The first thing you notice about Breitbart is that he's a lot more energetic and natural in person than he's appeared to be in videos I recall of him. When he busted ACORN, I seem to recall him as smarter than the average bear and a lot more disciplined and articulate than the wildman he appears to be today. But I think he's just getting his groove. He's riding a large beast and has drawn a sword across the noses of some fierce enemies. But Breitbart has something very powerful going for him. He's genuine, and he's motivated to unite people.
What's more, in some important ways, we two think alike. We think alike about Hollywood. He sees the big cultural picture. It turns out that my day today was connected to David Mamet two ways. You see, I went to the FOB to see Breitbart and Ricky Jay. As Andrew and I were walking, he mentioned to me that there's a book coming out by David Mamet that's going to turn the country, or at least the chatting classes of it, on its ear. But wouldn't you know that Ricky Jay was a consultant via Deceptive Practices to David Mamet in a number of films I always loved but didn't know Mamet was involved in, including Ronin, House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner. Triple wow. What Breitbart and I see about Hollywood is that it makes you love the bad guy and turns Americans against each other, and that finally all of the wickedness in the entertainment industry is just become that banal evil. It's boring, that decades long rehash of acceptable rebellion.
Like me, Breitbart is a recycled liberal who thought his way out of the paper bag. He grew up in Santa Monica, and now finally looks the part - rather like we all want to look, perfectly comfortable with ourselves and other people on a sunny day in Southern Cal.
Breitbart is smart in the way that people who have a million connections to other people are smart. He's heads-up smart. I didn't see it today, but I can tell he can get things done through other people and that is because even though he is clearly a lightning rod, he's the first to connect dots and see what it is that other people do well. In the half hour we spent together, I had to make him talk about himself. I watched him get off the ETC stage where he had been rescheduled and hang out with friendly folks while other folks had stalking debates with him about controversies. On stage, he was polemical in the way you are for the media, offstage he was, quite literally, a man of the people. Kaus was in the audience. He noticed.
Breitbart's strategy is to disintermediate what he calls the Hollywood Democrat Media Complex or something like that. The Yang to Hillary Clinton's VRWC. But he's not so shrill about it and understands what he's up against. He's up against money and the inability for journalists to talk out of school. So he's going to use judo against them. He'll be nimble and he'll be quick and watch big media trip on it's own, eh petard. It worked for the ACORN videos, what else can it work for? Hard to say, but he's got common sense on his side. I think he could be too clever by half - I see he's in the middle of the whirlwind right now, but he doesn't show any signs of fatigue. I think it's because, even though he drinks from the media firehose, he's got a very good sense of when people are trying to snow him. I watched people walk by and call him a racist, I could see the smug contempt on their faces. I could anticipate them jumping to their conclusions. Breitbart doesn't try to be wonky and out-wonk them, and that's why he survives.
His dust jacket speaks of Commonsense Conservatism. He told me that he didn't set out to support the Tea Party, but that after 30 times seeing them all over the country he realized that they were people he couldn't deny any longer. He had come to know too many of them to let the lies go unanswered, and I think that's where he is at his center. He just hates the arrogance of the lies and he wants to bust the liars. He's got a big streak of honesty in him, and I think he genuinely loves people.
Breitbart walks around in big man's shoes. Almost anonymous in the crowd but the guys at McSweeny's know him. One of the booth dudes gives him a book for free so an author could sign it. It's some kind of in-joke I don't quite get, but Breitbart handles it smoothly. He reminds me of Dennis Miller when Miller knows some fan is buttering him up for the big snarky remark. He's got the sense of when people are being real or fake. He doesn't hate the fakes, but you can tell he's out to expose them. We went over to the RAND tent. He knew somebody in that organization and left his regards. He can distinguish the distractions from the serious stuff and didn't give Birther Madness much of his attention. He's working on bigger plans.
It took me a while to determine if and how I should approach him, and I'm glad I did. He doesn't strike me as a wonky guy, and my interest is much more political philosophy than media presence. But media presence is a critical part of the game - and the game is melioration of moral, honest ideas - something for which this is a false oligopoly in the Media Empire. Breitbart naturally understands it, and now he is a double agent. That's dangerous, of course, but he seems relentless and up to it. For now. He's going to be, through his websites, a force to reckon with.
Famousity is an interesting beast. You cannot undo it. So Breitbart has to parlay his name into something that channels the common sense energy he sees in the Right into something that conveys the ability to see through the information conspiracy. I remember when I moved to NYC and tried to find more intellectual writing and all I heard was about The Nation. I had nowhere to go and it took me 8 years to find it on my own. I too am sick of the Frankfurt School and am not a joiner. Breitbart is aiming to defeat the naysayers and put the Democrat Media Conspiracy on its heels and beat back the Marxist social experiment.
I'm on his side.