I don’t read the New York Times. If I want to get my fill of progressive propaganda and nasty smears of the American people, I can read any number of progressive bloggers who do it faster, more frequently, and with a lot more style and wit. That’s not to say that the Times doesn’t hire a number of artistes de panique who occasionally deliver some first-class garment-rending but, generally, they just mail it in and collect their rather large paychecks.
Yesterday, Frank Rich dropped one of those bombs of bowel-watering fear for which he’s become known around the right side of the blogosphere. There can be no doubt that Rich is the ne plus ultra of the Times stable, a former drama critic inside of whom lives a Brobdingnagian drama-queen longing to burst forth like the horrible love-child of Ethel Merman and the “Leave Britney Alone” YouTube guy. Let me give you his opening.
No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.
What a setup! You just know that when a bred-in-the-bone drama guy starts racking up the nonsense poetic metaphors in the first paragraph (what does that last sentence mean, anyhow?), you’re in for one heck of a ride. Rich surely doesn’t disappoint. It takes him about two sentences to both tie the Tea Party movement to Stack and to say that he doesn’t think the Tea Party movement is tied to Stack in any way. And if that act of intellectual crack the whip wasn’t quite enough, Rich stomps the accelerator and takes his columns (and all of us unlucky to be on board) straight to crazy town.
But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner. That rant inspired like-minded Americans to create instant Facebook shrines to his martyrdom.
I’m quite sure that Rich didn’t actually scout around Facebook for these “shrines” that “like-minded Americans” created because if he had, his column might have included more than one link to the aforementioned “shrines.” However, his only apparent support for the assertion is this Associated Press article that cites one fan page. John Hinderaker found the one Facebook page allegedly created by “Americans” and discovered that it has 343 members. Yep, those “like-minded Americans” amount to a singular person who has managed to amass 343 whole followers to their single page. For the record, my blog gets about 500 unique hits a day, which means that I have more devotees on a daily basis than this single fan page has in total. No, I haven’t created a shrine to Stack on my blog either, thankyouverymuch.
That’s it. That’s the shoddy foundation on which Rich has created his towering edifice of fear. Better stock up on canned food and ammunition there, Frank. The right-wing crazy mob’s a’coming! Of course it’s a small mob, barely larger than the average left-wing protest to the President’s reauthorization of the devlish Patriot Act, fomented by exactly one person, but why should he let the difference between singular and plural stop him? He has a point to make, which is that the Tea Party movement, once declared as dead by such insightful political observers as Frank Rich, is a powerful force loaded with deranged maniacs who could tip into bloody violence at the slightest provocation.
I stopped reading the piece after the second paragraph because, hey, I only have so much sanity and I can’t afford to burn it up on stuff Frank Rich writes. I’d rather spend it on more useful ventures, like deciphering the Necronomicon or watching Ghost Adventures.