Andrew Breitbart To Mediaite: Yes, He’s After The ‘Institutional Right,’ Too
That’s not to say that he is unwilling to work with the left. Breitbart is extremely proud of his work “exposing the left” by helping to build The Huffington Post, calling his place in that site’s history “high art,” and emphasizing how deliberate his choice to participate in the project truly was. The deal, he explained, was for Arianna Huffington to become “queen of the left-wing blogosphere,” while exposing the seedy underbelly of the left to relentless attack by Breitbart and his cohorts. Both sides would agree it worked like a charm– to whose benefit, however, is another story.
“No one understands absurdity like John Waters… If being a conservative means renouncing John Waters,” he declares, “Then I would proudly not be one.”
Culturally, many of his heroes are also ideological foes. He cites ’60s left-wing radical Abbie Hoffman as an inspiration. He compares his position on the American right to “Andy Warhol, waiting for the models and artists to come to me, or John Waters.”
Of the latter’s film Pink Flamingos he gushes with an enthusiasm eclipsing even that which he reserves for taking on the institutional left. “No one understands absurdity like John Waters… If being a conservative means renouncing John Waters,” he declares, “Then I would proudly not be one.”
Just as he is willing to give the other side their due, Breitbart is also not averse to taking on the “institutional right”– and yes, he does use that term, too. He highly disapproves of the collusion between government officials and Wall Street and, in many ways, perceives the hyper-socialists and hyper-capitalists as one in the same: elites. “I’d rather see anyone who can run a restaurant or own a business run the country better than an Ivy League elite,” he notes. Not that he has any personal animus with anyone on the left, especially with the President. “Obama is just a charismatic salesman… if we take him down, another head pops up.”
He is similarly fair in policing his own side of the aisle, to a certain extent. He directs me to his comments in the aftermath of whatever James O’Keefe wanted to do to CNN’s Abbie Boudreau, his rebuke of Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze for not properly attributing information. Beck comes up one other time in the conversation, in the context of the Shirley Sherrod fiasco. “Glenn Beck threw me under the–”
The phone rings. Breitbart springs up with a newfound urgency and paces around the Starbucks, searching for a nook in which to speak into the phone. “I’m supposed to be on Hannity!” he whispers– which causes the people at the table next to us, who had been staring with a quizzical look that betrayed their incomplete recognition, to smirk at each other with the delight of full understanding.
By then, Breitbart is out the door, taking refuge in the corner of some imposing skyscraper to speak to Sean Hannity, as cars and tourists whiz by, unaware of the background din they’re greeting the Hannity production team with.
Despite having just been reminded of his appearance seconds before going on air, Breitbart sounds relaxed and natural– slightly less elated than when he was going on about John Waters minutes ago. He describes so vividly the liberal California culture he loathes that by the time he’s done explaining Huffington’s world of “air kisses” and dinner parties, I try to remember her face, but can only conjure up the image of Lucille Bluth.
He concludes our interview by reiterating the core message of Righteous Indignation and, more broadly, his career: elitism for its own sake is native to the left, and will ultimately be the nation’s undoing if not stopped. The message captures both Breitbart’s greatest strengths and weaknesses– on the one hand, he’s not fighting an ideological struggle, but a cultural one. This makes the fight rather fun, and the journey more of an adventure than a miserable trudge through the woods. On the other, the cultural hegemon he is fighting is too complex to fit into soundbites and catchphrases, leaving plenty of room for error regarding who gets left out of the movement (successful right wing thinkers who feel marginalized by the “elite” moniker), and who gets swept in (those who may not have the academic or intellectual horsepower to lead the movement but take charge on sheer will, anyway). It is as messy an endeavor as it is earnest, and as devoid of anger as it is overflowing with outrage.
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