Political Animal


March 05, 2012 3:05 PM The Andrew Breitbart Seance

By Ed Kilgore

I didn’t post about the death of Andrew Breitbart, or the post-death-of-Andrew-Breibart blogospheric flame war, for a number of reasons. Yes, perhaps because I am a fogie, or perhaps because I am a Christian, I do tend to find the immediate heaping of hot coals on the cooling body of the recently deceased distasteful. And yes, I’m generally leery of making definitive moral judgments—the kind that are so often made in obituaries, positive or negative—about total strangers. Truth be told, the things about Breitbart’s highly dubious contributions to journalism, if you want to call it that, which outraged his enemies and thrilled his friends all struck me as stuff that was pretty much ephemeral.

But the case for letting Breitbart rest in peace would be stronger if he had left the rest of us in peace in exchange. Instead, from the grave, he is still trying to make headlines, and succeeding at least with his brethren on the Breathless Right. His apparently-long-in-the-planning new website, which seems merely to combine his old websites, is now featuring the alleged dynamite so powerful in its impact on the World As We Know It that conspiracy theories about his death are at large in the fever swamps.

So what’s the direction of Breitbart’s last big epochal project? Yet more splashing around in the right-wing kiddie pool of Barack Obama’s community organizer days in Chicago. It appears then-state-senator Obama attended, and participated in a panel discussion about, a play on Saul Alinsky in 1998.

Needless to say, this is a smoking gun only to people who (a) have anything more than the vaguest idea of who Saul Alinsky was; (b) subscribe to the idea that talking positively about the ideas and contributions of a writer/activist means slavish subscription to every word he or she ever uttered; and (c) have come to belief that Chicago in the 1990s or even more recently was a hellish rehearsal ground for the enslavement of America by Alinsky-inspired secular-socialists primarily operating through the marginal organizing group ACORN, which even then was planning the destruction of the U.S. housing market, the collapse of the global financial system, and the theft of the 2008 elections.

In other words, even if future installments of Breitbart’s sadly threadbare yet immensely self-important last will and testament have even more breathtaking revelations, they will be of interest only to people whose worldview is precisely the same as Andrew Breitbart’s. So by virtue of the wingnut feeback loop which lifted this man into celebrity to begin with, nothing he says from the grave will have any impact at all beyond confirming what these people already think.

Hope they enjoy their seance with Breitbart, for however long it lasts.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • John Dillinger on March 05, 2012 3:28 PM:

    Once he has nomination in the books, progressives need to provoke the lunatics of the right into questioning why Romney is not talking about [insert issue about Obama from the different past that inflames the kooks here]. Because surely there is no better way to persuade independents who voted for Obama in '08 to reverse that decision by concentrating on things from 15 to 30 years ago.

  • Charles Lemos on March 05, 2012 3:32 PM:

    It is hard for me to conceive how the conservative mind works. Look at Santorum's recent comments on the eve of the Michigan primary when he called Obama "a snob" for wanting all Americans to get a college degree - Obama actually has never said anything like that - and then went on to denounce as some vast conspiracy "to indoctrinate" susceptible youth. Remarkable that he can say that with no hint of irony. In Breitbart's mind, attending a play with an academic discussion follow up is evidence of a vast nefarious conspiracy underfoot. It's bizarre. It's even more bizarre that he would think that such would find currency among the electorate at large. And when they didn't, they being well relatively normal and not deranged, Breitbart would then seize upon this as further evidence of some conspiracy only they can see.

    Historian Richard Hofstadter's series of essays and books on the paranoid right remain as valid today as when he first began writing on this in 1954. The only difference was that then the paranoid right was a fringe, today that fringe is almost a third of the electorate.

  • Gandalf on March 05, 2012 3:48 PM:

    Saul Alinsky. Is he supposed to be some kind of uber bogieman? Hell I'm pretty liberal and until these crackpots started harping on poor old dead Alinsky I had no clue as to who he was and what he stood for. Thanks to our friends on the lunatic fringe I have found him to be a rather sympathetic character much in the vein of historic heroes like Robin Hood.

  • Lucia on March 05, 2012 4:11 PM:

    Your post title is missing a t.

  • TCinLA on March 05, 2012 4:12 PM:

    If you want to see just how pathetic Dimbart was, go here. Warning, this guy has done all sorts of unspeakable things to Dimbart's grave, but it's not like Dimbart didn't ask for it.


    Do click through to the other links there for more juice.

    I remember a few years ago, a Hollywood friend of mine got invited to one of Ariana Huff'n'Puff's soirees at her alimony-paid-for-it mansion and she asked me along since she's not so "politically literate" and wanted an elbow-grabber with whom she could change that. Dimbart was there as some sort of guest of all the other West LA heavyweight morons who think Ariana has something good to offer (I've known her 30 years - around similar places - and , trust me, she never did) and I kept thinking to myself how much fun it would be to walk up behind him, grab him by the scruff of his neck and slam his face into the wall - repeatedly. Unfortunately, good taste and decorum, and not wanting to harm my friend's reputation, won out over immediate gratification. But believe me, he really was a wingnut idiot's wingnut idiot.

  • T-Rex on March 05, 2012 4:13 PM:

    What's even more ironic is that in the last two or three years, the people most faithfully following the Saul Alinsky playbook have been the right wingers who disrupted Town Hall meetings throughout the summer of 2009, and the tea partiers at their subsequent rallies.

  • Rick Massimo on March 05, 2012 4:15 PM:

    "Thanks to our friends on the lunatic fringe I have found him to be a rather sympathetic character much in the vein of historic heroes like Robin Hood."

    Yeah, that's gonna happen a lot if our wingnut friends keep this up. Of course, they'll have had their payday and that's all that counts.

    I'm sorry anyone dies so young, especially with young children. However, I'm with TBogg in saying that I gleefully anticipate the soon-coming day that Breitbart's acolytes, deprived of his skills in organization and attention-getting, have to disperse and get real jobs. I hope they've all been real nice to the folks at their neighborhood 7-11s, because they'll be filling out applications very soon.

  • jeanne marie on March 05, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Ed, if you haven't read this Breitbart eulogy from Ta-Nahesi Coates, please do. I had not known Shirley Sherrod's life history before, only the damage done by the misleading video tape. Breitbart was instrumental, in as TNC put in another essay, in normalizing cruelty in the Conservative .


  • Daddy Love on March 05, 2012 4:58 PM:

    The legacy of anyone who builds their career on bombast and deceit will be brief at best.

  • jcricket on March 06, 2012 2:14 AM:

    In life, Breitbart was a metaphorical molotov cocktail throwing asshat.

    In death, his minions are metaphorical bic-lighter cocktail throwing asshats.

    But the big difference is that none of them sign the paychecks. Good luck to them all in their new job search.

  • Jenny Hatch on March 06, 2012 12:30 PM:

    We aren't going to let his legacy die...