This week, they didn’t come any nuttier than Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and the right-wing pundits and politicians who rushed to support his “range war” against the federal government. Revolution was almost nigh, until Bundy shot off his mouth.
It’s hard to blame right-wingers on this one.
Cliven Bundy spun quite a yarn
It was the perfect story. An aging cowboy stands against government bureaucrats kidnap his cattle and demand he didn’t pay them over $1 million. No wonder wingnuts stampeded to Bundy’s ranch in Mesquite, Nevada.
- Armed militia members confronted Bureau of Land Management Agents.
- Sean Hannity led right-wing pundits in whipping making Cliven Bundy a star, and turning his desert dustup into the next “Waco” or “Ruby Ridge.”
- Sen. Rand Paul (R Kentucky) defended Bundy’s lawless actions.
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R – Texas) called the standoff between government agents and militia members,” the “unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government upon.”
- Fox News pundit Todd Starnes accused the government of a “jihad” against Bundy.
- Former House GOP leader Tom Delay praised “Americans picking up arms in Nevada because of government tyranny,” and called for House Republicans to cut off funding to the White House.
- WorldNet Daily columnist Erik Rush warned of a federal plot to put Bundy in a “FEMA camp” and take control of the food supply.
Of course, none of it was true. KLAS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, Nevada, did something right wingers didn’t bother to: vet Bundy’s story. There was no lease with the county, going back 130 years. Bundy’s parents bought the land in 1948 — two years after the birth of both Cliven Bundy and the BLM, in 1946 — and didn’t start grazing cattle on the land until 1954.
None of that mattered. Then Bundy, in an interview with New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney, questioned whether African-Americans were “better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy.”
Suddenly, the wheels fell off. Conservatives on Twitter defended Bundy, demanded video proof, and they got it.
He said he would continue holding a daily news conference; on Saturday, it drew one reporter and one photographer, so Mr. Bundy used the time to officiate at what was in effect a town meeting with supporters, discussing, in a long, loping discourse, the prevalence of abortion, the abuses of welfare and his views on race.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Bundy claimed his comments were taken out of context, demanded the Times retract an apparently accurate quote, defended his views in a rambling press conference, and repeated his remarks.
It wasn’t exactly a shining moment for the right. Not to worry, though. There’s always a black conservative around to set things right. In this case, Alan Keyes told WorldNet Daily that Bundy’s remarks weren’t racist at all and that the real racists were (wait for it) on the left.
Does wingnuttia get better, or worse, than this?