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Tilting at Windmills

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December 1, 2009

CHARLES JOHNSON GIVES UP ON THE RIGHT.... Way back in April, we talked about Charles Johnson, of "Little Green Footballs" fame, and his growing discomfort with what's become of the right in contemporary politics. I wrote at the time, "After having read Little Green Footballs over the years, I didn't expect it to be one of the sites urging conservatives to pull back from the fringes and be more responsible. It's a pleasant surprise. Here's hoping others follow Charles Johnson's lead."

More than six months later, we see that this obviously hasn't happened. And late yesterday, Johnson, at one point one of the highest profile conservative bloggers in the country, announced that he's "parting ways" with the right.

He put together a list of developments that Johnson believes pushed him away, including support for bigotry, opposition to women's rights, hostility towards science, homophobia, embrace of "anti-government lunacy," and "support for conspiracy theories and hate speech."

And much, much more. The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won't be going over the cliff with them.

Johnson didn't elaborate about where he now feels comfortable -- in other words, it's unclear if he's just giving up on the right or actually becoming a full-fledged progressive -- but given his role in helping lead the conservative blogosphere for years, his departure is a rather striking development.

One can hope his announcement will encourage others to come to their senses, but based on the initial reaction to Johnson's post, the right does not appear to be in a self-reflective mood.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Funny. All of the things he points out (especially the examples he provides) have been true for as long as his blog has been a leading conservative blog. In any case, good on him for finally coming to his senses.

Posted by: Kris on December 1, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I assume he's welcome here, in the (sometimes) Land of Reason. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 1, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK
in other words, it's unclear if he's just giving up on the right or actually becoming a full-fledged progressive

We need to recognize that many conservatives are disgusted with the right wingers, and this doesn't somehow make them non-conservative.

Posted by: Boronx on December 1, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx, you have to believe in all the bullshit rejected by Johnson in order to be considered conservative these days.

Posted by: David W. on December 1, 2009 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Well, LGF seemed to me to be the quintessential one note warblog. Military and foreign policy issues may have dominated issues there for a long time, but I would guess Johnson probably wasn't comfortable on toeing the right wing line on anything outside of those areas.

Posted by: Amanda in the South Bay on December 1, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

The right has been peddling all that poison for years, but something happened last year: Obama and Palin. The first African American to be nominated for and win the presidency and a toxic new political figure who relished stoking fears and hatred. And that combination began attracting an ugly element out in the open. Look at the tea baggers and the birthers with their vile racist signs and open display of firearms.I think the reality of just who is being attracted to the current incarnation of the conservative movement and Republican Party is becoming clear to few ppeople and they don't want to be associated with that.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 1, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I for one welcome Johnson and others who feel the same way.

I'd take honest dialogue and ideological differences based on rationality and reality over knee-jerk, irrational, and unreal differences premised on the need to counter all things liberal or progressive any day. In other words, sanity.

Posted by: terraformer on December 1, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

He obviously stopped drinking the Purple Kool-Aid.

Withdrawal can be a bitch.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 1, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we officially say it's a sad day when Johnson is considered "moderate?" When the GOP has out flanked LGF, it has to mean they are truly extremists.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on December 1, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

That's nice, it only took 8 years of insane ruling and 1 year of anti-ruling for him to get it. So what ?? I doubt he will be helping re-elect Obama, so who cares if an idiot found a moment of clarity.

He, or rather LGFs has done more damage then it could possibly repair in 10 lifetimes. He, or rather LGF's were one of the platforms of lies and deceit that jump started the current Tea Party movement. The beast he helped create has gotten out of control and he walks away without so much as a sorry.

I'd rather see him on the bottom of the cliff with the rest of them taking some sort of responsibility for the nightmare they helped create and continue to prolong.

But like any conservative, all he can do is point fingers because he could not have had anything to do with conservatism failing so profoundly, that was the other guys.

Posted by: ScottW on December 1, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Let's keep a sense of perspective here. The right-wing in this country has not been able to win elections on actual policy issues for over 40 years. The only way they can win elections is to LIE about their positions, or spin them so fast that you can't really tell where they come down--if you're an average voter--the republican party has been doing this for many, many years. If you go back to Reagan, and Nixon, you find that they simply lied about where they stood, or, more insidiously, they would misrepresent the meaning of their actual positions.

I think with Reagan, in many cases, he didn't actually understand the difference between those two things, but nevermind.

My point is that ever since the New Deal, and, much more, since the passage of civil-rights legislation, the Republican Party has been the party of fascist liars. Ever since Nixon and Mitchell unleashed the full Southern Strategy. And, really, probably since Eisenhower's M/I complex speech.

You can't have an "honest, sane discussion of the issues" with a member of the GOP. You've not been able to do that for at least 30 years that I know of. They know only how to lie. Or, when they're not lying, they are so completely ignorant of the implications of their own actual positions, they can't talk rationally about those either.

The GOP has virtually ruined this country in more ways than anyone can count...in any democracy, the Right will eventually have to start lying and destroying, because, generally, the Right consists of a bunch of authoritarian corporatists manipulating a bunch of racist, xenophobic yahoos who will alway be a minority in any advanced nation. The only way this kind of right-wing can win anything is to lie.

Posted by: LL on December 1, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

This clearly is about finding common ground and forging a new American dialog devoid of shit slinging. Good on Charles Johnson.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on December 1, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't get too excited about LGF or its followers becomming progressives. They remain strong on national security and the state of Israel (no matter what). They are fiscally conservative (it's a shame that no one there seems to be able to understand that for the last 30 years, the dems have been more fiscally responsible than the GOP...and would someone PLEASE tell them that St. Reagan raised the national debt to the highest level in history until GWB joined that trend AND he raised taxes!) and for the most part do not care much for Obama. Some of the readers there are as rabidly anti-Obama as on the far right wing blogs.

They are split on healthcare (with one reader actually saying:

I have zero faith in the government to undertake major non-security issues. I'd rather take my chances with the private sector, which at least is more efficient and self interested. If it ends up that I cannot obtain care I need to survive because the money for cannot be found, then >I'm OK with dying, because I'd rather be dead than under the government's thumb.

Stunning.

I will say that there are some very smart people over there. But alas, some buy into too much bullshit (Community Reinvestment Act, and other shit that just isn't true.)

I welcome Charles saying that the right has lost it. That took some balls on his part. He is honest and I applaud that! But he, and his group, are not going to become progressive any time soon.

Posted by: MsJoanne on December 1, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

But he, and his group, are not going to become progressive any time soon.

No worries. I'd gladly settle for sane and capable of considering the truth or falsity of arguments.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on December 1, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'd take honest dialogue and ideological differences based on rationality and reality over knee-jerk, irrational, and unreal differences premised on the need to counter all things liberal or progressive any day. In other words, sanity.

My blog is frequently visited by the Unreligious Right, a conservative atheist. While I never agree with his politics, he argues from sanity and reason, and I find that quite refreshing in this day and age. And then sad, because that's how all interactions with differing ideologies should be.

Posted by: Personal Failure on December 1, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

In the early days, Charles Johnson was middle-left, to the extent that he was political at all. And by "early days", I mean... pre 9/11 (before most of us even knew what a blog was).

While not a 9/11 "victim" as we know it, Johnson essentially got terrorized that day, and that started his long descent into the abyss of rightwing anti-islamic extremism. Nice to see that he has recovered. Even if he isn't a progressive (or even a moderate) now, it's nice to see that the effects have that day have worn off, and he's slowly come back to the road of reasonable political thought.

Posted by: K Ashford on December 1, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

One of the defining characteristics of the right is their utter lack of introspection. In fact, having the ability to reflect upon themselves and the context in which they operate would logically cause them to realize how profoundly hypocritical they are. As such, there is no event that can cause them to "wake up" and realize how detached from reality they are. This fact is, in fact, a feature to them, not a bug.

Posted by: Rob Marine on December 1, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean that Charles is again stuck in a pre-9/11 mindset?

Posted by: Bobo Teh Clown on December 1, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, is Johnson gonna be pissed when we put him into one of BHO's FEMA re-education camps.

Posted by: jimmy on December 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

As much as I welcome the saneness of Charles Johnson, we need a sane opposition party much, much more.

Perhaps it has to start somewhere but with the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Palin running rampant and leading the GOP, sanity is going to be a long time coming.

Posted by: MsJoanne on December 1, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Fiscal / political conservatives who are moderate to progressive on social issues ... I can live with people like that. We may not agree on some issues but by and large people like that tend to be reality-based.

Posted by: lux on December 1, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

K Ashford: In the early days, Charles Johnson was middle-left...

Yup, that's my recollection as well. Nice to see he's woken out of his coma.

Posted by: leo on December 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

just got back from checking out the comments on Ben Smith's blog on Politico. G-o-o-o-d lordy are the right wingers a bunch of illiterate morons. Proving exactly what Johnson says, and without any trace of irony - and that's above and beyond the usual hilarious adolescent posturing and mangled English.

Posted by: DH Walker on December 1, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, is Johnson gonna be pissed when we put him into one of BHO's FEMA re-education camps.

Isn't the obvious explanation that this has already happened to him? What else could possibly explain his rejection of the proudly aggressive stupidity of the right? Nothing, nothing I tell you!

Posted by: DH Walker on December 1, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

One word: Splintering

I just can't eat another bite of popcorn.

Posted by: Kevin on December 1, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Johnson's a neoconservative hawk. And neocons were originally just Cold War liberals from Schlesinger's "vital center" who couldn't stomach the McGovern wing of the Democrats.

So I'm not sure why this should be surprising.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on December 2, 2009 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad to welcome Johnson back, but remember, he was a liberal before he was a conservative. I'd say 9/11 drove him crazy for 8 years and he has come back to his 9/10 self.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on December 3, 2009 at 6:00 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone here who thinks he's changed clearly has no idea how someone can be a foreign policy hawk AND hate the religious right at the same time.

Tons of people do it. He didn't go anywhere, he holds the same opinions he does from 8 years ago. You guys are jsut delusional

Posted by: Floski on December 3, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK
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