THE FEVER DREAMS OF JOHN L. PERRY
Before John L. Perry began his long association with the wingnut site NewsMax, he had a respectable career, including fairly important jobs in journalism and stints in the Johnson and Carter White Houses. But as a NewsMax columnist since 1999, he's been a tad, um, apocalyptic -- and not just in the now-scrubbed column in which he engaged in speculation about a possible military coup against President Obama (cached version here; text here).
It doesn't seem to take much to set Perry off. Here he is writing about a failed Cabinet appointment on January 10, 2001:
If left to stand as is, the savaging of Linda Chavez will mean the crippling and eventual destruction of the entire presidency of George W. Bush.
Oh, if only.
But anything can start an apocalypse in Perry's imagination, including the proverbial Some Guy on the Internet. Here's Perry on January 15, 2001:
Appearing below is the text of what might properly be labeled a Manifesto for the Subversion of America....
It would make Joseph Paul Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's unsurpassed disinformation artist, both proud and envious.
It heralds a gathering sturm of fascism in this nation that goes against everything for which America stands.
The text in question, which we're told is "making the rounds of the Internet," could, admittedly, be read as a wee bit extreme:
"... I will give Bush the same respect and support that his party gave President Clinton these past eight years....
"I will make common cause with any enemies of the United States, foreign or domestic, who are willing to criticize President Bush...."
But if this little screed was, in fact, "making the rounds of the Internet" in a techno-fascist way, all traces of it have been lost except for Perry's own column and one (1) other Google appearance, at the ur-blog The Mote (item #2143 at the link), where it's ascribed to a contributor to Salon's Table Talk with the pseudonym Quentin Compsom. Last time I looked, Quentin and the TT crowd (full disclosure: I did my share of posting at TT) hadn't led a jackbooted overthrow of the government. (UPDATE: It also shows up here, as a letter to The Seattle Times. Oh, and Google also lists the blog post you're reading now.)
Sometimes Perry sees the apocalypse coming from, um somewhere, and even he can't determine the source. But it's out there! Really! And we're in deep, deep trouble! This is from August 21, 2001:
A political crisis is brewing out there, growing nastier by the day, awaiting a catalytic lightning bolt to precipitate the nature and direction it takes....
This nation and its Constitution do indeed face dangers and enemies, both foreign and domestic, as never before....
There is a latent ugliness -- latent but nonetheless real, nonetheless menacing.
It is a witches' brew of apathy, ignorance, misunderstanding, uncertainty, frustration, insecurity, arrogance, resentment, prejudice, bigotry, paranoia, fear, desperation, reaction, vindictiveness, xenophobia and hatred.
Those qualities, self-destructive all, manifest themselves in a number of unwholesome ways – reality-denial, self-indulgence, gullibility, irrationality, scapegoating, racism and violence.
All those traits are fertile ingredients of the hotbeds for demagoguery.
They are almost a textbook case history of Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany and V.I. Lenin's successful revolution in Czarist Russia....
Read the whole thing. It would be amazing if he were predicting 9/11, but he wasn't; he just thought something out there was going to lead to .... DOOOO - OOOO - OOOM!!! But he had no idea what.
Here he is predicting the U.S. loss of Alaska, Hawaii, and Manhattan as the result of a bloodless yet sinister Chinese maneuver called Operation One From Column A (no, really), all because missile defense was voted down in Congress. Here he is imagining societal breakdown in the U.S. after a court decision found that the Pledge of Allegiance violated the separation of church and state, which led tof a mass abandonment of religion:
...This in turn led to the nullification of perjury statutes, there being no longer any oath for holding liars accountable.
That fallen domino tipped over the next: Juries, also no longer oath-bound, were passing out not-guilty verdicts left and right, unable to discern manufactured from authentic testimony.
Felony convictions were appealed in such number that governors in state after state had no recourse but to grant wholesale pardons....
Convicted murderers and rapists were back on the streets doing business at the same old stands....
Oh, and here is he is imagining that, after Afghanistan, the next target in the U.S. war on terror would be ... Kashmir. (Thaty's not apocalyptic. It's just stupid.)
So, yeah, John L. Perry's Obama column seemed part of a dangerous strain of thought. But don't just blame the zeitgeist. Blame whoever hasn't managed to keep Perry adequately medicated.