB says:

    Well it is nice to see Benedict will follow the path of Christ in his golden years and dedicate himself to a life of poverty inside his own personal castle with a staff of hundreds.

  64. 64
    Lee Graham says:

    When was Woodward *ever* liberal? He’s been a Republican, at least since the Watergate era… “All the President’s Men” can’t be wrong!

    WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN, staring at the man.


    That’s right.

    I hate both parties.

    And I’m a Republican.

    The middle-aged man looks at him.

    (surprised, turns to


    Who’d you vote for?




  65. 65
    White Trash Liberal says:

    Nobody has mentioned Hitchens yet?

  66. 66
    Doug Galt says:

    @White Trash Liberal:

    He was such a crazy asshole when he was on the left too tho.

  67. 67
    GregB says:

    @Paul Harrington:

    LOL. Forward that to Cole for a tweet.

  68. 68
    Berial says:

    Is there any relation between someone going from Left to Hard right with the opposite? For example, this blog’s owner?

    Perhaps, the difference is simply the reaction someone has to the realization, “Oh, shit! I was really wrong about this thing I thought I was so right about. What do I do now?”

  69. 69
    nancydarling says:

    Every time I hear Woodward’s voice, I remember the conversation he had with Sally Quinn about the Clintons. They were complaining mightily because the Clintons did not pay proper tribute to their Village Tribe. Sally actually said they should have brought “beads and other gifts” (paraphrased).

    Someone gave me one of Woodward’s books in the nineties or early aughts. It was packed with anonymous sources and quotes of things people said. He was getting them second or third hand but writing about them as if he was in the room when the conversation occurred.

    He is a one trick pony.

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pamelabrown53: I was just commenting on the source for the thread title. I have no knowledge of Mr. Lightfoot’s current or former political beliefs. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused and for any defamation of Mr. Lightfoot’s character.

  71. 71
    Judge Crater says:

    When was Woodward ever “liberal”? He was a Republican as a cub reporter. He’s always been a Broder-style chronicler of big-foot Washington. Really a more turgid and self-important version of Sally Quinn.

    Now he’s older and even less hip and he craves a night out with the Politico bad boys. It’s sad really.

  72. 72
    amk says:

    @LGRooney: Yup. He was no steenking librul.

  73. 73
    lacerda says:

    Bob Woodward was never, ever, liberal. He was a Republican when he worked the Watergate story (which is how he knew Mark Felt) and he’s been a Republican ever since.

    The entire premise of this post is false. You’re just watching a haughty country club Republican act the part of a haughty country club Republican. There was never any metamorphosis.

  74. 74
    Scott S. says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    Fair ’nuff. I haven’t been paying very close attention to the wingnut world lately. Makes decent sense that she’d go teabagger, just to salvage her own sense of self-worth…

  75. 75
    shortstop says:

    @Chris: Excellent point. As long as we’re wandering around in gender comparisons (I was, you weren’t): I once read some study that asked people of both genders what they were most afraid of in the other. Women were most afraid of being raped and/or beaten by men. Men reported that their greatest fear was that women would laugh at them.

    Taking some rather large liberties, maybe too large, this is the GOP and the Democratic Party in a nutshell. For conservatives, it’s all about their egos and not being mocked. For Democrats, it’s about helping people avoid starving, becoming homeless and dying from preventable diseases.

  76. 76
    Dan says:

    To answer the question that was posed – ISRAEL ISRAEL ISRAEL

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Doug Galt: Yeah, Hitch like MoDo is sui generis. Also, as I see it, he threw in with the neo-cons because of his militant atheism not out of right-winginess.

  78. 78
    taylormattd says:

    @SteveM: Larry Johnson was *always* a warmongering wingnut CIA agent.

    But like many whites, at least those who have gay friends and don’t go to church (“I’m not a *social* conservative, ok?”), he grew an enormous erection for Hillary Clinton, and how dare that blackety black Kenyan Chicago thug steal the presidency from her??

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @M. Nilsen:

    OSC is that pathologically contrarian kid who just HAS to be smarter than everyone in the room and if he ever catches himself agreeing with you, will reverse himself mid sentence rather than suffer the indignity of agreeing with a lesser mind.

    Hence why even though he’s very much a wingnut, he still castigates the GOP for being too racist or too much of a tool of the rich.

  80. 80
    shortstop says:

    @LGRooney: In his Watergate-era books, he says he abstained from voting in 1972, despite being a registered Republican. He was never a liberal. He just used to hate extreme Republican venality.

  81. 81
    minutemaid says:

    Look on the bright side hypocrit Doug. If Woodward didn’t cry out for attention what would all you gl00m pr0n addicts write about on a slow news day looking for something to write about that gets attention?

  82. 82
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Krauthammer has become extra crazy after Obama was elected the first time. He used to be smart and somewhat sane.

    For me, Krauthammer lost it with the 2000 election. I suspect tied up in there is some kind of mid-life return to religion, which I think is also true of Barone and Fred Barnes. Also too, Marty Peretz, who is simply a stone racist.

    @Doug Galt: the truth is I think she’s a good, interesting writer. She just shouldn’t be writing about politics.

    I thought she was great on two politicians: Bubba and Dumbya. I always found her phoned in and a bit precious on just about every other topic, and I just started to find her unreadable during the ’08 primary, and I think she shares the general resentment of her professional tribe and class toward Obama (because he doesn’t need or respect them politically or psychologically), which manifests in her total inability to write anything remotely clever or insightful about him as she trips and stumbles over her own strained efforts to do that MoDo thing she did with Bill Clinton and Bush II, though admittedly I doubt if I’ve read ten of her columns in the last five years.

  83. 83
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    Let’s not forget that comic book fascist Frank Miller.

  84. 84
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I apologize for any confusion I may have caused and for any defamation of Mr. Lightfoot’s character.

    Sundown ya better take care, If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs…

  85. 85
    amk says:

    So incompetnet coward boner takes the easy way out and with the help of dems, passes senate version of VAWA bill while the his own house version goes down in flames.

  86. 86
    Shinobi says:

    I think it is the killer cocktail of a fox news inspired generalized fear, blood pressure medication and older people with smart phones.

    That’s about when some of my family members stopped making any sense. Fox news has got them all wound up that everything is going to suck forever and that it’s going to be my problem. (But not their fault, or republicans fault, NOOOO Obama’s fault.) And then the blood pressure meds make them forgetful, and te worst ones are on their stupid iPhones like every second of the day. Rationality has left the building folks, and been replaced with Crochetiness.

  87. 87

    My speculation on process:

    Let’s say you’re an asshole. You enjoy being angry, you like the sound of your own voice, you love the high of claiming you have the moral high ground, and you like to use it to kick people. By chance, you start out liberal, raging against wars or police or hunger or whatever, but you were always in it for the rage. The Republican Party has staked itself out as the party of assholes. Sooner or later, they throw out an asshole position that feels really good to you – poor people can only be saved by letting them suffer, black-on-black violence means it’s their own fault, only traitors would question the need to annihilate the Muslim Threat after 9/11. You immediately find yourself fighting other liberals, and switch sides. Now you’re surrounded by expertly crafted asshole memes, and can really let loose your inner two year old. A conservative zealot is born.

    It’s kind of the opposite of Cole’s ‘You GOP fuckers don’t give a damn about doing the right thing, do you?’ moment.

  88. 88
    Doug Galt says:


    Can we really not write “gloom” without triggering the spam filter?

  89. 89
    taylormattd says:

    Dennis Miller
    Michael Medved

  90. 90
    Scott S. says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: Maybe there’s something about the Miller surname that makes people go wingnut crazy…

  91. 91
    taylormattd says:

    @minutemaid: DougJ is a “gloom porn” addict?

    I think you may have meant to write that in one of Freddie’s posts.

  92. 92
    shortstop says:

    Has anyone mentioned Dick Morris, who was never really liberal, but still…

  93. 93
    kindness says:

    If Woodward really wanted to be the center of attention he should go and shoot himself in a nearby National Park. We’d then have another Vince Foster brewhaha.

    On the plus side we’d never hear from Woodward again. Me, I kinda hope he does it the sick bastard.

  94. 94
    GregB says:

    @Scott S.:

    Frank Miller!

    Din’t scroll up far enough to see this tool bag mentioned!

    We are the 300!

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @taylormattd: It’s Fred/Derf/[insert stalker troll nym here]. Best ignored.

  96. 96
    patroclus says:

    Woodward does not have “beliefs” as we understand them – liberal or conservative. Right now, he is Eric Cantor’s stenographer; previously, he was Mark Felt’s stenographer. At other times in his life, he’s been the stenographer for other Republicans, most notably, some Bush-era WMD lying sycophants. Oft-times, he throws in a little hagiography to go along with his stenography.

    He doesn’t care about jobs, growth or helping grandmothers; he cares about his book sales.

  97. 97
    vagabundoloco says:

    How does it happen, that someone like Mamet or Barone (please mention your own favorite examples in the comments) becomes a stone cold winger all of a sudden?

    Another one of these types – Malcolm Muggeridge. He started off as a British leftist advocate of communism and socialism, then later in life converted to conservative Christianity and Catholicism and turned into the crustiest of conservative political reactionaries.

    Muggeridge famously appeared on a British talk show to lambast the Pythons, John Cleese and Michael Palin, for making the Life of Brian which he condemned as “blasphemous” and “an attack on Christianity.”

  98. 98
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: I don’t know if he was ever a liberal, but I believe Stan Lee is a hard core neo-con.

    Dennis Hopper IIRC went nuts with 9/11, along with fellow ex counter culture guy Rip Torn, but Hopper came back to light in ’08, I think. Also too, Jon Voigt. And Kelsey Grammar, who had a personal connection to 9/11 (his producers and close friends, a husband and wife named Angel, I think), but I can’t imagine he was not influenced by the staggering amount of money he made playing gay-vague for twenty years while chasing strippers.

  99. 99
    SFAW says:


    Let’s say you’re an asshole. You enjoy being angry, you like the sound of your own voice, you love the high of claiming you have the moral high ground, and you like to use it to kick people.

    Schmuck! What the hell did I ever do to you? You don’t have to tell EVERYONE about me, ya know.

    Oh, wait – you weren’t talking about me?

    Never mind.

  100. 100
    Shinobi says:

    Oh man, I just had the most ridiculous facebook argument. Someone posted about the Bob Woodard thing, criticizing Obama, I posted the full text of the e-mails. His response “It’s probably Bush’s fault anyway.”

    WHAT? Seriously people, when you’re wrong, backtrack, don’t non sequitor me into being a bitch to you.

  101. 101
    shortstop says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I would like to think that Gary Sinise was once liberal. If not, then back in the day I wasted a lot of…well, enough said.

  102. 102
    Chris says:


    Either that or he was a Republican in the Goldwater/Reagan wing of the party, who saw Nixon as a big spending Keynesian who was basically a meaner, more populist version of Nelson Rockefeller. Let’s not forget that the hard right wasn’t entirely sorry to see Nixon go.

  103. 103
    amk says:

    @vagabundoloco: Wasn’t muggeridge the one that mugged P G Wodehouse during WW II and made him to permanently flee to US ?

  104. 104

    How does it happen, that someone like Mamet or Barone (please mention your own favorite examples in the comments) becomes a stone cold winger all of a sudden?

    It’s not all of a sudden. Mamet has been leaning towards winger a long, long time. He just never said anything. You can see it in his work, though. He wrote “Wag The Dog,” remember.

    And then I think 9/11 really pushed a lot of these folks over the edge. A large number of people got 9/11 Derangement Syndrome. Hollywood people weren’t immune to that.

  105. 105
    amk says:

    @vagabundoloco: Wasn’t muggeridge the one that mugged P G Wodehouse during WW II and made him to permanently flee to US ?

  106. 106
    PIGL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: how do you figure this? I mean, what possible common ground is there between “militant atheist” and “neconservative”?

  107. 107
    Joey Maloney says:

    @RP: Horowitz is a special case. I’m pretty sure it’s repressed guilt for the role his kissing up to the Black Panthers played in the murder of Betty Van Patter that led him to flip from being a narrow-minded left wing asshole Stalinist to a narrow-minded right wing asshole Stalinist.

  108. 108
    Alex S. says:

    I read one of Woodward’s later books on the Bush administration, I can’t recall which one. I didn’t pay attention to Woodward’s style of journalism but the book confirmed to me that the Bush administration went to war with Iraq under false pretenses. Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to go to war with Iraq immediately after 9/11. So I still think that his later career was useful. I don’t know, maybe Woodward is reacting to a changing culture of White House media relations that makes him irrelevant. On the other hand, he’s old, why doesn’t he retire? Well, all these people in the professional political media, like the politicians themselves, are drawn to power. This loss of power is what Woodward fears. So I’m not sure that it’s a matter of going hardcore wingnut alone.

    My favorite case of conversion is Michael Barone. When I started reading political blogs, around 2007, he was respected and sometimes useful. Nate Silver linked to him a few times in early 2008. But with Obama’s victory it got really bad. A historian should know better…

  109. 109
    eemom says:

    Great song. Fuck Woodward.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PIGL: Neo-cons were/are about projecting power in the Middle East. Hitch was for fucking with militant Islam. The two happened to have objectives that caused them both to favor certain actions.

  111. 111
    the Conster says:


    Sure explains John McCain. No one can hold a grudge against someone pricking his thin skin like that mofo.

  112. 112
    SFAW says:

    @the Conster:

    You DO know he was a POW, right? So ease up on him.

  113. 113
    Chris says:


    If I remember right, a lot of neocons started out as staunch Democrats and moved over to the GOP in the sixties either in reaction to the counterculture or because they thought the Democrats were getting soft on foreign policy. Suffice it to say that yes, I could totally see a hardcore atheist being a neocon. Christian Right nonsense doesn’t tend to be their cup of bullshit.

  114. 114
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    as to Woodward, I agree with those who say he was always a Republican, I think in the Broder mold: I’m an Eisenhower moderate, so all Republicans are. They want to see in the White House what they see in the mirror of their delusions, to wit: John McCain. I’ll never forget the Broder column from 2005, after all the revelations about torture, after we knew we had been lied, “unintentionally misled” per Broder, into a war, Broder wrote with indignation that it was simply nonsense that Bush was a radical, because Andy Card was his Chief of Staff, and David Broder had known Andy Card for thirty years. So suck it, hippies.

  115. 115
    Joey Maloney says:

    @SFAW: He was? My goodness! Why didn’t he mention that during his Presidential campaign? It could have made all the difference.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:


    There were a fair number of people who were disillusioned with Communism after the Spanish Civil War, but it seems as though it was mainly the ideologues that went there looking for certainty who did a 180 degree turn to the opposite side. George Orwell was able to stay on the left while criticizing Stalin and Communism.

  117. 117
    PIGL says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: By Jove, I believe you’ve got it. The only missing part of an otherwise highly explanatory hypothesis is the 60s and 70s…this sorry lot of insubstantial, bullying, opportunistic pseudo-intellectuals presented as being on the left in college because that’s where all the hot babes were; young women whom they could sexually exploit with their male dominance and braggartly asshole-ishness, disguised with the scent of patchouli and cheap mexican weed. When 2nd wave feminism hit big in the late 70s, their supply of sexual prey started drying up, as their hairlines also too began to recede in inverse proportion to their tummies expansion, and as their substance abuse issues became more and more difficult for a self-respecting and aware sex-object to ignore.

  118. 118
    mainmati says:

    @Hunter Gathers: Woodward’s embarrassing tripe of books on W’s maladministration was clear evidence for me that he had fully arrived at Washington Courtier status. I never paid attention to him after that.

  119. 119
    SFAW says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    He was? My goodness! Why didn’t he mention that during his Presidential campaign? It could have made all the difference.

    He’s too classy a guy to do something like that.

    Besides, when he was so busy rushing back to DC to save the economy, plus telling everyone to get off his lawn, when would he have had the time to let people know about that? And, FSM know, the Lie-beral media wouldn’t ever tell anyone.

  120. 120
    smintheus says:

    Victor Hanson used to be left of center, at least on many issues, until he was turned down in mid career for a job at Stanford. That stung, and he blamed the lefties in the Classics Dept. there for blackballing him (over his research agenda). He began to lash out at trendy left-wing academic theorists more and more, though he remained rather moderate for some years. He certainly was able to understand the futility, brutality, and madness of much ancient warfare. Then Cheney and the neocons began to cultivate him after 2000, and it was like catnip to his wounded ego.

  121. 121
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Hitchens was also a great believer in using US military power to bomb our way to freedom and liberty for all

    “That war [Bosnian war] in the early 1990s changed a lot for me. I never thought I would see, in Europe, a full-dress reprise of internment camps, the mass murder of civilians, the reinstiutution of torture and rape as acts of policy. And I didn’t expect so many of my comrades to be indifferent – or even take the side of the fascists. It was a time when many people on the left were saying ‘Don’t intervene, we’ll only make things worse’ or, ‘Don’t intervene, it might destabilise the region. And I thought – destabilisation of fascist regimes is a good thing. Why should the left care about the stability of undemocratic regimes?

    He hated Clinton for not nuking Pyongyang to liberate the Korean people.

  122. 122
    Woodrowfan says:

    Woodward started making crap up back when he claimed to have had a deathbed interview with Bill Casey. Casey had so many CIA guards around him that there’s no way Woodward would have been able to get in to see him. But Woodward is determined to be the insiders’ insider.

  123. 123
    shortstop says:

    @Chris: I’m kind of obsessed with the Nixon administration and Watergate. I barely remember it, even though my husband is a year younger than I and recalls the whole impeachment process clearly, but as an adult I became fascinated by it. Anyway, I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but Elizabeth Drew’s obscurish book about being a Washington reporter in 1973-74 is surprising to our modern sensibilities in that it’s chock full of examples of Republican lawmakers who were genuinely appalled by Nixon’s corruption. Their comments are just a fascinating read.

    You’re right that the ideological fringe was happy to see Nixon go for reasons of intraparty politics. But there were many others who’d been fine with Nixon’s policy stances from the start and came to believe he had to go because of the pure indefensibility of his actions. From where we sit today, watching a GOP that will tolerate and hotly defend absolutely any shady and flat-out illegal behavior from one of its own, it seems incredible that there was ever a Republican party that could draw those moral lines.

  124. 124
    minutemaid says:

    @Doug Galt: Ask Wr0ng W@y Cole. Yea, those words are apparently in the word filter…lol. It’s not my world or my rules. I just subvert them.

  125. 125
    Chris says:


    Yep. It’s why Orwell remains probably my favorite political writer of the 20th century.

  126. 126
    Sly says:

    Mamet followed the same path as Ronald Reagan and embraced conservatism after reading Whittaker Chambers’s Witness (a bit late, but whatever), which finally allowed him to fully embrace his inner Baruch Goldstein. Michael Barone was the kind of liberal that Phil Ochs sang about; a rational and feeling human being so long as he didn’t think it cost him anything. Its the same story with a lot of McGovernites who turned Yuppy.

    Further, David Brooks became a conservative in his 20s because he lost a debate with Milton Friedman and bettering his arguments seemed like too much work. Dennis Miller was always a feckless glibertarian, but lost the last scraps of his soul and sense of humor when he saw 9/11 from his Barcalounger in Burbank. 9/11 also convinced Dana Loesch, who was Clintonite, that Single Payer Health Insurance and organized labor were against God’s plan for America.

    Hitchens was never a conservative, just a fellow traveler when it came to categorically hating on Muslims. Michael Medved, however, was always an asshole.

  127. 127
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: FWIW I agree with Hitchens on Bosnia. That quote sounds a lot like me circa 1992-93. WRT North Korea not so much.

  128. 128
    Jay C says:


    Let’s say you’re an asshole. You enjoy being angry, you like the sound of your own voice, you love the high of claiming you have the moral high ground, and you like to use it to kick people

    Send a resume to the Washington Post: you’ll probably be short-listed for their next pundit opening….

  129. 129
    Mnemosyne says:


    I mean, what possible common ground is there between “militant atheist” and “neconservative”?

    In the case of Sam Harris, the common ground seems to be “kill the wogs/Muzzies” since he has said many times that he considers Islam to be a “uniquely dangerous” religion. Strange bedfellows, and all that.

  130. 130
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I agree on Bosnia, and Libya and Syria and Mali… all complicated matters where at the very least the temptation to intervene is strong, and the risks of intervention are real, but Hitchens became a true believer in bombs for freedom. He was John McCain before John McCain was cool.

  131. 131
    kuvasz says:

    Those who move from the Left to the Right often confuse people who have a basic misunderstanding of their personality. Usually, as in the case of that nutjob David Horowitz, who was himself a doctrinaire Lefty in his youth and became a Right Wing crazy, his authoritarian attitude was present throughout his career. This time, he got paid better for it to mouth the Right’s tripe than remaining on the Left.

    Guys like Dennis Miller projected his lack of empathy in his comedy long before he sought his bucket of gold over the Right Wing rainbow. So it comes as no surprize that such a characteristic would led him to cash in in the only place where a lack of empathy gets rewarded, the Right.

    Woodward is a blowhard, who regardless of the great access he has gotten from politicians remains spoiled about it and considers it an “entitlement” rather than being granted a favor. The guy is pissed off because he thinks that he was born with political access and resents being told to get off the lawn.

  132. 132
    Sly says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    And a lot of atheists, just as uppity “militant” as Hitchens, were against the war. Dawkins and Stenger, for example. And yet there were other atheists who may have agreed with either Hitchens or Dawkins on questions of war, but didn’t take kindly to the sexism of either. Or may have agreed with Sam Harris on the question of free will, but disdained his soft-pedaled Buddhism.

    There is no atheist Pope, no curia deciding what is atheist canon and what is apocrypha, and no revered saints. That’s kind of the point.

  133. 133
    NonyNony says:


    The connection between “militant atheist” and “neoconservative” is pretty much exactly the same as the connection between “fundamentalist Christian” and “neoconservative”.

    There’s no real connection there – you have to look for the hidden variable that they have in common (as you point out). In the case of Hitchens – he wasn’t a neoconservative because he was a militant atheist – he was a neoconservative because he was a warmongering asshole (which did not arise from his militant atheism – if anything it seems to have arisen from his complete misunderstanding of the works of George Orwell).

  134. 134
    Time and a Word says:

    Kelsey Grammar’s law-and-order gene got revved up at an early age thanks to all the murders that occurred in his family, so his transformation to full wingnut isn’t really surprising. He’s also done tons and tons of blow, which I understand can really affect your critical thinking capabilities.

  135. 135
    Chris says:


    That explains it on a personal level, but on a structural level I think it’s also important to remember – being a conservative is just a great career move. There’s an enormous, very well funded conservative echo chamber with no equivalent on the left which will nurture and take care of you no matter what as long as you’re loyal to them. Even if what you write is so far out there that they won’t let you into their “mainstream” news outlets, they’ll find a place for you somewhere in some right wing rag. Heck, Rupert Murdoch has papers out there that he keeps open and funded even though they operate at a loss.

    It pays very, very well to be a Professional Conservative.

    To make things more attractive, being a conservative reporter is easy. You don’t have to do any real work, just repeat the party line and push the right buttons. Journalism in the proper sense of the word isn’t required. If Nate Silver releases polls that are bad for conservatives, you can address that news story by simply writing “yeah, but Nate Silver’s a homo.”

    And to make things even more attractive – since conservatism is basically about stoking people’s resentments, it’s an opportunity for the Professional Conservative to pour out all of his personal issues and resentments in public, and be rewarded for it. The girl who broke up with you becomes an article about how liberalism is encouraging women to hate men. The black guy who got the job you wanted becomes an article about how liberalism is promoting unqualified nonwhites. The college professor who didn’t give you a double A plus with a smiley face on all your papers becomes an article about liberal witch hunts on university campuses. Etc, etc, etc. You get to say “NOBODY LIIIKES ME!” over and over again and get paid for it, and get rewarded with the adoring and approving love of millions of people.

    TL/DR: being a Professional Conservative is easy, it’s satisfying, and it’s a winning career move. That’s a lot of temptation for any journalist or “opinion maker.”

  136. 136
    Anna in PDX says:

    @Doug Galt: Well there’s a low bar.

  137. 137
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Mamet was never a liberal. He is an academic who lives in Boston. One must account for cultural milieu in these matters.

  138. 138
    Anna in PDX says:

    @Mark S.: With Woodward I think it is entirely ego. Why do any of these rich guys keep trying to get approval? What about Friedman, why doesn’t he retire? Because he wants the approval of his Wall Street buddies who he vacations with on Martha’s Vinyard.

  139. 139
    Another Halocene Human says:

    When Mamet’s plays started bombing, he starting digging Glenn Beck

    Honestly, you could say the same of Dennis Miller, Victoria Jackson, and Ted Nugent. Even Chuck Norris. All of them had mild winger tendencies before, but went full metal wingnuts when their careers had wrung out completely.

    The thing is, unlike the others I mentioned, Mamet was brilliant, if quirky, and his plays were controversial, which is almost as good.

    Who knows–maybe it is ODS. Or even reverse BDS from living in Boston which was pretty fucking anti-W.

  140. 140
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: [Hitchens] hated Clinton for not nuking Pyongyang to liberate the Korean people.

    Hitchens hated Clinton for getting more pussy than he did when they were at Oxford.

  141. 141
    Joey Maloney says:

    Rats, I used a baaaaad word.

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: [Hitchens] hated Clinton for not nuking Pyongyang to liberate the Korean people.

    Hitchens hated Clinton for getting more p-word than he did when they were at Oxford.

  142. 142
    Lawrence says:

    @Mnemosyne: Having read The End of Faith I would charachterize Sam’s position as: All religious belief is harmfull. Some religions are more disposed to violence than others. Islam is a violent religion, while Jian Buddhism is not. I will not deny that Sam talks himself into some odd positions, chiefly his defense of torture.

  143. 143
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: He doesn’t make her special place throb because she has weird daddy issues and Obama, being a fundamentally decent and normal person, fails to trigger it. Don’t think it’s ODS. MoDo has always been the Norman Mailer of the Op-Ed page, letting her ‘nads do the thinking.

    It’s so much easier than careful analysis. She might have been less bowled over when “Obambi” won the nomination.

  144. 144
    Chris says:


    See, my theory for a while has been that the reason Nixon was so completely destroyed by Watergate is because so much of Washington loathed his guts. Mainstream Democrats hated him for destroying their forty year old coalition. Dixiecrats hated him for beating them at their own game without making the world safe for segregation again. Moderate Republicans hated him because he was a dangerous populist who hated them as much as the Democrats. Movement conservatives hated him for being a big-spending liberal. All his support came from voters; none of the established blocs in Washington saw him as “one of their own.” If they had, it might not have been enough to save him, but it would at least have been enough to generate a “Nixon was RIGHT!” kind of revisionist narrative like we’ve seen done for McCarthy.

    I may have to read that book, because it sounds like it might change my mind. The reason I find it incredible that something like Watergate would change people’s minds about Nixon just on general principle is that there was just SO MUCH stuff like that going on already – COINTELPRO and all of Hoover’s dirty dealings, the Tonkin Gulf resolution and LBJ’s other shenanigans as a dirty politician, etc. It just doesn’t seem like Watergate in and of itself would’ve been enough to bring Nixon down unless there were already lots of people who wanted his head.

  145. 145
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @shortstop: ding ding ding (Woodward and Mamet), but if you want a rage queen, there’s always Michelle Malkin

  146. 146
    melchiscott says:

    @Lee Graham: This is the theory I subscribe to. Guys like Mamet and Woodward and so on, probably weren’t really liberal to begin with. They were just misunderstood.

  147. 147
    quannlace says:

    And even though the full email is available to prove that it’s nothing close to what Woodward is claiming, CNN joined in on the breathless speculation.
    Rep Ellison called Hannity one of the worst journalists? Wolf Blitzer isn’t far behind. Did he fall for ‘Friends Of Hamas’ too?

    And part of the prestige thing is you have to have big, important, powerful enemies; even if you have to make them up.

  148. 148
    Joel says:

    @RP: Ron silver at least voted for Obama before he died.

  149. 149
    Chris says:


    I admit I couldn’t bring myself to finish “Letter To A Christian Nation,” but the sentence “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them” is plenty enough for me.

    Chalk it up to growing up in the 9/11 era: I am sick to fucking death of people telling me that I need to be terrified of the family up the street because they have a weird religion and some of the people who share it have turned out to be terrorists. I spent eight or nine years hearing it from theocratic televangelists and fascist bloggers before finding out who Sam Harris was, so I was pretty well primed not to like him when I heard it from him.

    Didn’t know he supported torture, but I’m utterly unsurprised to hear it.

  150. 150
    high-pH Chemist says:

    Wasn’t Michael Savage (Wiener) a lefty until he didn’t get a job some minority female got instead? I think I recall Ferlinghetti talking about having photos of Savage skinny dipping with Ginsberg back in the 70’s.

  151. 151
    Another Halocene Human says:

    What surprises me constantly is that William Shatner, who aspires to Bill Clinton levels of narcissism, whose career has been rocky (okay, so Denny Crane, but the show is over! he’s doing internet ads with his daughter now), who (I am convinced) is a closet-case watching all the young kids come out, has not turned into a wingnut. The guy may be an asshole, but he made a pretty public and impassioned plea for tolerance about a month ago. It’s also no secret that he and former Trek colleague George Takei have bad blood but he hasn’t done the winger radio circuit bad-mouthing him or anything like that. (Trek trivia: Sulu was supposed to become captain of the Excelsior in STII, but Shatner deliberately flubbed all the takes. Doesn’t happen until STVI. Shatner is a grudge holder.)

    It’s actually kind of amazing considering some of the stuff he said about himself and others in his autobiography (“funny” stories that make him sound like a jackoff, revealing someone else’s personal trauma that wasn’t his story to tell).

    Word is, he loves his kids (one of them maintains his website with the nutty regulars on his forum… yeah, not exactly the same crowd as Wheaton’s blog. The two websites had a flamewar once, actually). Is that the difference?

    Or maybe it’s the Canadian in him?

    Shatner grew up speaking two languages and was one of those old school 60’s flaming liberals. He did a number of projects back then that were political in nature, including a film about a bigoted Southern preacher considered one of his better performances before STIII.

    Canadians seem to be less egotistical than Americans. Maybe the ego reaction is fear. Lack of a social safety net or healthcare?

  152. 152
    shortstop says:

    @Chris: I think you’re overestimating the number of people who weren’t with him politically. Moderate Republicans didn’t particularly have a problem with him. Movement conservatives were still a real minority. Personally, no one liked him. I mean, no one.

    What put people over the line in many cases — and you’ll see this if you read this book — is the feeling of personal betrayal (on top of Nixon having taken the ongoing dirty stuff to new extremes). For months and years, Nixon lied to the faces of his partymates about the extent of his involvement in Watergate. Many of them went out and defended him publicly, only to find out they’d been had. Some of the moral outrage is strictly anger at having been made fools of — but again, does anyone on the right do that today? John McCain went and begged at the feet of Karl Rove after Rove destroyed him in the Carolinas eight years earlier with tales of a black child conceived in an affair. They almost never eat their own in public now, except for ideological battling (such as that between establishment GOP and teabaggers), which has nothing to do with refusing to countenance moral turpitude.

    To be clear, I’m not saying the 1974 GOP acted sheerly out of ethics. I’m saying that bona fide shock at the depth of Nixon’s corruption was a real factor in their turning their backs on him (read the book to see that this is, in tons of cases, not posturing), and that there actually was a line that could not be crossed in those days.

  153. 153
    quannlace says:

    Michael Medved

    Medved does manage to have one good show a month- when he has ‘Conspiracy Day’

  154. 154
    jonas says:

    @danimal: Prager lost it after 9/11. I used to listen to him on KABC back in the day in LA and he was exactly like you said — right of center, but reasonable and often interesting. Then he moved to a new AM station that featured only right wing hacks like Hugh Hewitt and basically lost his mind.

  155. 155
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:


    See, my theory for a while has been that the reason Nixon was so completely destroyed by Watergate is because so much of Washington loathed his guts.

    Having lived thru this period (the 1972 election was the earliest one which, although too young to vote in, I followed with a semi-adult level of comprehension and understanding) I’d say this is a perceptive and fairly accurate summary.

    I’d qualify the phrase “so much of Washington” with the modifier establishment Washington because during the Nixon admin there was a very significant shakeup in the distribution of real power within the executive branch, which created new loyalties. There were plenty of people who were Nixon loyalists, they just weren’t the traditional power brokers. You might say he came in and trashed the place, and it wasn’t his place to trash, for reals.

    The other thing is, loyalty is a 2-way street. Part of the reason why so many people loathed Nixon is that he wasn’t loyal to anybody. There is a quote from the early stages on the 1968 campaign in Nixonland in which RMN (at the time looking to shake down long-time campaign contributors for more cash while double-crossing them on policy) complains “what’s the point of having friends if you can’t take advantage of them?”.

  156. 156
    Barry says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: “Krauthammer has become extra crazy after Obama was elected the first time. He used to be smart and somewhat sane. ”

    When? He used to be sorta articulate (his wingnut niche was a WFB-lite), but he was always a Dr. Strangelove. I think that the biggest things which have changed with him is that he doesn’t hide his psyhopathy as much, and people have stopped respecting him. He rode a very long time as a respectable person.

  157. 157
    shortstop says:


    I’d qualify the phrase “so much of Washington” with the modifier establishment Washington because during the Nixon admin there was a very significant shakeup in the distribution of real power within the executive branch, which created new loyalties. There were plenty of people who were Nixon loyalists, they just weren’t the traditional power brokers. You might say he came in and trashed the place, and it wasn’t his place to trash, for reals.

    This is a significant point. His attempt to completely turn the agencies upside down and put them under the direction of WH staff members — plus his “supercabinet” idea — completely pissed off members of both parties who had deep stakes in the way things had always run.

    He gave the people who hated him the means to destroy him. But it wouldn’t happen today, because the tribalism is just too strong.

  158. 158
    jonas says:

    Roger Simon, founder of the esteemed “Pajamas Media” empire, was once a self-described leftist novelist and screenwriter who heard the call of Teh Crazy after 9/11 and never looked back.

  159. 159
    Barry says:

    @Fwiffo: “There is the reverse too. Charles Johnson over at LGF, our own John Cole, David Brock over at MMFA. I might be going out on a limb, but Eric son of Eric might actually make that flip in the next couple years. ”

    Note that Charles Johnson and John Cole were persuaded over a period of time, moved to the center, and since then really haven’t move left so much as lost patience and realized that the current right is irredeemable. And it was a process, backed by evidence. And in Cole’s case, there was no sweeeeeeeeet Soros cash involved.

    Unless Rosie was the payoff :)

  160. 160
    Lawrence says:

    @Chris: Haven’t read Letter to a Christian Nation yet. Sam’s torture position is roughly: Americans approve of war. War causes the death and maiming of civilians that is the equivalent of torture, or worse. Therefore, why do Americans oppose torture? I think the better conclusion to take from this, even if you accept the premise, is that Americans should remember to be horrified by war, and stop doing it so promiscuously. Sam also cites an instance of a real (as opposed to the common fantasy invocation) ticking bomb scenario: Police, in England I think, arrest a car jacker. He has items from the vehicle on him (no question of guilt) but won’t confess or tell where he dumped the car. The car has an infant inside who will suffer dehydration or death unless rescued. Detective beats a confession out of suspect. Child saved. Bazinga! Now tell me that being categorically against torture is an uncomplicated moral stance (near quote). Good one Sam. But I will still draw a distinction between the known possibility, even if a near certainty, of civilian casualties in war, and strapping someone down and inflicting torture. Especially, unlike his Police example, pre meditated, planned for torture complete with devices, special rooms, policy manuals, etc.

  161. 161
    ricky says:

    I think it was the late nights in empty car parks waiting to be fed.

  162. 162
    vagabundoloco says:


    Could have been the case. I only became acquainted with Muggeridge by reading Hitchen’s book on Mother Teresa. Muggeridge apparently was the one largely responsible for catapulting Mother Teresa into celebrity with his book/documentary Something Beautiful for God

  163. 163
    Trollhattan says:

    As long as I’ve been aware of his existance, Krauthammer has always been a talking ghoul. Now that Novak has departed, stage right, Chuckie has the role all to himself.

  164. 164
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @taylormattd: Christopher Hitchens was a winger? When? The only winger thing he did was support the Iraq war (and never really change his mind about that). Otherwise, I love reading his writings. He’s one of the most non-racist, non-sexist White men that I’ve ever encountered (started reading him in the Nation and continued when he wrote for Slate and Vanity Fair).

  165. 165
    Davis X. Machina says:

    People do go the other way. Garry Wills began his post-National Review career as the conservative half of a dueling-columnists act with John Leo for the National Catholic Reporter, albeit that was shortly after the Donation of Constantine.

    He more than makes up for Barone going the other way…

  166. 166
    Cassidy says:

    Where your rosemary grows?

  167. 167
    IM says:


    Lynn Forester de Rothschild – spell it out – complaining about Obama being an elitist. Good days.

  168. 168
    Chris says:


    The one time I ever spoke to someone who’d been an interrogator (ex German military), the opinion I got was basically “it’s not that torture doesn’t work, it’s that it’s not necessary.” It’s mostly psychological and a decent interrogator can get the information he needs out of the subject without laying a hand on him. That opinion was confirmed for me when Dick Cheney tried to say “waterboarding KSM worked!” and the FBI interrogator who was actually in charge of the case came out and said “actually, everything we got out of KSM, we got before the waterboarding started and without the use of torture.”

  169. 169
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Nothing I have ever read by any professional interrogator – going back to accounts from people in intelligence in WWII through recent writings – supports the premise that torture is effective.

  170. 170
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jonas: Was Roger Simon the guy we mocked a few month ago for reporting that he had secretly followed Asian teenagers around an upscale shopping mall to uncover their nefarious foreign ways? Or am I confusing him with another roger.

  171. 171
    Chris says:


    Yeah, Nixon’s micromanaging style is pretty odd for a Republican president. Not that Republican cabinet members don’t micromanage – see Donald Rumsfeld – but the MO of Republican presidents is usually to sit back, take a hands-off approach and let the cabinet members do their thing. Equally true of moderates like Eisenhower and hard-liners like Reagan and Bush.

  172. 172
    maurinsky says:

    I think this kind of transformation can happen when one becomes too certain that they are correct in their beliefs and therefore defensive of them and intolerant of any new facts – basically, they lack resiliency and critical thinking skills.

  173. 173
    Mike in NC says:

    I believe Michael Lind was once a protege of William F. Buckley. By the 90s he jumped ship and one of his books was called “Up From Conservatism: Why The Right Is Wrong For America”.

  174. 174
    taylormattd says:

    @Patricia Kayden: He did not merely voice support for the Iraq war, in the same hesitant, mealy-mouthed way that folks like Josh Marshall or Ezra Klein did, because they believed the fake evidence and General Powell.

    He rabidly pushed the invasion for the purpose of destroying “Islamofacism”; he joined people like Andrew Sullivan in calling those opposed to the war near traitors; he went out for drinks with a person he called “my friend” Ahmed Chalabi, and constantly pushed that guy’s propaganda; he wrote article after article pushing literal lies about aluminum tubes, mobile weapons labs, and diversion of WMD into Syria.

    He later pushed for the invasion of Iran, and accused Michelle Obama of kissing the asses of African dictators. I’m sorry, but just because he hated religion doesn’t mean he didn’t turn into a wingnut. IMO, he was also a piece of shit.

  175. 175
    TG Chicago says:

    Personally, I’m a lot more interested in how folks like John Cole or Charles Johnson flipped the other way. Cuz I’d like to see a lot more of that.

  176. 176
    ruemara says:

    @Shinobi: Hey! Don’t rag on people with blood pressure medication combined with smartphones. We’re not all crazy.

  177. 177
    Narcissus says:

    For the set of political converts who suddenly convert in middle age or as aging men, I’d say small, nigh imperceptible strokes that alter the geography of the brain.

  178. 178
    shortstop says:

    @ruemara: Because you eschew the final ingredient in the fateful cocktail: Fox News!

  179. 179
    Chris says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Charles Johnson’s shtick was Islam-bashing specifically. If memory serves, his epiphany came when he went to some international conference for people like him and found himself neck-deep among European neo-Nazis – unrepentant Holocaust deniers, Jew-and-Gypsy-haters, the works. That apparently was a bridge too far for him, so he wrote about it and said something like “guys, we need to be a little more careful who we associate with, we don’t want to be seen with people like that.” And his fellow righties opened up on him with both barrels, accusing him of smearing good, honest and hard-working heroes in the fight against Islamo-fascism. At that point, he realized “these people are all fucking psychotic” and decided he’d been on the wrong side after all. The rest is history.

  180. 180
    Seanly says:

    I’m thinking of going full wingnut. I do a decent job with technical writing so I know I can put a few paragraphs together. I remember a bunch of the incoherent & rambling talking points my supposedly independent FIL makes. String those together and I could get myself a nice little slice of the seemingly endless wingnut welfare. If libertarians & such are going to do the Ayn Rand and gladly take the gubmints money then why can’t we have a few liberals take the conservatives money. I’d love to get paid to poop out nothing but idiocy all day.

    Unfortunately, I have a conscience so I don’t think this’ll be a route I take…

  181. 181
    Redshirt says:

    Am I the only person who got more liberal because of 9/11?

    That day I knew exactly what was going to happen, and lo! It all came to pass. Thank FSM the Repukes are incompetent to the core.

  182. 182
    Chris says:


    Being that it’s always projection with wingnuts, I think you could do pretty well for yourself simply by copy-pasting whatever you write on Balloon Juice, inverting the words “liberal” and “conservative” or “Democrat” and “Republican,” and sending that in to your local wingnut welfare outlets.

  183. 183
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    People tend to forget how old Shatner is because his toupees are only partially gray — he turns 81 years old this year. Plus he was very smart and demanded stock in Priceline when he first agreed to be their spokesperson, so he pretty much never has to worry about money again. I’m guessing he’s taking fewer parts because, well, he turns 81 years old this year, not because he’s not getting offers.

    I always assumed the problems between him and Takei were personality and professional clashes, not because Takei was gay, so Shatner would have no motive to bad-mouth him on the right-wing circuit. AFAIK, I’ve never heard Shatner say anything anti-gay.

    But overall, I’m guessing he didn’t go right-wing because he’s Canadian. What can I say, they’re just better people than we are. ;-)

  184. 184
    Paul in KY says:

    Alot of them in that boat seem to be Jewish & seem to have changed around 2nd Intifada/911.

  185. 185
    Darkrose says:

    There are worse earworms to have first thing in the morning than Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

  186. 186
    Xenos says:


    Mamet–like Mailer before him?–traded on a kind of bitter, bitchy, machismo that has fallen out of style. He didn’t mind championing some kinds of “outsiders” so long as the hierarchy of charity was preserved

    I am coming in quite late, as usual, to the conversation, but I have to stop and say that this is a really good comparison. Bith Mamet and Mailer had huge success when quite young, and resented the world tremendously for moving on.

  187. 187
    smintheus says:

    @Chris: Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush had another thing in common though: They didn’t have a clue about how the government worked and barely understood their own policies and programs. Oh, that and the press assiduously helped to keep the public unaware of how clueless their president really was. It’s easy to let others govern for you when you’re not really interested, able, or attuned to do so yourself.

  188. 188
    smintheus says:


    “it’s not that torture doesn’t work, it’s that it’s not necessary.”

    Nope. It’s that it’s illegal.

  189. 189
    Joel says:

    @Rey: Orwell turned anticommunist too, after the Spanish Civil War. Of course, he was still a socialist.

  190. 190
    Joel says:

    @Rey: Orwell turned anticommunist too, after the Spanish Civil War. Of course, he was still a socialist.

  191. 191
    Joel says:

    @Rey: Orwell turned anticommunist too, after the Spanish Civil War. Of course, he was still a socialist.

  192. 192
    Fred says:

    Am I the only person who finds this clever noun, “fee fees” kind of sadly grotesque? No doubt it’s all the cool thing with the kids but it is really embarrassing to read stuck in an otherwise good post.
    Sorry to get all unpleasant but this has just been going on too long, I think.

  193. 193
    Chris says:


    Yeah. I actually don’t find it at all unlikely that Reagan was telling the truth when he said he didn’t know anything about Iran-contra. Amiable dunce just wanted to let his staff run everything and otherwise leave him alone.

  194. 194
    MCA1 says:

    If there’s any reason this tends to be more of a male pattern conversion than female, my guess is that it’s because of generational timing. Most of the males making this transition from sane moderate or even liberal to raving nutjob resentment uberconservative were born or grew up in a world where white men were the entirety of the elite. They’re part of a demographic group that has consequently felt beseiged their entire adult lives by others horning in on that privilege, but so long as they were succeeding themselves, and it was just the middle class blue collar white guys all of the sudden having to compete with talent from outside their own demographic group, they could laugh off their fears of the Other and say there but for the grace. This may have even allowed them to go in for more traditionally liberal causes and positions, because they knew in their heart of hearts things like the expansion of social justice were the right thing, karmically speaking.

    Now, they’re older, and getting replaced by younger people in their public professions which typically require young faces and fresh ideas, anyway. And those younger people happen to be unignorably more diverse than them. So they think the demographic tide and the offspring of the social policies of the ’60’s and ’70’s, which they could afford to support in theory in the past because intellectually they knew it was right, and psychologically it wasn’t posing an actual threat to their place in the cosmos, has finally caught up to them. They mistake their anger at growing older and less adaptable and useful in their professions for resentment of the generation replacing them. All of the sudden, they see a pattern between their own experience and newfound irrelevance and the political sea change they’re experiencing. A two term, half-black President; an openly gay, female Senator; marriage equality movements; hip hop artists openly and effectively trashing the lily white POTUS they may or may not have voted for but could certainly relate to in their own underachieving upwards through a white male dominated world life course. And all of the sudden, they live through three or more decades of fear and loathing they should have had to make peace with back in their ’20’s. With the additional cherry on top of self-loathing from thinking their past, naive selves helped lay the traps in which they now find themselves ensnared.

    It is traumatic. And that trauma, emotional and mental, has great psychological effects, and consequently predictable swings in political stances.

    Not excusing it, but that’s my most generous hypothesis for why this seems to be happening a lot lately.

  195. 195
    priscianus jr says:

    Formerly liberal? When was Bob Woodward a liberal? Remind me.

    By the way, why do we keep talking about Woodward? Why don’t we talk about Carl Bernstein? He turned out a lot better.

  196. 196
    kim walker says:

    I think that when they go really winger,it’s because they have used up all their courage. They are just very, very irrationally afraid.

  197. 197
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Barry: Not left but liberal. Both are ardent defenders of women’s rights and are calling out racism (and how stupid it is), which definitely makes them liberals. They don’t couch these issues in conditionals, which is what conservatives do because of the whole authoritarianism (bow to religion)/defend the past (tradition!) thing.

    Basically, since moving into the center they’ve been exposed to other viewpoints and changed their minds in a fundamental way. They’ve also lost the fog of fear on a lot of issues. Fear is what drives a lot of conservative “thought”. You have some real crazies on the “left” but that is a fringe group. You also have a soi-disant left that is not nuts but is radical. They are also a pretty small constituency. But the liberal tent is pretty big. It’s not centrist, although it does occupy what used to be considered the center. There’s a party realignment that took many years to complete. Politics were different during the adjustment phase. That’s over now.

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