The Right-Wing Conspiracy and Class Warfare Come Out of the Closet : Strategy and History Described by Executive Editor of Governing Magazine During Speech at Neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Think Tank
by James Pyland
On November 3, the Executive Editor of Governing Magazine, Alan Ehrenhalt, gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) entitled, The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and How it Grew.
In his speech, Ehrenhalt discussed the neoconservative efforts to dominate the media, saying, If you're talking about religion, abortion, social issues, sure theres a liberal media elite. However, Ehrenhalt noted, by 1996 I would say the intellectual left had been neutralized on economics and foreign policy .there wasn't much organized support for left positions of any kind. There was a pretty impressive organized right. Some of which is in this room, referring to the attendees of Ehrenhalts speech, part of a series called the AEI Bradley Lecture Series.
The American Enterprise Institute was founded in 1943 and concentrates on promoting free market ideology. It provides a continuous stream of editorials to over 100 newspapers, and its experts appeared on television news programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s, usually without having their conservative free market agendas mentioned on air. Members of the group sometimes identify themselves as Democrats on public affairs shows so that the message to viewers is completely controlled. In one year alone, the Institute published over 40 books and over 400 articles and research papers. The Institute has advocated military operations, such as Reagans attack on Grenada, while it or its members have received grants from for the U.S. Foundation of Peace. The Institute allied with corporate directors from American Cynamid, Dow Chemical, and Chase Manhatten Bank to support the pro-apartheid government of South Africa.
Ehrenhalt said that the Republican Party, and neoconservatives specifically, had learned how to use the white middle class resentment of the Great Society.
Ehrenhalt said that Hillary Clintons phrase vast right-wing conspiracy did not adequately describe the lack of organized support for things he [Bill Clinton] wanted to do.
If she had said, We're up against an elaborate and sophisticated conservative network, I'm not sure that that would have been all that controversial or debatable a statement. It's pretty clear that something exists, Ehrenhalt noted.
Ehrenhalt described the plight of Bill Clinton in terms of the challenges faced by the early neoconservative founders: By 1996 Bill Clinton was sounding like Paul [Weyrich] sounded in the early 1970s: We don't have the intellectual fire power and we don't have the people writing the papers and giving the speeches and doing the lobbying.
Paul Weyrich is a neoconservative activist who founded the Heritage Foundation with funding provided by the Adolph Coors Foundation. In John Solomas 1984 book, Ominous Politics, Weyrich is quoted as saying, We are different from previous generations of conservatives We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country. Weyrich also once wrote in a 1987 Washington Post article: If we are going to be a serious nation, we need a serious system for selecting our leaders and advisors. We need some type of shadow government, in which leaders and top advisors can be identified and developed .
The Heritage Foundation produced Ronald Reagans Mandate for Leadership, and has produced over 1000 policy publications, and has aggressively lobbied to roll back New Deal initiatives. The organization has campaigned for the privatization of federal highways, social security, the postal system, and the elimination of funding for special education programs. It provided over 5,000 resumes of hard-right candidates for government office in the Reagan and Bush administrations. The group has also recommended covert military actions against communist insurgents in nine foreign countries.
Ehrenhalt discussed the Reagan presidencys success at joining the big business elites and the fundamentalist right through the rhetoric of anti-communism. These people only had one thing in common. They hate communists. That's what they had in common. What would they ever do without the communists?
It was not known at that time that the Baathist Party could be used as an effective substitute.
But in 1992 we found out what happened when there were no communists. Republicans fight with each other, and they lost the election.
Ehrenhalt discussed the emergence of the aggressive right-wing, populist voice during the Clinton era, saying, One other crucial development of the mid-1990s that a lot of you probably know more about than I do is the emergence of what I would call the "republican megaphone": talk shows, think tanks.
In addition to saturating television, radio and newspapers with the neoconservative agenda, the last decade also saw efforts to destroy left-liberal political organizations. The Wall Street Journal called the campaigns A G.O.P. effort to cripple advocacy groups with whom they [party leaders] have ideological differences. Contract with America strategist Grover Norquist was even more direct, saying, We will hunt [these liberal groups] down one by one and extinguish their funding sources.
Near the end of his speech, Ehrenhalt speculated on methods that Democrats might use to attack the Bush presidency. I wonder if next year well get people talking about Iraq, Enron, and arrogance?
Ehrenhalts speech may be found at:
Also see People for the American Ways report, Buying a Movement,
An excellent source for anti-right information is at
James Pyland firstname.lastname@example.org is an emerging activist who lives and (still) works in Houston, Texas