Bill Moyers: Conservative Radicals and the Politics of Vengeance
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Editor's note: In the following interview, Bill Moyers and powerhouse NYT editor and author of "The Death of Conservatism Sam Tanenhaus discuss the last gasps of the conservative movement. Tanenhaus says that far from signifying a resurgence of conservative ideals, the Tea Party protesters and shock jocks like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh spell the doom of the conservative movement. The interview starts with some scenes from journalist Max Blumenthal's video of last weekend's right-wing protests in Washington. Check out the video, which features exclusive footage of the Tea Party protesters that swarmed the Capitol, at the end of this article.
BILL MOYERS: Conservatives were out in force in Washington last weekend. They had come to express their opposition to big government, to taxes and wasteful spending, and health care reform they fear would lead to a nightmare of bureaucracy. Max Blumenthal, author of REPUBLICAN GOMORRAH waded into their midst to sample opinions.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: So you're saying if the government eliminates Social Security and Medicare then you'll get out of the program?
WOMAN: No, I said if they get out of my life.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Out of your Social Security and-
WOMAN: No, out of everything.
BILL MOYERS: But they had also come to deplore and denounce President Obama- in their minds a tyrant akin to Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and Saddam Hussein.
MAN: I'm afraid he's going to do what Hitler could never do and that's destroy the United States of America.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: And what's the Obama revolution, what's going to happen?
MAN: Similar to Germany, like what Hitler did. He took over the auto industry, did he not? He took over the banking, did he not? And Hitler had his own personal secret service police, Acorn is an extension of that.
BILL MOYERS: They had found a new hero in Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican whose shout heard 'round the world was now the rallying cry of the weekend.
CROWD: You lie! You lie!
BILL MOYERS: Glenn Beck, their favorite pundit, had promoted this march and was reveling in its success.
GLENN BECK: This is a collection of Americans who but want both parties to stop with the corruption, stop with the spending and start listening to the people. Fox's Griff Jenkins is there now in Washington D.C., hey Griff.
GRIFF JENKINS: Glenn its unbelievable, thousands and thousands of people, look at this crowd right there. Do you guys have something you want to say to Glenn Beck?
BILL MOYERS: Watching those protestors you would have to say there's a lot of fight left on the Right, and you wouldn't be wrong. This rising tide of populist resistance to Obama, the anger over the massive government bailout of Wall Street and big failed corporations, have raised Republican hopes for a comeback. And it has Democrats scratching their head wondering how to respond.
So what do we make of this new book titled THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM? Has the author Sam Tanenhaus spent his time and considerable talent on a premature obituary?
Sam Tanenhaus edits two of the most influential sections of the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES - the Book Review and the Week in Review. He's has had a long fascination with conservatives and conservative ideas. He wrote this acclaimed biography of Whittaker Chambers, the journalist who spied for the Russians before he became fiercely anti-communist and a hero to conservatives. Now Tanenhaus is working on a biography of the conservative icon William F. Buckley JR.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL, Sam Tanenhaus.