Come Saturday Morning: Is Incurious Mike Really That Incurious?
RNC Chair Michael Steele has enraged his fellow Republicans by admitting what they’ve been heatedly denying: That the Republican party has used the infamous white-supremacist-coddling “Southern Strategy” for the past four decades, and not just during the Nixon years. And as Reagan strategist Lee Atwater noted way back in 1981, a key part of the Southern Strategy is selling the idea of cutting taxes to white voters as a way to hurt black people without actually coming out and saying that they’re doing it to hurt black people — something to bear in mind the next time you hear a “deficit hawk” like Pete Peterson open his or her mouth to promote “fiscal responsibility”.
That in turn makes me think of the lengths Scott Brown went to in order to avoid letting Massachusetts voters know that he was actually a Republican – even keeping the word from appearing on his (very-Obamaish-looking) campaign website. I’m also reminded of the efforts of Michael Brodkorb to pretend that he was just some guy who happened to be a blogger targeting Democrats when in fact he was all but surgically attached to Ron Carey, the state GOP chair from 2005 to 2009, and a paid Republican operative well before he signed up to be the Republican Party of Minnesota’s deputy chair last year.
Why am I talking about all of this? Because of a jarring passage in this otherwise-fluffy New York Times beat sweetener about The Politico’s Mike Allen, billed as “The Man the White House Wakes up to”:
[Mike Allen’s father] Gary Allen was an icon of the far right in the 1960s and 1970s. He was affiliated with the John Birch Society and railed against the “big lies” that led to the United States’ involvement in World Wars I and II. He denounced the evils of the Trilateral Commission and “Red Teachers.” Rock’n’roll was a “Pavlovian Communist mind-control plot.” He wrote speeches for George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama and presidential candidate. “Gary Allen is one of the most popular writers that John Birchites read and believe with a zeal that is nervous-making,” wrote Nicholas von Hoffman in a 1972 Washington Post column. He wrote mail-order books and pamphlets distributed through a John Birch mailing list.
None of Mike Allen’s friends seemed to know any of this about his father, or they were diverting me with other monikers (like “football coach,” which he indeed was; Gary Allen coached a Pop Warner team that included Mike, who played center, badly). In an earlier phone interview, Allen said his mother was a first-grade teacher and his dad was a “writer” and “speaker.” After I mentioned his father at breakfast, Allen flashed a sudden, teeth-clenched smile that stayed frozen as I spoke. He had described his upbringing to me as nonpolitical. And maybe it was. People who knew Gary Allen, who died of complications from diabetes in 1986, described him as quiet and introspective. “He was more outspoken in his writing,” says Dan Lungren, a Republican member of Congress, who represented Orange County back then and knew the family. Lungren, who now represents a district that includes parts of Sacramento, said that the Allens hosted a meet-and-greet at their home for one of his early campaigns.
I asked Mike Allen what it was like being his father’s son. “We have a very close family,” he said slowly. “I’m very close to all my siblings, and I’m very grateful to my parents for all the emphasis they put on education and family and sports and Scouts.” He called his father “a great dad.” How did he make his living? “I don’t know the details of it,” Allen said.
Um, excuse me? Excuse me?
Gary Allen wrote speeches for George effing Wallace?! And held “meet and greets” for Republican candidates? And was a prominent propagandist for the John Birch Society?
And somehow his little darling son — a son who would grow up to become a reporter — had no clue what his dad was doing?!
This is hard to believe, as I’ve yet to meet any hardcore right-winger, especially a Bircher, who passed up the chance to indoctrinate his or her kids. And this particular Bircher was at a high enough level that he was entrusted with full-scale media manipulation by both the Birchers and George Wallace.
Now, granted, it’s not as if Mike Allen has done much in the way of good old-fashioned curiosity-driven journalism — he’s been much more likely to have had his scoops spoon-fed to him by guys like Dick Cheney, which would explain their high bullpucky factor — but even a spoon-fed GOP steno machine can’t be totally incurious, can he?
In my view, it’s a lot more likely that a conservative Bircher and Wallace propagandist would have told his kids to lie like rugs when asked about their political persuasion.
Remember the inherent deception that is at the core of the GOP’s “Southern Strategy”, the one that allows Republicans to cloak racism in the mantle of deficit hawkery. Remember also these words from Gary Allen’s fellow far-right propagandist Ralph Reed:
“It’s like guerrilla warfare. If you reveal your location, all it does is allow your opponent to improve his artillery bearings. It’s better to move quietly, with stealth, under cover of night. You’ve got two choices: You can wear cammies and shimmy along on your belly, or you can put on a red coat and stand up for everyone to see.”
There you go.