Aren’t Our Wackos Their Wackos?

Via Megan Mcardle, Clive Crook writes:

The gap between the right of the Republican party, which is providing the angriest critics of the reforms, and the left of the Democratic party, which thinks the proposals too timid, is unbridgeable. These groups do not merely disagree. They despise each other. Their differences are only secondarily about policy. They hold each other’s values in contempt.

These snarling extremes are nonetheless somewhat alike. They have an equal and opposite penchant for conspiracy theories. Almost a third of Republicans, according to a recent poll, believe the unsupported story that Mr Obama was not born in the US (in which case he would be disqualified from serving as president). But remember that more than a third of Democrats subscribe to the even more outlandish theory that the Bush administration knew about the attacks of September 2001 in advance.

I shouldn’t wade into this, and I could be wrong here, but isn’t the “inside job” crowd well planted not in lefty groups but around the far-right? Push polling like this can get crazy results, so let’s look at keynote speeches by representative groups. Here’s part three of Jesse Ventura’s keynote speech at the 2008 Ron Paul convention that was held as a conservative and libertarian alternative to the Republican convention.

This section opens with 9/11:

Now, I’m going to go on to another subject that a lot of people don’t want to discuss today, I know I discuss it, its amazing, I get attacked. that’s called something called 9/11. why is it that when you ask questions about 9/11, its all out of bounds?…Well, here’s my question that I want you all, 2 questions that I want you to think about today. Number 1: Why has the United States Department of Justice not charged Usama Bin Laden for 9/11?…

I was shocked when I heard about this, that the keynote speech of the conservative rally was filled with dog whistles to the “inside job!” crew, and even more shocked when I heard it. At 4m02s you can start to hear parts of the crowd chant “Inside Job! Inside Job!” for about 10 seconds. He is notably not boo’ed, and, though I wasn’t in attendance, there doesn’t seem to be any mass agitation or uncomfortableness with the subject material by the audience.

Note that Ventura’s questions are dog whistles for the inside job theory – not the “Bush and Clinton were asleep at the wheel” meme, but that the standard narrative of 9/11 is grossly incorrect.

I’ll put out this dare, though I might be completely wrong and egg and my face will be in alignment, but I’ll paypal $10 to the first person who finds a Netroots Nation where the keynote speech takes a detour through the “Inside Job” land and the crowd loves it. Not that Bush was incompetent at protecting the country, or that the intelligence for the Iraq War was cooked, but an argument in the vein that the government itself put explosives in the Twin Towers, or that something other than an airliner crashed into the Pentagon, etc.

I think the best analogy for the left would be something like Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11”, which doesn’t have any inside job paranoia – if memory serves, the argument is that Bush was too buddy-buddy with the Saudia Arabians, but there’s no insinuations that a cruise missile hit the Pentagon.

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9 Responses to Aren’t Our Wackos Their Wackos?

  1. Gene says:

    Rosie O’Donnell is a representative of the left fringe here.

  2. Matt Frost says:

    As you point out, the claim that the American far left is as paranoid as the far right seems empirically unsound. But Jesse Walker (who should know) has written a sharp post about the ecumenical nature of a lot of our fringe politics.

  3. Mike says:

    Woah, nice on Rosie. I didn’t even know she’s a truther. I can’t imagine her giving a talk at Netroots Nations and name dropping the fire-melts-steel tuff without being boo’ed or pulled, though I am probably wrong. (I shouldn’t have waded in – but I am still amazed by that Ron Paul convention, because I believe that’s going to be a big part of the future of the GOP.)

    Matt, great link. I’m more on Reason’s side when it comes to the media’s job here than Perlstein’s, if only because we don’t live in the world of 3 oligarchies deciding what constitutes news.

  4. Ed says:

    This technique is as cheap as it is common, the false equivalency. And the claim that the 9/11 conspiracism is a liberal phenomenon is just plain wrong.

  5. Joe S. says:

    “more than a third of Democrats subscribe to the even more outlandish theory that the Bush administration knew about the attacks of September 2001 in advance.”

    Let me play a similar word game. “Almost all Democrats subscribe to the outlandish theory that Hitler was right.” The truth of this sentence depends on what you mean by “right.”

    Similarly for this poll. Let me translate Crook from false equivalence into English. Crook misread “knew . . . in advance”. More than one third of Democrats believe that Bush was specifically warned about the attacks of September 11 in advance. The warning to Bush happens to be true. As usual, reality shows its liberal bias. And maybe Crook shows some other biases.

  6. Matt H. says:

    I saw a presentation about the 3 World Trade towers that collapsed by Richard Gage of “Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth” in Chicago over a year ago. The evidence he presented to support the theory that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition was quite persuasive. I wonder what Gage’s political views are — his presentation was almost completely devoid of any such reference. For that matter, I wonder what the political views are of the 777 architects & engineers that have signed his petition for a new investigation.

  7. James Kwak says:

    Is there a source for the “>1/3 of Democrats” line? If there is Crook, doesn’t cite it. That strikes me as the kind of factoid that floats around for years despite being actually false, and that Crook seizes on to try to prove an equivalence between two things that aren’t. However, I could be wrong here.

    • Ted K says:

      It is interesting how often we see numbers quoted in blogs with absolutely no reference or link to where those numbers came from. This happens both with the hosts of the blogs and just the “average joe” posting on the sites. And we have guys like Andrew Sullivan making implications and hypothesizing about people’s personal lives (Sullivan’s posts on Sarah Palin). Let me make it clear I am not a Sarah Palin fan. I’m curious about Palin’s housing and how that was paid for. Why doesn’t Andrew Sullivan sniff out this issue, instead of wild things nearly impossible to verify?? I don’t think people on the right or left serve their own causes by sighting numbers that have little or no validity. And if we choose to attack, surely we have enough reasons to attack them on LEGITIMATE issues, not numbers and facts we pulled out of our imaginations.

  8. Jeff Carlson says:

    Over 25% of Democrats think GWB knew about the Sept 11th attacks in advance. Not “someday we will be attacked” but on 9/11 itself.

    Spin it all you want, the left is so full of kooks that you can’t swing a dead cat at a lefty meeting without hitting a couple …

    Mike Moore, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kunnick, Maxim Walters, Howard Dean … the list goes on … How many congressman or senators have to compare GWB to Hitler for it to actually count ? 2, 3, 4 ?

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