I was up for basically two or three days straight, even when I did close my eyes for a few minutes it was mostly in a sitting position in front of a screen of some kind. Finally, last night around 10 PM, it caught up with me. I went down like an obsolete skyscraper and only woke up a few hours ago. And what is one of the hop topics on the intertoobz and cables newzes when I rise from the crypt? Conservative con artists fleecing their own. Mostly centered around K-K-Karl Rove’s Crossroads which scammed almost half a billion dollars out of wealthy conservatives and delivered precisely nothing.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Political junkies all over have always looked on, bewildered, at the wanton exploitation of religious Americans, married Americans, libertarian Americans; pretty much anyone of any age occupying any social strata, who can serve as an easy mark for dozens of conservative grifters. Makes you wonder how all that started and why conservatives put with it:
The Baffler — Back in our great-grandparents’ day, the peddlers of such miracle cures and get-rich-quick schemes were known as snake-oil salesmen. You don’t see stuff like this much in mainstream culture any more; it hardly seems possible such déclassé effronteries could get anywhere in a society with a high school completion rate of 90 percent. But tenders of a 23-Cent Heart Miracle seem to work just fine on the readers of the magazine where Ann Coulter began her journalistic ascent in the late nineties by pimping the notion that liberals are all gullible rubes. In an alternate universe where Coulter would be capable of rational self-reflection, it would be fascinating to ask her what she thinks about, say, the layout of HumanEvents.com on the day it featured an article headlined “Ideas Will Drive Conservatives’ Revival.” Two inches beneath that bold pronouncement, a box headed “Health News” included the headlines “Reverse Crippling Arthritis in 2 Days,” “Clear Clogged Arteries Safely & Easily—without drugs, without surgery, and without a radical diet,” and “High Blood Pressure Cured in 3 Minutes . . . Drop Measurement 60 Points.” It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA—and to get her candid assessment of why conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.
And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.