Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save The World! by Andrew Breitbart
Grand Central Publishing, April 15th, 2011
Andrew Breitbart came to my knowledge at a time when I still would have described myself as conservative. It was at a time when I’d started to listen to the more dissident and unknown voices on the right but I still had what would now be described as a “cucky” way of thinking. Although certainly no man of virtue, I was put off by vulgarity and direct attacks on the left though starting to find the latter more thrilling and effective. Where I first saw Breitbart gives a good indication of where I was as it was on a program called ‘Uncommon Knowledge’ hosted by Peter Robinson. This I believe was the very video I saw and as you can see, this is a good example of the defensive bow-tie conservatism that I now detest.
Breitbart was unique not only for his background but for the way he began using the Left’s own tactics against them. He attacked relentlessly and wasn’t too worried about how he looked doing it. In the short time he was on the public stage, he changed the political game significantly. He can fairly be seen in hindsight as someone that paved the way to Trump’s triumph in 2016. This is the reason I was interested in reading this book.
The important think to note is that like most contemporary political books, it has quickly become dated. The events and ideas discussed already seem old though they were all much less than a lifetime ago. It also mixes a lot of the personal and political and is somewhat autobiographical. I knew this before I bought it and began to read with low expectations.
Some of what is contained within later became relevant to the 2016 Presidential Election. Namely, John Podesta, the Clinton and Democrat machine, Hollywood and the media. Breitbart grew up in and was a part of a lot of this before and after he began veering right. Like I once did, conservatives either do (or want to), believe that the left is ultimately after the same thing, they are just going about it the wrong way. Breitbart knew that was bull**** and did a lot to show people like me why.
For such an odd figure, it is good that the book begins with a background into his childhood, his parents and how he became the person he was. Andrew Breitbart’s story is common to many rudderless men. A pleasant childhood (perhaps too much so), an essentially pointless trip through college before settling into a job somewhat approximating what he was looking for. Breitbart’s life changed when he came into the “real world” so to speak and had to work for a living and support a family. Helped along by figures like Rush Limbaugh, he began to question the soft-left assumptions he’d been brought up with and gradually moved to the right.
His calling came with the rise of the Internet as a new outlet for media and an opportunity for everyone with a blog or a camera to start influencing public opinion. Andrew Breitbart was in it from the beginning; being involved (in the background), with reporting on the Monica Lewinsky scandal which the mainstream media was trying to keep hushed. This is where men like Matt Drudge went from obscure to a household name and explains why far from merely bursting onto the scene, Andrew Breitbart was in the game for a long time before seeing success.
After covering all of this, much of the remainder of the book is more an insider look at events such as the rise of the Tea Party movement, Obamacare and the ACORN scandal. The background behind all of this is interesting for anyone that was following it but not really relevant to American politics today. A lot has changed since Andrew Breitbart passed away and these sort of scandals seems small in comparison to what has followed. Though James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas is still going strong.
Getting now to the title of this post, I have to wonder what Breitbart would be doing were he alive today? I additionally have to wonder with his familiarity with shady figures like John Podesta, whether or not his death was just one of those freak accidents or whether something more sinister happened. Going by what I know of him from this book and elsewhere, I’d assume he would have been solidly behind Trump and that his successes both before and after the election would have filled him with pride. Like Trump, Breitbart can neatly be described as a civic-nationalist – someone who believes that America is for everyone who obeys the laws, respects the traditions and works hard. I can’t see that he would have been very supportive of Trump’s stances on immigration but then, like many, he could have changed his tune pretty quickly without seeming to contradict himself as his focus was mostly on the media and he was more an instinctual conservative than an ideological one.
I miss Andrew Breitbart and think American political commentary is significantly poorer without him. However, he has left a mark that can be seen all over the Internet and has even crept into mainstream media. The right has been so effective in turning the lefts tactics against them that platforms are now simply banning the most effective. If Breitbart were still alive, his personal Twitter account would have been banned and maybe his website too. I don’t know how he would have responded to these new and more openly hostile tactics but it is left to others to deal with them. If I were to guess, I would say that were he alive, he would be even more ferociously hostile to the left.
I think Righteous Indignation is more an interesting book than it is a useful one. It won’t ever be considered a great political tract but it is a decent personal account of a fallen soldier who helped open a new front in a long war.