Frank Rich lets the cat out of the bag

James H. Fetzer and J.R. Dunn
Yesterday I came across something both astonishing and infuriating.

I'm not the kind of egomaniac that checks his media coverage every day - just a commonplace, garden-variety egomaniac. Entire weeks can pass before I make the effort to Google my name. This week it occurred to me that it had been some time since I'd run a search on references to my book Death by Liberalism.  When I did, I discovered - this is the astonishing part - that Frank Rich had gone so far as to disparage the book in his New York Times column several weeks ago.

Rich dismissed Death by Liberalism as a "screed" -- sight unseen, I'm sure -- and seems to believe that it had something to do with the Giffords shooting, even though it came out weeks afterward.

As for the infuriating part: "...clearly someone had second thoughts. You'll look in vain for the usual hype, or mere mentions, of "Death by Liberalism" in other Murdoch media outlets (or anywhere else)." What Rich is saying is that certain members of the conservative movement were far more spooked by the Giffords attack than they have been willing to admit, and acting out in panic and spinelessness, were scared off of any acknowledgement of the book.

This contention raises a lot of questions: how much of this is Rich blowing smoke, as he has been known to do in the past? How much of it is simply the Manhattan rumor mill working hot and heavy? If it is true, who was involved and how did it go down?

But the sad thing about this is that it does fit the contemporary milieu -- it could easily have happened exactly the way Rich said it did. We clearly know of "conservatives" who are leftists in all but name, people like Parker, Brooks, and Sullivan.  Like everything else, conservatism exists on a continuum, with the Parkers and Sullivans on one end and people who would rather be shot then be caught reading their material on the other. Somewhere close to the leftward end are people who consider themselves to be conservatives but who feel comfortable among liberals, get along with them rather well, and are inclined to go along with them on occasion -- simply for the sake of good fellowship, you understand. People who could have done exactly what Rich asserts without blinking an eye.

These are hard questions, and we're unlikely to see any solid answers. But it is undeniable  that, in this crucial moment of our history, we have a conservative "elite" that is in no small  numbers divorced politically, culturally, morally, and in every other sense from the movement it professes to lead. This time, that fact hit very close to home.

Anyway, the book did scare Frank Rich. That's a plus. How many of the blue blazer boys can say they've done as much?                     
Yesterday I came across something both astonishing and infuriating.

I'm not the kind of egomaniac that checks his media coverage every day - just a commonplace, garden-variety egomaniac. Entire weeks can pass before I make the effort to Google my name. This week it occurred to me that it had been some time since I'd run a search on references to my book Death by Liberalism.  When I did, I discovered - this is the astonishing part - that Frank Rich had gone so far as to disparage the book in his New York Times column several weeks ago.

Rich dismissed Death by Liberalism as a "screed" -- sight unseen, I'm sure -- and seems to believe that it had something to do with the Giffords shooting, even though it came out weeks afterward.

As for the infuriating part: "...clearly someone had second thoughts. You'll look in vain for the usual hype, or mere mentions, of "Death by Liberalism" in other Murdoch media outlets (or anywhere else)." What Rich is saying is that certain members of the conservative movement were far more spooked by the Giffords attack than they have been willing to admit, and acting out in panic and spinelessness, were scared off of any acknowledgement of the book.

This contention raises a lot of questions: how much of this is Rich blowing smoke, as he has been known to do in the past? How much of it is simply the Manhattan rumor mill working hot and heavy? If it is true, who was involved and how did it go down?

But the sad thing about this is that it does fit the contemporary milieu -- it could easily have happened exactly the way Rich said it did. We clearly know of "conservatives" who are leftists in all but name, people like Parker, Brooks, and Sullivan.  Like everything else, conservatism exists on a continuum, with the Parkers and Sullivans on one end and people who would rather be shot then be caught reading their material on the other. Somewhere close to the leftward end are people who consider themselves to be conservatives but who feel comfortable among liberals, get along with them rather well, and are inclined to go along with them on occasion -- simply for the sake of good fellowship, you understand. People who could have done exactly what Rich asserts without blinking an eye.

These are hard questions, and we're unlikely to see any solid answers. But it is undeniable  that, in this crucial moment of our history, we have a conservative "elite" that is in no small  numbers divorced politically, culturally, morally, and in every other sense from the movement it professes to lead. This time, that fact hit very close to home.

Anyway, the book did scare Frank Rich. That's a plus. How many of the blue blazer boys can say they've done as much?