The Conscience of a Self-Confessed Fraud

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

My literary reputation is made! The New Yorker magazine has likened me 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 a 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 speech-writing 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 soap box. Naturally the American people thought he was lying and did not vote for him in 1980; electing, instead, Ronald Reagan, a man whom Hertzberg and the other Carterites will still tell you was a dreadful failure.

From the literary plateau of the Carter White House, Hertzberg has vaulted from literary Himalaya to literary Himalaya, and now at The New Yorker he is touting 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 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. Brock's fraud begins in his book's title, in the phrase The Conscience of.... So replete is his book with fabrication that Brock obviously has no conscience.

Hertzberg, writing in his usual spumoni of confusion, is not all that clear as to whether it is he or 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. …