LESS GULLIBILITY, PLEASE
Maybe it's absurd to care about how easily Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones was sold a ridiculous story here -- after all, it's not a very important story. But the spin skills in use here are the ones right-wingers employ to get across other messages and memes, the ones that really wind up affecting our lives for the worse, so we need journalists, especially on the left, who know when the righties are lying, which is pretty much any time their lips are moving:
Did the Tea Party Convert David Mamet?
... Reviewers [of his book The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture] ... have noted that [David] Mamet credits such right-wing talk show hosts as Glenn Beck and Hugh Hewitt for putting him on the path to righteousness. But could it be possible that the tea party movement had something to do with his conservative conversion as well?
At least one tea partier thinks so. Earlier this month, Mark Meckler, one of the national coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots, appeared on a panel in DC discussing the future of the tea party movement. Meckler ... spent his time talking about how the country is engaged in a culture war and how the tea party movement is joining the battle. The movement, he said, is now turning its attention to Hollywood, to music, and to education in order to reclaim young minds from the evils of socialism.
Meckler noted that the tea party had already started to have an impact on culture, as seen in the rise of "patriotic music," like that of the Dartmouth college rap duo the Young Cons, who are skilled at working Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, and Jesus into a single song. Meckler also claimed the horse racing movie Secretariat is "a tea party movie."
But Meckler also found evidence of the tea party's influence in Mamet's new book, which the tea party leader had been reading on the airplane en route to DC for the conference. Meckler explained to the audience that Mamet had been what he now calls a "brain-dead liberal," and for decades part of the depraved Hollywood cultural elite. But now, Meckler said, "David Mamet publicly came out as a conservative... This is a cultural shift that has never happened before in this country."
Meckler suggested that Mamet's conversion was a direct result of the tea party movement's success at spreading the conservative gospel....
Oh, for the love of God. Where to begin?
With the Young Cons -- a rap group no one actually listens to, except out of a grim sense of duty to the movement?
Or with Secretariat -- a "tea party movie" Disney was at work on as early as 2007, a couple of years before the tea party movement even existed? Yes, Disney did some subgroup marketing for Secretariat, but it was to Christians, not specifically teabaggers. And yes, a key plot point in Secretariat is the question of whether the family that owns the horse will have to sell it to pay estate taxes -- a point that was exploited by right-wing pundits after the movie's release. But the right has been fighting the estate tax literally for decades -- Jim Martin, the founder of the right-wing anti-AARP known as 60 Plus, coined the term "death tax" in 1993.
And as for Mamet himself, if his conversion had been the work of the tea party, it would have required a time machine -- as Roy Edroso has noted -- his switch actually happened while Bush was still president:
David Mamet has a new book, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, which Andrew Ferguson at the Weekly Standard says "marks the terminal point of a years-long conversion from left to right that Mamet-watchers (there are quite a few of these) have long suspected but hadn’t quite confirmed." Hadn't quite confirmed? Mamet's "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'" appeared in the Village Voice in 2008.
But that essay "was much milder than its title," insists Ferguson. "It was the work of a man in mid-conversion." (Mamet merely said, "I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind," called Thomas Sowell "our greatest contemporary philosopher," etc.) So never mind the high-level notice previously taken of Mamet's political journey; wait'll the libs find out he's really conservative now. Bet they'll be mad!
And as for Meckler's contention that Mamet's conversion from Hollywood liberal to right-winger is "a cultural shift that has never happened before in this country," um ... Ronald Reagan? Hello?
Reporters, please: don't be so easily spun.