Wolcott on the Engorged New Right
At one point in Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow, the hero makes the discovery that “to express beliefs without conviction is liberating.” When I read that line I tried to momentarily give myself over to what it might be like to cease from struggle, to join in a consensus morality that required only varied hues of concurrence, and original thinking not at all.
The thought gave me incredible peace for a moment. Until I started thinking about all the people to whom that consensus was not an option without the price of extreme self-loathing — the poor, minorities, gays, women — and being myself a woman, and one who is not particularly fond of self-loathing, the lure of this particular palliative quickly evaporated. But it did offer a moment of insight about the Stockholm syndrome affecting the Administration’s most recent appointments, and the peculiar phenomenon that is Armstrong Williams.
It also explains something about the spate of popular autobiographies written recently by former lefties who have jumped over to the more lucrative side of the right, including David Horowitz, Roger L. Simon and now Michael Medved, in a book entitled Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life. Adding his voice to the chorus of “who cares” is James Wolcott, who writes:
I wasn’t aware Medved’s life was controversial; perhaps he mistakes a nation’s indifference for indignation, since I’ve never encountered anyone who considered him to be anything more than a minor nuisance, a chronic post-nasal drip.
Right Turns is yet another one of those memoirs about how the author started out as an idealistic liberal only to become disillusioned and realize the real money was to be made as a conservative shill wearing his apostate’s sincerity as a merit badge.
It also guarantees a lot of notariety of the “I told you so” variety for some pretty shoddy thinking and even worse writing. Wolcott notes that Medved has now earned himself a glowing review in next week’s New York Times Book Review for his collaborationist tome:
In the last graf, Stein writes, “Even many of his readers who hold very different political and social views will concede, grudgingly, the quality of Medved’s intellect.”
Like fuck we will. Here is an example of that quality intellect at work, as quoted by Stein.
“Medved devotes considerable space in his book to the religious right, and especially to his spirited public defense of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ… When asked by fellow Jews, ‘How can you work with people who sincerely believe you’re going straight to hell?’ his reply is simple: ‘It’s not a problem for me because I’m confident that they’re wrong.'”
“Intellect?” I’ve worked in the movie business for years, and Medved has never been known for anything more than churning out pandering rubbish guaranteed to get his name and his trite one-liners top placement in ads for movies so bad their own marketing departments can think of nothing better than to throw critics’ quotes at a credulous public.
Intellect my ass. Good riddance to bad rubbish.