Monday, March 5, 2012

Andrew Breitbart's last rip

Posted By on 03.05.12 at 12:40 PM

Though I was not asked to be an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, I played a small part in seeing to it he passed from this world to the next in a blaze of glory.

The conservative blogger died suddenly March 1 at the age of 43. "Andrew was a warrior who stood on the side of what was right," said Sarah Palin.

Tucker Carlson, editor of the Daily Caller, called Breitbart “a compelling person with a great capacity for friendship. I hope that doesn’t get lost in the intense discussions about his politics and his political activism. He was a great guy.”

He was the sort of happy warrior who when Edward Kennedy died tweeted that Kennedy was "a special pile of human excrement." And who, at the time of his own death, was being sued by former Department of Agriculture staffer Shirley Sherrod over a video clip Breitbart posted on his that, as edited, misrepresented her as a racist and cost her her job.

But sometimes he was on more solid ground—he posted the photos of Andrew Anthony Weiner in skivvies that drove the New York congressman from office. And apparently he was always a great dinner companion.

On Sunday, Breitbart's last column was posted posthumously on his renovated Big Government site. He'd written it just before he died. His subject was a column of mine published in the Reader in February about the heavy lifting Republicans were doing, Newt Gingrich in particular, to tar President Obama by linking him to the legacy of the late community organizer Saul Alinsky. The vital piece of evidence the right was massaging was a poster—promoting a play about Alinsky produced in Chicago in 1998—that mentioned that Obama, then a state senator but earlier in his career a community organizer, was one of several local dignitaries lined up as panelists who'd talk about Alinsky after the Sunday performances.

Discussing the poster, I probably betrayed a certain confusion as to what exactly it was about Alinsky that so infuriated the right in the first place? Was it his belief that the power to transform the lives of the poor belongs in the hands of the poor, and not the hands of their better-dressed, better-educated, better-mannered advocates?

"Miner obscured the truth," wrote Breitbart, though his only specific complaint on that score is that the Reader didn't reproduce the entire poster. Having done his homework, Breitbart gave us a taste of the script, Alinsky speaking favorably of stealing food from restaurants to stay alive, Alinsky remembering the wonderful day when demonstrators got the attention of City Hall by occupying the toilet stalls at O'Hare, Alinsky shouting the war cry that apparently Breitbart regarded as unbearably bellicose—"“Students of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your juicy fruit"—Alinsky actually saying he'd rather go to hell than heaven because in hell he could organize the have-nots.

Breitbart went on to explain why the other panelists were also incorrigible pinkos. "Are we expected to believe that 'Baraka Obama' was a countervailing voice of reason on a panel of radicals?" he wanted to know. I'm guessing Breitbart admired Alinsky's chutzpah more than Obama did, and went to his own grave sorry that he'd never had the chance to sit next to Alinsky at dinner.

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