The Spectacle Blog

Attacking David Keene

By on 10.20.09 | 8:03AM

There's only one redeeming thing about this video, and it's the look on John Fund's face as he walks past hyperbolic documentary filmmaker John Ziegler. Ziegler spends much of his time in this video chasing after the American Conservative Union's David Keene.

This is pretty awful stuff. I think Quin Hillyer had a sufficiently Burkean respect when he said he felt that Keene should have an opportunity to explain the Fedex/UPS situation, which Keene did. If you wanted more, the man's pretty accessible. To then accuse to the man's face in a web video, repeatedly, that he sells out for money, and then be shocked the man walks away, is good dramatic affectation, but makes me roll my eyes.

There's a certain amount of courtesy you extend in an interview. When you repeatedly ask a question and you get the same answer, you may be upset that the person isn't giving you what you want, but you don't then chase them around a hotel, badgering them. You do that if you're Michael Moore, you do that if you're an actor on Punk'd. Let's not say that this interview was done in good faith -- if Mr. Ziegler was so inclined, he could have asked for clarification on the explanations already offered by Keene, rather than oversimplify it by saying Keene's opinions are for sale. Even if you buy that indelicate phrasing, what say you bring it up more thoughtfully?

In this, Ziegler makes a mess of what can be legitimate complaints about the Fedex/UPS brouhaha, Keene's support of Specter, or about how CPAC is run. I say "can be" because as presented here, they're dishonest. He squanders an opportunity to have a productive discussion about it, and provokes a man into a fit. 

Sample questions:
  • "A lot of people have expressed concerns about the possibility of CPAC being run in a pay-for-play fashion. How are you guarding against this?"
  • "Person A should not have been granted a spot given these examples of not being a proper conservative. What were the considerations that allowed this person to appear nonetheless?"
  • "You said in your response to the accusations of selling out to FedEx the following [...]. But yet there was still this point you did not address..."
Keene was taken aback by the approach chosen, and responded accordingly. That makes for some great T.V., some disappointment about the man's willingness to express his own anger, and didn't come out looking very good either. Announcing from the dais that Ziegler was being objected was, of course, asking for more drama.

But my general sense of things is to take the line from Buckley. Conservatism isn't one giant comment board in which everyone can flame to their heart's content. This isn't about "dissent," this is about people acting in good faith because we're trying to do the same thing. 

That's not to discount Ed Morrissey's point over at HotAir:

And quite frankly, after spending several hundred dollars to attend an event just to be told that dissent is “the heighth of rudeness” and that bloggers should shut up and defer to their movement elders was just a little too much too take.

I won’t return to events sponsored by the same organizations in the future. The big problem with the conservative movement has been its self-appointed leaders telling others to shut up and follow in lockstep, and I don’t think any so-called movement leaders taking that approach have the first foggy clue about what the New Media and Tax Parties mean.

I know what he's saying, because there are a bunch of organizations that haven't yet caught on to the fact that the ground is shifting. But given that many of these "self-appointed leaders" are so clueless, doesn't that mean they are less important, or will be soon enough? Why waste time?

The big problem is not the self-appointed leaders, although they are problematic. It's more the willingness of conservatives to allow these self-appointed leaders to call the shots. And that is finally changing too.
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