Whenever someone dies, there is something called a ‘decent interval’ where it is considered in extremely poor taste to disparage the deceased. It’s perfectly reasonable – even the worst of people have families who are mourning the loss, and it does no good to rub salt in their fresh wounds. The length of that decent interval is very much an ambiguous question. There is no rule as to when it’s done, but it’s usually proportional to the amount of good (or evil) the person did in hir life. I myself was appalled when the vultures began circling almost immediately after Christopher Hitchens died.
Andrew Breitbart died last week. When it happened, I stated it as a fact and left it alone because, despite the revulsion I felt toward him, it wasn’t right to begin crowing victory at the death of an enemy. Mobutu & Gen. Ze’evi have apparently kicked the fucking door off the ‘decent interval’, and thank fuck for that:
Provocateur, website founder and collector of America’s largest wads of spittle Andrew Breitbart died last Thursday morning, when some sentient shred of his cardiac organ kamikazed out of an exhausted sense of justice.
The invertebrate response from journalists was exactly to be expected. Breitbart said, like, bad stuff in his lifetime, but he also married someone and fathered people; once he even objected to anti-gay GOP rhetoric. A malicious career and two milquetoast mitigating facts: It all balanced out, really, at least for the purposes of forced, quailing objectivity. To borrow a grossanalogylustilyemployed on Breitbart’s own websites, if today’s mainstream media was penning obits on May 1, 1945, they would have summed up with, “Despite initiating the Second World War, the German leader was fond of public architecture and is survived by his beloved dachshunds.”
But nothing so generic could be the money quote of this squeamish grudging esteem-a-thon. For that, we have to go to Slate‘s Dave Weigel, who quoted Breitbart thus: “‘Feeding the media is like training a dog,’ he wrote. ‘You can’t throw an entire steak at a dog to train it to sit. You have to give it little bits of steak over and over again until it learns.’” This is just the carrot part of the metaphor. Nobody mentioned the stick.
The piece is long, but holy fuck is it amazing. I love good polemic, and this is great polemic. You’ll notice that the focus is (rightly) placed on Mr. Breitbart’s actions and behaviour, and is a criticism of things he actually did. This isn’t crowing over someone’s death – this is an unapologetic statement that the man who people are tiptoeing around revealed himself to be an awful person deserving of an honest and thorough verbal keel-hauling, which this piece gives him in spades.
Go read it right now. Some choice nuggets below the fold.
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“What his biggest fans have never confronted, and what the obits omitted, perhaps out of embarrassment, is that Andrew Breitbart was always a creature of the left, accepted by the establishment, nurtured by the American elite. They made him from cradle to grave. He was banal troll indistinguishable from any gin-blossomed paunch of resentment occupying a neighboring barstool and nursing his own sense of denied grandeur—save for the glorious intervention of two cultures he so loudly claimed to hate: The Hollywood madding crowd and, later, the Beltway water cooler.”
“Breitbart slouched, eked out a pathetic GPA as an American Studies major, then tried to exonerate his failure via a baseless indictment of “Marxist” scholarship: He didn’t fare poorly because of innate failures but because he rejected the school’s terms. (“Dude, I woulda done waaay better on the SATs, but I took ‘em drunk, because fuck that.”)”
“Breitbart is another sign of American decline. He’s what happens when even the ratfuckers have lost all subtlety to their art. When the far-right is bad at dirty tricks, and can’t even frame up some black activists without a messy, drawn-out pushback, it’s time to fear for the state of the union, because their every success is indication that they’ve had help.”
“How was Breitbart able to inflict a critical hit on ACORN? A truly subversive journalist diagnosed the means years ago: “It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.” Breitbart snorted out those blind spots like a truffle pig.”