Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thanks for Playing (We Have Some Lovely Parting Gifts for You Backstage)

James O'Keefe = done.

MORE: And it looks like Andrew Brietbart is perfectly willing to go down with O'Keefe's ship.

Dave Weigel has a good look at the big picture:

I’ve known campus conservative activists for a decade, and I know the people who put together the 2006 forum quite well. Extremism — theories about race, right-wing European politics, anti-immigration rhetoric — is seen in these circles as something of a lark. It’s forbidden knowledge. It terrifies liberals. But people like Marcus Epstein and James O’Keefe feel (or felt) like they can get away with playing around in these circles before getting down to serious politics. And once they make that leap — as Epstein did with Buchanan, or as O’Keefe did with his ACORN tapes — the idea of being brought down by controversy is laughable. They’d faced down the Southern Poverty Law Center and won, so what do they have to fear?

Blumenthal’s article is worth reading for the background on O’Keefe’s race obsession at various points in his career. It makes a connection that liberals have had trouble making, between the right’s attacks on ACORN and the organization’s work registering poor, mostly non-white voters. But the new attention on the 2006 Robert Taft Club event suggests that young campus activists with big ambitions are going to find their dabblings in extreme politics coming back to haunt them. In other words, can the tactics conservatives used to attack Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings or Green Jobs Czar Van Jones–digging into their associations, reporting that they attended scary-sounding events, finding out-of-context, radical-sounding quotes from their earlier careers–be used against conservative activists?

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