Literary Lions and Fanciful Tales

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

My literary reputation is made. This week in the New Yorker magazine, I am likened to a member of the Communist Party U.S.A.

You might remember that not so many years ago for a writer or actor to be recognized as an American communist by the New Yorker was to be recognized as very progressive. If you were a writer, it went without saying that you were an exquisite writer and probably a humanitarian and advocate of early child schooling. All that talk about Soviet prison camps and general repression was presumed to be a lot of anti-communist hysteria. Communists were essentially soft-hearted folks or "liberals in a hurry," as the phrase had it. So now it is official; I am a moral and literary colossus.

My sudden literary recognition in the venerable New Yorker comes in an adulatory review of David Brock's new book, "Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative." The reviewer is Hendrik Hertzberg, who rose to literary prominence many years ago as a poet in President Jimmy Carter's speechwriting stable. Jimmy is the fellow who campaigned on the slogan, "If I ever lie to you, don't vote for me." He presided over an administration that saw American international prestige and American economic vitality sink to a post-World War II nadir while he transformed the presidency into a soapbox.

Naturally, the American people thought he was lying and did not vote for him in 1980; electing, instead, Ronald Reagan, a man whom Mr. Hertzberg and the other Carterites will still tell you was a dreadful failure.

From the literary plateau of the Carter White House, Mr. Hertzberg has vaulted from literary Himalaya to literary Himalaya, and now at the New Yorker he is touting Mr. Brock as heir to Arthur Koestler, author of "Darkness at Noon," and a writer in the vanguard of the anti-communist literary movements of the 1940s.

In our day, Mr. Brock himself is in the vanguard of our era's cutting-edge literary movement. He stands with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose, Michael Bellesiles, winner of the Bancroft Prize for history, and - I would guess - scores of other writers in employing such heretofore uncelebrated literary techniques as plagiarism, fictitious citations, made-up reportage, and bold fraud. Mr. Brock's fraud begins in his book's title, in the phrase "The Conscience of ... ." So replete is his book with fabrication that Mr. Brock obviously has no conscience.

Mr. Hertzberg, writing in his usual spumoni of confusion, is not all that clear as to whether it is he or Mr. Brock who has likened me to a communist, but I am not alone in receiving this gratifying accolade. His New Yorker review likens all conservatives and most Republicans to members of the Communist Party U.S.A. That means nearly half the citizens of the United States are communists. …