Fox News bad boy Tucker Carlson is stirring things up again, hippie-punching the New York Times’s Taylor Lorenz, accusing her of snowflakery. The New York Times counterpunches with charges of cruelty. Both charges quite possibly are well founded.
That said, there’s a backstory. Tucker has Hippie roots.
He attended more than 50 Grateful Dead concerts in his day. Per Fox News, "…Tucker Carlson – who has attended at least 50 shows – named his latest book 'Ship of Fools,' an homage of the Grateful Dead song of the same name."
Carlson has company in his transformation from gentle Hippie to tough guy Hells Angel: Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump.
Matt Taibbi (paywalled at Substack and worth every penny), reminds us that Rush started off as a mildly Hippified personality, "Jeff Christie." Rush, who was more about pwning progressive pieties than promoting authentic conservatism, pivoted to tough guy and went on to fame and fortune.
His pivot from pussycat to grizzly bear (dancing or not) soon was emulated by one real estate mogul named Donald Trump. Trump began his own political adventures singing Kumbaya. As Fintan O’Toole reminds us in the New York Review of Books:
"At the beginning of this century, Trump was testing the market for a run at the presidency. This was the product he thought Americans would buy: Oprah on his ticket, a guarantee to serve one term only, and an insistence that ‘one of our next president’s most important goals must be to induce a greater tolerance for diversity.' In his manifesto The America We Deserve (2000), Trump claimed that his friendships with the rapper Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs and baseball outfielder Sammy Sosa had left him with 'little appetite for those who hate or preach intolerance.' The horrible murder in Wyoming of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, had convinced him of the need to ‘work towards an America where these kinds of hate crimes are unthinkable.'"
"Most strikingly, Trump’s analysis in 2000 was that his putative rival for the Reform Party nomination, a right-wing populist, could never be elected because he had spent too long as a professional loud-mouth: 'Simply put, Pat Buchanan has written too many inflammatory, outrageous, and controversial things to ever be elected president.' This kindly, tolerant, politically correct President Trump… never found a market. Trump soon realized that it wouldn’t fly. He dropped it and eventually worked his way toward the presentation of a very different commodity. He realized that overindulgence in the 'inflammatory, outrageous and controversial’ was not an obstacle but a springboard to the presidency.'"
America recently elected the touchy-feely Joe Biden in preference to the swaggering Donald Trump. And yet … even with President Joe in the White House, Limbaugh gone to his Eternal Reward and Trump in quasi-exile many millions continue to yearn for tough guys. Some of us saw this coming.
As I observed way back in 2015 at Forbes.com, Politics, Noir:
"Donald Trump continues to dominate and fascinate. Why? Politics, like comic books, thrillers, detective stories, science fiction, professional wrestling, movies and TV is a pulp medium. … What’s going on now in Campaign 2016 isn’t strictly politics. It is melodrama. …
"Donald Trump, 'Reality' TV star, grasps the conventions of the pulp world better than any of his (far more qualified, far more distinguished, and far more likable) rivals. Trump is getting the best ratings because Trump is presenting a more compelling pulp Story.
"It surely is no coincidence that Trump’s emergence comes in the era where Breaking Bad entered the Guinness Book of World Records as 'the highest rated TV series' of all time. Popular culture now is dominated by stories of antiheroes: Walter White, Don Draper, Barksdale, Frank Underwood, Tony Soprano … the list goes on."
And as I wrote for The Transpartisan Review, in Political Armageddon, in 2019:
"[W]e pivot to demonizing one another. As an aside, one can trace the evolution of the American narrative from Hollywood’s output. In the ‘30s you had frontier Westerns with heroic sheriffs fighting brutal outlaws. The ‘40s gave us heroic soldiers fighting evil Nazis and imperial Japanese troops. The ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s gave way to heroic fights against Communist agents. All gave way to noir anti-heroes, dystopian futures, Imperial Storm Troopers and, eventually, Zombies."
Rush Limbaugh walked, as Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump walk, on the wild side.
Progressives are appalled, having forgotten (as I, another right wing Deadhead, remember) how the greatest poet of our generation, Allen Ginsburg, saw how the Hippies and Hells Angels, who detested each other over their respective opposition to and support of the Vietnam War, both, as outlaws, had undiscovered affinities.
Ginsberg invited them both to a wild party. The Hippies and Hells Angels became, for a time, fast friends.
So… word up, Tucker. Keep on Truckin’!
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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