Affinities/Attributes: Chickenhawkery, dishonesty, contrived machismo, utter and spectacular wrongness.
Above: “As you can see here, Hussein’s Iraq is orbiting the forest moon of Endor…”
After having seen so many of these blow-dried, fratboy-type wingnuts on television, having seen their names in the bylines of hundreds of offensive, irrational columns, I wondered: Could any one of them really be as insanely awful as he seems at first glance? Could any of them really be that bad? I decided to find out.
Picking Rich Lowry, more or less at random, as my subject, I set to work analyzing his entire oeuvre. I believe the result not only demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Lowry is a particularly loathsome public figure, but also indicts the rancid ideology he represents. A twofer, if you will.
Richard Lowry is a wingnut pundit originally from Virginia and now based in New York. He has always been of the wingnut hivemind, though never quite so impressive a reactionary, contrary to what he’d like to think, as an “armed and dangerous one” (except, perhaps, when he’s frying turkey). If the Lowry ovum was conceived and nurtured by his vaguely conservative parents, then his pupa stage must have occurred at the University of Virginia, where he wrote for the Virginia Advocate, a college fishwrap along the lines of the infamous Dartmouth Review, and funded by the same sources: primarily, the Collegiate Network. Not yet ready to fly, his next stage of development was as go-fer of and apprentice to the insane psychiatrist-cum-columnist Charles Krauthammer, from whom he presumably learned the fine wingnut art of Strangelovean foreign policy advocacy. And from thence into ugly: After leaving Krauthammer’s service, Lowry went on to contribute to wingnut fink tanks and to write for rightwing propaganda mills like The Wall Street Journal, as well as the National Review, where he is currently an editor. Lowry has also come to pollute the airwaves, predictably at Fox News (where he is often a substitute for the reprehensible Sean Hannity) but also, disturbingly, at PBS and NPR.
Owing his career to the wingnut welfare system, Lowry remembers his debts and knows where he came from. As a child he was inspired by frog-jowled William F. Buckley, Jr.’s Firing Line; nowadays Lowry defends Buckley’s magazine’s business model. The protege of Dr. Kraphammer also dutifully cites his former master, and in the most laudatory terms. And he knows what it takes to stay in the good graces of Fox News.
Part of being a professional wingnut is looking like one, and here Lowry doesn’t disappoint:
I notice that Rich has paid a visit to Ye Olde Regnery Costume Shoppe and will be going out for Halloween dressed as A Historian. I guess all the Power Ranger suits were booked.
At 38, National Review Editor and Hannity stand-in Rich Lowry still looks like he’s wearing a retainer and has a trapper-keeper stuffed with Red Sonja comic books. The tragic irony of Michael J. Fox’s life is that his breakout role as Alex P. Keaton inspired a million resentful Reagan-blowing nerds like Lowry to recast themselves as “rebels” against gathering threats like universal health care—and stem cell research. If a goddamn toothpaste company told lies like Lowry they’d be prosecuted. Founding member of the “it’s all Clinton’s fault” school of Bush apologists.
Now that’s more like it. Lowry really does think of himself as a heroic rebel. Or, as Newsmax grandiosely quoted, “Lowry said he reveled in ‘swimming against the stream.’” But then like so many of his fellows — especially those in his approximate age group — in the wingnut cult of contrived masculinity, Lowry’s “kill ‘em all” rhetoric is belied by his wispy nerd appearance. Lowry presents himself and his political heroes as tough guys but slimes his opponents as girly-faggy-wimpy-appeasers.
If high school had been an ape colony, we [conservatives] would have been those antisocial unattached males lingering on the fringes, envying the dominant males with their mates.
Regardless, Rich Lowry loves war — by which I mean, the kind he doesn’t have to fight — not only for its own sweet sake and the psychological dividend it might pay, but also for the affect it has on domestic politics.
In pretty much all affairs he takes a wingnut position — even in sports where, predictably, he is a pathetic bandwagon-jumper. He’s a Yankees fan, which figures as they are evil and have the most money.
But the main thing to keep in mind about Rich Lowry is this: If Lowry says something is tall, it’s probably short; if he points out a purple monkey, it’s probably a green dinosaur; if he gives you directions to Albuquerque, odds are you’ll end up in Delaware. He’s also the kinda guy who pats the fender of his 1978 Ford Pinto saying, “This baby is the safest ride evar!1″ before pulling out in front of a speeding and overloaded eighteen-wheeler being driven by an ex-con who’s been living on meth fumes for the past week: You just know what’s gonna happen. If he tells you it’s certain that your team will win tonight, assume that they’ll lose — and pray that they don’t die in a bus crash. If Rich Lowry recommends that you order the turkey sandwich, by all means order the cheeseburger — there probably isn’t even a turkey sandwich on the menu, but if there is, it’s probably yeeky with salmonella and ptomaine.
It’s not just that he’s always wrong; it’s that he’s egregiously wrong. He’s wrong in a way that piles tinder and gasoline-soaked Roman candles around normal wingnut levels of error, and sets them roaringly on fire. And what makes him extra-special is that he is habitually proven wrong after making the most hubristic claims imaginable. He’s the Titanic of wrong, the embodiment of the traditional rural-American death-song (as sung over many beers and with M-80s and monster trucks at the ready): “Hey y’all, watch this!”
Although, self-pityingly, Lowry offered the following comment a few years back:
Mr. Lowry: There’s a deep tendency from the left to assume that if you’re conservative, there’s something wrong with you. Not just that you’re mistaken, the way conservatives think liberals are, but that there’s something actively evil about you. I experience this in my daily life here in New York at the most superficial level. I’ll meet people at parties and if I tell them what I do for a living, they look at me like I’ve just confessed to being an axe murderer.
Well, while Lowry’s not an ax murderer, there is something very wrong with him, a pundit who has worked hard to earn his place as a permanent figure of ridicule and contempt.
A wingnut just wouldn’t be a wingnut without a engaging in little Zhdanovian hackery. Here’s Comrade Rich to praise art that conforms to the views of the wingnut Politburo:
It’s refreshing to have a Vietnam movie without Jim Morrison on the soundtrack, and one that doesn’t run down the war as a hopeless, ignoble waste. The battle scenes are gripping. Watching the Huey helicopters do their thing is fascinating. And the movie includes the most positive depictions of prayer you’ll ever see from Hollywood. A sample from the Mel Gibson/Hal Moore character: “And, oh Lord? As for our enemy, please ignore their heathen prayers and let us blast those bastards all to hell.”
Da, Comrade, da! But remember, this is Commissar Rich Lowry, determined to light that explosive cigar he’s been chewing on. To wit:
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives’ gathering last month: “You have to check out ‘March of the Penguins.’ It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things – the dedication of these birds is just amazing.”
The National Review’s Rich Lowry has won the Stupidest Man Alive contest. [...] The “ideal” monogamy that Lowry praises is serial monogamy: the penguins change mates every year. That’s not “really ideal” monogamy… unless, of course, Newt Gingrich is the really ideal monogamist.
The mated pair also spends very little time with each other–one or the other is always out in the ocean catching fish. And the male appears to do at least half of the egg-care and child-care.
Anyway, for aesthetic Stalinists like Lowry, art matters only for its propaganda value. Art for art’s sake? Not so much. Bo-oring. But when he finds a piece of artful propaganda, that’s when he really comes alive; apropos SiCKO, he wrote that Michael Moore is “the Riefenstahl of socialism.” Now that’s the kinda kulturkrit the wingnut Politburo notices, cherishes, and rewards!
But all this is chickenfeed compared to the real fun that can be had through Zhdanovian hackery. Anything can be blamed on American culture, from plain old ennui to teenage pregnancy (it’s Britney Spears’s fault, of course), from school shootings (a result of liberal teachers’ penchant for grade inflation) to torture. Abu Ghraib provided Lowry with a ..well, a rich opportunity:
“[T]he distinct echoes of Abu Ghraib in our culture are unmistakable. “Consider the iconic film of the 1990s, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It includes a scene of the rape of a man imprisoned and kept as a sexual slave, which prompted laughs in theaters. The victim, ‘The Gimp,’ became a figure of fun. Tarantino’s latest, the Kill Bill movies, present the same romance of power and violence, arbitrarily and stylishly wielded. Cruelty, Tarantino tells us, can be fun.”
Way to be — umm, what’s the slippery word? Ahh — ‘counterintuitive’ there, Rich. I woud’ve thought that a conservative explanation would be more about original sin and human nature, about how everyone has the capacity to be sadistic, and under certain conditions, where the impulse is allowed and even encouraged, that tendency flowers. But no. That would be too honest (if highly debatable). Not wingnutty enough, not enough bad faith. I mean, where’s the liberal scapegoat in that scenario? So, blame the culture — mission, as they say, accomplished: Rush was impressed.
But enough about art. Let’s get to the other part of the culture war: the wingnut crusade against feminazis and homofags. As you might guess, Rich is heavily involved in that, too. He cares a great deal about it — so much that he whines when his Dear Leader doesn’t speak enough about it.
Lowry tried to frame the Catholic priest scandals as being about homosexuality rather than pedophilia, and the same for the Foley scandal. And as for women, well… He demands that they stop trying to take his (robust, irresistible) masculinity away. He will stand up to them! He doesn’t need them anyway. After all, the athletes among them — who seem to intimidate him a great deal — are a bunch of Maoists. In fact, they’re all just a bunch of (deep breath) Death-o-crats who disregard human life and love abortion but are ashamed of abortion because they know it’s so evil.
Now why does Lowry really care about this so much? Because flaming the culture war excites Dear Leader’s base. And according to Rich’s Magic Eightball:
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Social conservatives–holding strong [Rich Lowry]
Key bit from the Ron Brownstein write up of the LA Times polls today:
Breaking the GOP’s grip on socially conservative voters in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia will be especially challenging. In each of those states, the surveys found that despite extensive doubts about the country’s direction, the Republican candidates are amassing strong margins among rural voters and whites who regularly attend church…
Lowry was confident, so guess what happened!!!
It’s an article of faith among wingnuts that Bill Clinton is responsible for, like, everything bad EVAR. Everything! And anything good that has happened has been, of course, in spite of teh Clenis. Ever-willing to do his part for the movement, Rich Lowry wrote a book about Bill Clinton in which he claimed:
*Clinton didn’t grow the economy: his own economic record depends on lies.
*Clinton sold out U.S. national security to campaign contributors.
*Clinton stood in the way of real welfare reform before being forced by the Republicans to sign a reform bill.
*Attorney General Janet Reno was AWOL on domestic security.
*Clinton’s scandals were very real and he deserved impeachment.
*Clinton made sexual liberation the only cause for which he took career-endangering risks.
*Clinton’s unwillingness to use force emboldened America’s enemies.
*Clinton left the country vulnerable to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Anyway, the 9/11 allegation is something Lowry went on to belabor:
He says his first major book, “Legacy,” evolved as his reaction to 9/11.
As a journalist, he wanted to ferret out the roots of the disaster, and the more he worked the issue, the more he visualized those roots in terms of the preceding 8-year term of Bill Clinton.
“The policies [contributing to 9/11] had roots in the 1990s,” he says.
RICH LOWRY, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: Well, I have to disagree.
I don’t think we are using profiling. We didn’t use profiling in the Clinton administration. The Gore Commission came out against any meaningful profiling measures, which is one reason that four or five Arab young men from the Middle East were able to waltz on to airliners, no questions asked, on September 11.
KURTZ: All right. Now, you call Bill Clinton in your book a monstrous, world-shaking failure. But, despite that view — and you’re entitled to it, …
LOWRY: Thank you, Howard.
KURTZ: … he remained pretty popular with the American people, …
LOWRY: He did.
KURTZ: … even after being impeached.
LOWRY: Let me explain that. The monstrous, world-shaking failure was leaving the country vulnerable to 9/11.
[Kathryn Jean] Lopez: …Rich, you write, “On September 11, Clinton’s most important legacy arrived in horrifying form, and settled in a pile of rubble seven stories high in downtown Manhattan.” Is that fair to blame Bill Clinton for 9/11?
Lowry: Well, obviously, Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. But the September 11th attacks were clearly Clinton’s most consequential legacy. The way he had hamstrung the CIA, handcuffed the FBI, neglected airport security, and, most importantly, left a nest of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan unmolested — knowing, knowing they were there — created the ticking time bomb that went off on September 11th. Should Bush have done more during the eight months he was in office? Absolutely. But much of his work would have been — and has been — undoing the mistakes of the Clinton administration.
“Mistakes” like not saying ‘kill’ enough in public:
LOWRY: Well, this is — this goes to crucial point here is that Clinton always treated terrorism as a domestic issue, as a criminal issue, instead of a foreign policy issue.
And you know, he commissioned a poll after the Khobar Tower bombings. Dick Morris went into his office and says, look, president, there’d be overwhelming support if you declare a war a terrorism. He didn’t do it. And the reason why is because Clinton and liberals have a temperamental disinclination to wield American power abroad. The great thing about…
LOWRY: … Bush and Rumsfeld is they have no compunction about killing our enemies.
EPSTEIN: With due respect. With due respect. With due respect to each of you, Clinton authorized the killing of bin Laden on four separate occasions, and neither of the two of you can distinguish the pre-9-11 Bush policy with respect to bin Laden and the Taliban from the Clinton policy. So I think it’s an intellectually dishonest argument.
LOWRY: Julian, if you do a…
LOWRY: If you do a Nexus search of Bill Cohen and the word “kill” within 10 words, it doesn’t show up. Here’s a defense secretary, waged a war a Kosovo — never used the word. And Bush and Rumsfeld like…
Right. For Lowry, it all boils down to Clinton being too pussified. Clinton, you see, should not just have used Chickenhawk rhetoric but also Chickenhawk action. Alas, he just wasn’t heroic enough to send Americans to their deaths when it wasn’t necessary:
LOWRY: Well, Morris`s theory is that Clinton was afraid if he ordered U.S. troops into any action where they were killed, he would get viciously criticized as, Look, you`re this draft dodger who is sending our boys into these sort of missions that you weren`t willing to undertake yourself. And that accounted for his caution. I don`t know whether that — that`s sort of a psychological theory. I`m not sure whether that`s right or not. But it certainly, operationally, something like that was going on because all of Clinton`s wars were engaged mostly from 15,000 feet, with the premise that there should never be any American casualties.
And I said all these wars were fought mostly from 15,000 feet. His other great tool in war was cruise missiles, which also very risk-free. So they targeted the Iraqi intelligence service building, they made sure it was empty in the middle of the night so no one would be hurt, and then they launched these cruise missiles at it. This is just a stunningly flaccid response to a foreign government targeting a former U.S. president, but a very much characterized the Clinton approach, which on all of these military matters and on the war on terror was just laughably weak.
KURTZ: Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, which has urged the use of ground troops, said: “Even if Clinton wins a decent deal from Milosevic, he’s not going to go down as our Churchill or Eisenhower. It’s been a creepy and cowardly war…”
LOWRY: It was foreign policy as social work. And, you know, they thought it mattered a lot who was cutting down trees in Ecuador and, you know, what child welfare policy was in various places across the world. And what they could not do was identify the enemies of the United States like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and go after them aggressively, because that`s fundamentally what they didn`t like to do temperamentally. They preferred the social work and the goo.
It all apparently stems from the fact that Clinton was a lying liar –
LOWRY: Yeah. Well, at the risk of sounding a little moralistic here, I think there is a pattern of behavior to philanderers, and they are extremely selfish and they are in some sense living a lie and betraying their family. And so it comes very easy to them to lie themselves or to urge other people to lie, as we saw in the Clinton case[.]
CORN: Has Bush never told a lie?
LOWRY: Not in the true sense of deliberately telling …
LOWRY: … something’s that untrue.
No, really, there’s, like, a Bushite truth culture or something:
LOWRY: [... Y]ou know, Bushies told me during the Florida controversy, looking back at that, that something that was extremely reassuring was when James Baker went down there, the first thing he said is, We’re not going to say anything that’s untrue. We’re going to check it three times. Now, you can argue about the extent to which they adhered to that, but that ethic is extremely important.
If Clinton didn’t exist, wingnuts would have to invent him; he’s their ultimate scapegoat as well as the ultimate crutch for all Bush’s depravities. “But Clinton did it” is a vintage whine among so many cheesy wingnuts; thus Lowry’s litany of self-refuting and apples-to-oranges excuses: WMD claims? But Clinton did it!, Secret wiretapping? But Clinton did it! Standing by as an ally blows up civilians? But Clinton did it! Pardons? But Clinton did it!
How on earth, then, did Clinton get elected twice, being such an obvious rat? Well, it was luck of course:
“It was Clinton’s good fortune to run for re-election in a generally satisfied country,” write Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry, and Kate O’Beirne in the National Review.
LOWRY: [...] And, John, I think perhaps a mistake you’re making is kind of looking at the coverage of Clinton retroactively. You know, during most of the Clinton administration, most of the Clinton scandals, the main media spin we had out of those scandals was that Dan Burton is a dangerous nut.
Geez, what a whiny pathetic hack: Lowry lied about Bush’s budget… lied about John Kerry’s job numbers… cited Zell Miller’s speech at RNC ’04 to accuse the Democratic Party of having anger issues… tried to deprecate the Downing Street Memo by asserting to the effect that the verb “fixed” in British usage did not connote bad faith… defended the likes of Jerome Corsi shamefully late in the day even for a wingnut… wrote pathetic mini-hagiographies of G.W. Bush and Hinderakerishly praised even more pathetic book-length ones… fibbed about John Bolton’s distortion of intelligence findings, averred that Democrats’ concerns with Bolton’s temper were “entirely opportunistic”; meanwhile, he praised Bolton as a “multilateralist” and argued vehemently that Bolton was no neoconservative… told little lies here, repeated little lies there… suddenly started to care about prisoner abuse — even allowing that the Bush Justice Department was thwarting remedies to the problem — then blamed liberals for making prison life too comfy… alleged that the media “smeared” Rush Limbaugh because it was reported that the Dirigible of Darvocet had been arrested on drug charges… bemoaned the state of America’s mentally ill without once mentioning that it was Ronald Reagan’s policies that put them on the streets (Reagan, second only to Lincoln among great presidents)… tried to smear Richard Clarke… accused the media of basically lying in reporting that many evangelicals dislike Mormons… argued that John “Death Squads” Negroponte was victim of a smear campaign… recirculated the tired old charge that Democrats have no new ideas; but when Bush’s bold “new” ideas proved unpopular, he offered new “new” Republican ideas to Rove and Bush that he even admitted were “thin”… praised the building of the Hoover Dam only to condemn Big Government for the current lack of similar projects… unsurprisingly characterized Kerry as “arrogant,” Gore as a bruiser and Bush as “the Zen candidate”… accused Gore of holding a “deep anger“, but stated the hope that Richard Cheney would be “a little more harsh” — meanwhile, Lowry defended poor Dick Cheney against nefarious liberal strawman-builders who had “‘made [him] a figure of hate’ and ‘[have been beating] the stuffing out of him for three years’” (Lowry conveniently forgot to mention that he had slagged Ol’ Shoot-Em-In-The-Face back when Bush was considering potential running mates)… when Ted Turner stated the awful sentiment: “Just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean you’re not a patriot as far as I’m concerned,” Lowry righteously riposted, “His politics are just loathsome….He captures a lot of the attitude in the rest of the mainstream media.”… tried to spin Bush’s abysmally low approval numbers by arguing that Americans are just negative people… demanded that Bush hire hacks for serious positions — to counter the credibility problem created by Bush putting hacks in serious positions… after fumbling a bit in criticizing Congress, then trying to pin congressional bad habits on only the Democrats, finally blasted the whole institution (when, of course, the corruption was almost wholly Republican in origin)…
As you might expect, Lowry’s terrible on environmental issues. He scoffs at scientific sources like Physics Today, but cites discredited Lysenkoists like Peter Schweizer. (Indeed, as editor of National Review, Lowry publishes such full-time Lysenkoist nimrods as Iain Murray and Jason Steorts.) For Lowry, environmentalists amount to a fifth column: the “Save the Whales” people are actually useful idiots for Our Enemies, meanwhile the Live Earth concert was merely a vehicle for the former Cat Stevens’s Islamofascism. But then on the environment as on every other subject, Lowry is capable of breathtaking stupidity:
Lowry used discussion of a decision by an Alaskan village to reject free oil from Venezuela as an opportunity to urge drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. That came after he said Alaska had been “over-romanticized,” that much of the state was desolate territory rather than beautiful, and that tribal villages in Alaska are socialist enclaves and that’s why they’re poor.
Which is bad enough. Then there’s this, which needs to be appreciated in its entirety.
According to Rich Lowry, Joseph Wilson is “a partisan hack who has been completely discredited,” not an expert on Niger, and a liar. Lowry also alleged that the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity as CIA agent wasn’t payback by the Administration for Wilson’s op-ed. Except Lowry also said that it was payback:
Lowry thought that if Joe Wilson was concerned about his wife, he shouldn’t have written an Op Ed in the New York Times. When Hennican mentioned that the outing was a payback, Lowry defended that tactic saying, “Who wrote the rule that Joe Wilson gets to attack the Bush Administration?”
Right, but then this is the same Rich Lowry who boldly insisted that Valerie Plame was “not covert.” Which is fine and dandy except for the fact that she was covert. Lowry later admitted that his conclusion was perhaps “too categorical.” Remember that Rich is the Titanic of wrong.
Funny that: Lowry otherwise has a Nixonian attitude to leaks. For Lowry, what’s ok if you are a Republican who wants to smear and silence a truth-telling former ambassador is treason if you’re the New York Times and you want to let the public know what Big Brother’s up to.
Okay, now fast-forward to the Libby trial-sentence-commutation: D’oh:
National Review editor Rich Lowry on Bill Clinton’s perjury:
Let’s concede that sexual harassment law is too broad and that the Jones suit was quite weak, that ideally there shouldn’t have been an independent counsel waiting to pounce on Clinton’s crimes, that a pair of conservative lawyers gave legal advice to the Jones team with the ulterior purpose of harming the president, and that Linda Tripp wasn’t very nice to Monica Lewinsky or very honest — that still leaves the fact that Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, had sex with an intern, perjured himself about it, suborned the perjury of someone else, and obstructed justice. What were House Republicans supposed to do with these alleged high crimes and misdemeanors of the president? Ignore them?
Rich Lowry on Scooter Libby’s perjury:
Fitzgerald’s evidence against Libby was all he said/he said. In these circumstances, a judicious prosecutor would have committed an act of forbearance, and even moral courage: He would have let it go. Fitzgerald couldn’t resist the temptation of every Washington special prosecutor, which is never to close up shop without at least one obstruction-of-justice indictment.
But wait. Double standards, you say (and not unusual, considering the source)? Actually worse than that, you say, because lying in a civil suit about sex is nothing compared to lying to a grand jury about ‘outing’ a covert agent? Well, forget it because Lowry maintains that he’s the consistent one, and certainly more fair than some fucking jury of peons.
A Rich Tradition of Racism
National Review has a long tradition of burning journalistic crosses in America’s yard, of taking the racist line on any subject, of brusquely opposing the civil rights movement. Of course this sort of thing can’t be done as openly as it was in the past, but occasionally through the code and euphemism the true nature of the magazine’s sentiment can still be discerned. Rich Lowry’s speech and writing continues this grand old tradition:
LOWRY: [...] As far as Cynthia McKinney is concerned, she represents, I think, we should all hope, the past in black politics, this kind of a paranoid, confrontational, irrational, civil-rights model[...]
MALVEAUX: The civil-rights model is paranoid?
Sharpton and Jackson are dueling over who will be the nation’s best-paid race hustler, a lucrative occupation.
(Indeed, Lowry finds it “appalling…that Sharpton is now accepted in polite company.”)
RICH LOWRY: [...] Barack Obama is very interesting. He really has a visceral tendency not to want to tell people what they want to hear, not to go for the cheap applause lines, and he was…
JUDY WOODRUFF: African-American audience, it’s Howard University.
RICH LOWRY: Yes, he was the only one last night going out of his way to say, “No, you know, all these government programs aren’t necessarily the answer unless you have more responsibility on the part of individuals and communities.”
Also, Lowry finds Obama useful for calling liberal economic populists racist.
When Tennessee Republicans hit Harold Ford, Jr. (whom Lowry had pretended to praise in the service of slagging McKinney) with a race-baiting TV ad, Lowry was predictably ecstatic, calling it a “bull’s eye”.
Lowry’s always there as defender of the faith when one of his prominent fellow Republicans says something disgustingly racist and is busted for it. Like, say, Bill Bennett:
Channelling Hannity, Lowry demanded that Brown answer the ridiculous question, “Do you personally think it is wrong to abort black babies? …Does it outrage you that 10 million black babies have been aborted in the last, say, 30 years? …Does it bother you that so many black babies have been aborted?”
Brown asked why this was made a race issue.
Lowry, laughing derisively said, “Because, Michael, it’s been made a race issue because these people are smearing Bill Bennett as a racist. Come on!”
Lowry said, “If you guys really don’t want conversations to be racialized in this country, you should tell it to the leadership of the Democratic Party and the civil rights establishment.”
Or Rush Limbaugh.
Lowry laments that no one bothers attacking former racists who have categorically repudiated their past:
Lowry went on to complain that “you cannot get the media exercised about Robert Byrd’s Klan past.”
But, as you might expect, when it comes to unrepentant racists and those who praise them, Lowry… well, let’s just say his position is complicated. Lowry wrote a “pox on both their houses” sort of editoral (which even Charles Krauthammer thought indecent) on the Trent Lott controversy, giving as much or more hell to those offended by Lott’s remarks as to Lott himself. As Lott was being shown the door, Lowry whined that consistency required Tom Daschle go, too. Then Lowry, in the hope that if the Majority Leader was to be deposed, it would be done quietly, assailed Lott’s stalling tactics. He also deplored the fact that some in the Senate were telling the truth:
And, memo to Senate GOPers—It’s not very helpful to “defend” Lott by saying that this isn’t a problem specific to him, but to the Republican party generally.
And why shouldn’t they? After all, the GOP and its hacks in the media like Lowry didn’t roll Lott over so quickly for saying things they themselves believe. No, Lott was allowed to be shitcanned without much of a fight because they were afraid he’d try to prove he wasn’t racist:
[E]very day for a long time that Lott continues to be majority leader will be just such a rolling surrender to the NAACP and other grievance groups.
And worse, Lott might try to show that his potential replacements were just as racist as he. For Republicans like Lowry, the problem wasn’t that Lott was a racist (again, how could it be?); no, the problem was that Lott wasn’t wingnutty enough!:
Rich Lowry wrote that Lott’s leadership was “a reprise of the days of Bob Dole, when a legislative tactician with a taste for deal-making and cool relations with the GOP’s grass-roots muddled from one compromise to the next.”
As with so many wingnuts, Hurricane Katrina truly swept away whatever existed of Lowry’s veneer of decency, leaving exposed his racist foundations for all to see. Now Lowry never much cared for New Orleans, considering it a lurid den of iniquity in which Democrats and Negroes conspired to steal elections from virtuous Republicans (not that New Orleans the city and Louisiana the state aren’t full of corruption, but Lowry’s slanted piece is the journalistic equivalent of taking a dump on the Vieux Carre’ in broad daylight). Then Katrina hit, and the carnage and suffering it wrought proved to be a laff-riot subject for Lowry’s colleague Jonah Goldberg:
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS
I think it’s time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you’re working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he’s not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It’s never too soon to be prepared.
Even some conservatives were appalled and said so.
Professor Stephen Bainbridge, a conservative law professor at UCLA and a blogger of note, took Goldberg to task for this particularly heartless comedy routine: Goldberg, however, refused to apologize[.]
But Pantload decided the next day that, yeah, his jokes were tasteless and cruel. Ahh, but Rich Lowry would have none of that pussified apology shit, not on his watch:
Personally, I thought the Jonah Superdome riff was funny[.]
Sure. And Lowry’s support must have slapped Pantload out of his half-assed contrition, because he then went on to ventilate an emailer’s opinion on blacks’ ability to swim. Meanwhile, Lowry tried to blame the whole disaster on Democrats. Then he had the gall to say:
It is getting ugly. Not just in New Orleans, but in the debate over it. Take our poisonous partisan divide, add the finger-pointing that takes place after any calamity, then mix in noxious racial politics, and you have the formula for the coming Battle over New Orleans.
But, of course, Lowry was determined to make it uglier:
There’s some wistfulness for law and order over at the Corner today, with Rich Lowry pining for the manly intervention of Mississippi guv Haley Barbour: “Talking about any possible looters in Mississippi, the governor said (I’m quoting from memory) that they would be dealt with ‘ruthlessly,’ that they are ‘sub-human,’ and that they would get ‘a lesson they wouldn’t soon forget.’” The fact that most of the looters are black is just a coincidence, we’re sure.
PETERSON: The root cause of crime is a lack of moral character. You know, we saw a good example of that in the New Orleans situation in the inner cities. I’ve done a lot of work in the inner cities, and I have to tell you that crime and out-of-wedlock birth, black folks having babies without being married, and stuff like that is out of control. And it’s not because they lack material things but because not all, not all, not all –
RICH LOWRY (guest co-host and National Review editor): Right.
PETERSON: — but most of them lack moral character. Look what they did to the Dome. In three days they turned the Dome into a ghetto.
With victims cast as less than human, some commentators proposed shocking actions. “I hope the looters are shot,” Peggy Noonan pronounced on the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com (9/1/05). On the Situation with Tucker Carlson (9/15/05), Carlson remarked, “Maybe [the National Guard] should have shot people but they didn’t.” Sitting in for Sean Hannity on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes (9/9/05), Rich Lowry asked author Simon Winchester about the “shoot to kill order” in the 1906 California Earthquake. After “about an hour,” Winchester related, the looting “stopped.” “Doesn’t surprise me,” Lowry returned, adding that “it seems as though no one was really waiting for bureaucratic approval or worrying about the legalities or . . . possible lawsuit[s].”
For Lowry, what conservatives ought to do about the “Battle over New Orleans” was two-fold. First, oppose the supremely evil rhetoric of blacks who felt abandoned and betrayed, and who had the temerity to view such responses to Katrina as Lowry’s, racist (how dare they):
when substitute co-host Rich Lowry took his turn, he wasted no time trying to discredit the elder Bond and paint him as a radical, black racist. Lowry said, “Let me hone in on the word ‘lynching’ because I think this is important. The word ‘lynching’ means a racially motivated, deliberate act of murder. And that is not what Katrina was… Tens of billions are being poured down there to try to rebuild those devastated areas. This isn’t like a lynching at all.”
Michael Bond agreed that the hurricane, itself, was not a lynching but, he added, “the languishing of the people of New Orleans and in that region are experiencing with a slow and almost – I mean, just the lack of an earnest response from this government is appalling and to characterize it as a lynching or whether or not it’s a slow torture on the rack is perhaps more accurate. That’s what these people are feeling… In the greatest country in the world, this shouldn’t be the case.”
Rather than debate the issue of the federal response, Lowry took another stab at smearing African Americans while trying to play gotcha with Bond. “Let me push you on this because I think you’re really using this word loosely,” Lowry said. “Last year, about 130 black men were murdered (by other blacks) in New Orleans. Would you call that a lynching?”
The plan now seems to be to go back to blaming the local Democratic officials, like Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, and if that doesn’t work, spread the blame so widely that only a little of it butters George Bush.
But this frustrates some of the true believers who just can’t bear to let the poor off the hook. The ever-ingenious Rich Lowry of the National Review has found a way to blame the poor indirectly. He blames Liberal social programs for keeping the poor poor[:]
New Orleans was partly a catastrophe of the welfare state, which has subsidized inner cities with countless billions of dollars throughout the past 30 years, with little to show for it except more social breakdown.
[...]Now, of course, the implication of this argument is that if you can’t guarantee a Utopia then you should not bother to even try to fix any problems. Another way of saying it is that if you can’t save everybody, you might as well let everybody drown, which was apparently the thinking behind locking the doors to steerage aboard the Titanic.
The real story is the failure of the civil-rights movement to create a new generation of leaders willing to address today’s threats to urban America.
Cities beset by broken families, rage-killings and corrupt, ineffectual governance suffer a mini-Katrina every day. Yet where are the uncompromising calls for the restoration of the black family and a new wave of vigorous, reformist urban government? Asked on “Fox News Sunday” what his solutions are to the problems of black America, the Rev. Lowery emphasized 30-year-old bromides. “Let’s have more [government] programs,” he suggested lamely.
National Review editor Rich Lowry opined (National Review Online, 9/2/05) that “the breakdown of the family” was what left people poor and vulnerable in the aftermath of Katrina, suggesting “a grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the left in exchange for the right’s support for more urban spending.” (Lowry did not suggest that spending money on urban problems would actually be desirable, but argued that “anything is worth addressing the problem of fatherlessness.”)
What a perfect moment to change the subject and blame poor African-American women for causing the poverty the world witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina. Without skipping a beat, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, proclaimed that the “The root of it [the poverty exposed by Katrina] is the breakdown of the family. Roughly 60 percent of births in New Orleans are out of wedlock.” Lowry then went on to propose a “grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the left in exchange for the right’s support for more urban spending…”
Clueless liberals quickly accepted Lowry’s clever reframing of the problem. Nicholas Kristof embraced it as an “excellent suggestion” in his New York Times column.
Others saw through Lowry’s offer more clearly than did the dreadful Kristof:
For all our talk about single-parent families–the reason for the terrible poverty of black New Orleans, if we are to believe right-wing columnists Rich Lowry and David Brooks–we act to bring about more of them, and of the most vulnerable, makeshift kind. Somehow single motherhood is supposed to be the fault of the left, but it’s the right that has cut public funding for contraception, held up Plan B, restricted abortion, flooded the schools with useless abstinence-only sex ed and now even threatens to bar confidentiality to girls seeking birth control.
At any rate, Lowry eventually proclaimed a “winner” of Katrina: John McCain. Yeah, whatever.
Anyway, for Lowry what goes for blacks also goes, in its own way, for Latinos (whose crimes — aside voting for Democrats — include “ominous” demonstrations which make Dear Leader look feeble) and Native Americans, whom Lowry characterizes as “rotten”. No, really:
HELP-CORRUPT AND CORRUPTING INDIANS [Rich Lowry]
I’m going to try to do a column on what a rotten influence Indians are in our politics, pegged to California. If you have suggestions for stuff to read or people to talk to, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Thanks!
Gavin adds: I’m'unna step in and segment the post into three parts. Like e.e. cummings’s Olaf, it’s extremely glad and big.
[Next in the series: Richie Rich, Teh Class Warrior.]
Mencken continues: If you liked this part of the piece, consider the work that went into it. My electricity is going to be cut off on Monday if I don’t pay up, due to the vagaries and seasonality of teh farming lifestyle. Your donation of a couple bucks would be wildly appreciated and very illuminating!