Facts Versus Conservatism

To one extent or another we all live in a bubble of psychological projection and confirmation bias that we mistake as “reality.” As I wrote in My Book, no one can begin to be rational until he perceives his own irrationality. Otherwise he’s just pretending.

I’ve seen people all along the political spectrum utterly lost in their own projections. But if you’re looking at prominent voices for progressivism and conservatism — popular books, websites, the handful of columnists and politicians we actually respect — most of the time the voices on the Left are at least trying to tether opinion to some form of objectively verifiable data or real-world circumstance. If a right-wing figure is criticized on the Left, most of the time — I believe I know of some exceptions but most of the time — the criticism is founded on information in the public record, something that has been documented the subject really did or really said.

The Right, on the whole, knows no such restraint. Entire libraries could be filled by books written by wingnut authors that are filled with nothing but rumors and invective they’ve copied and pasted from each other. Peggy Noonan, for example, is a master of this genre; her The Case Against Hillary Clinton contains entire chapters and long “quotes” of Clinton pulled entirely from Noonan’s imagination, as Noonan herself admits. It’s apparent Noonan believes that if she imagines something to be true, that it must be true, and made-up “facts” in support of her point of view are perfectly acceptable “proof” that she knows what she is talking about.

You might remember the way David Brock, once a fair-haired darling of the Right, had a crisis of faith while writing what was supposed to be a “hit” book on Hillary Clinton. He realized that much of his earlier work — on Anita Hill and on “Troopergate” — had been based on information he had been given by right-wing colleagues, but had not personally corroborated, and which he later realized were y all expedient lies. He decided to not write anything about HRC that he couldn’t personally corroborate, and the result wasn’t even close to the red-meat buffet he’d been commissioned to write. That, and his emergence from the closet, made him persona non grata on the Right.

But nothing brings out the right-wing Muse more than Hillary Clinton, and now that she’s apparently planning to campaign for the 2016 presidential nomination expect a new round of Hillary Hit Lit. Seriously, hoard every exclamation point you can find before they’re used up.

The newest entry to the Hit Lit parade is Blood Feud by Edward Klein, being excerpted in the New York Post. It is reviewed by Betty Cracker as a “steaming load of anonymously sourced horseshit” and Steve M as “a bad pulp novel, disguised as non-fiction, made up exclusively of right-wing gossip, right-wing talking points, and right-wing punch lines.” Typically of the genre, the book is made up of quotes from conversations the author couldn’t possibly have heard and dialogue that is credible only if you believe the Clintons and Obamas routinely pepper their dialogue with terms they read at NewsMax.

It may be that relatively few people will read Klein’s book. But the real purpose of such books is not to be read, but to be cited. Wingnuts on radio and television can just say “Edward Klein wrote in his book …” and repeat the lies, knowing that their hamster-headed audience will assume it must be true, because it’s in a book.

I’m sure if we looked we could find claims made in books popular on the Left that turned out not to be true. Sometimes even careful researchers get bum information and believe it. But I’m not aware of any leftie publisher or interest group knowingly fabricating lies and packaging them to be inserted into our national political dialogue.