Did I screw up big time over the weekend when I said I'd found political contributions to the RNC by Donald Sterling? Sure I did. Did I make Donald Douglas's weekend? Yeah, you bet.
But I was closer to the truth than Douglas was when he was shrieking that Sterling is a Democrat -- we now know that Sterling has been a registered Republican for at least sixteen years.
I wouldn't care what a blowhard like Douglas thinks if his over-the-top propaganda didn't achieve wide circulation on the right. The problem with Douglas is that supposedly serious people actually take his cranked-past-11 rhetoric seriously. This is the modern right's biggest problem in microcosm.
We had this over the weekend in a National Review post originally titled "Racist Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Is a Democrat":
At the American Power blog, Donald Douglas has an extended discussion of Sterling's donations to liberal causes and the left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past.Actually, that's not what's in Douglas's post -- that's what he says is in it, but the content doesn't match the description. Douglas quotes a deeply skeptical article about Sterling from the L.A. Times, an opinion piece by Earl Ofari Hutchinson urging the NAACP not to give Sterling an award, and a Sports Illustrated story that finds Sterling throwing lavish parties and stiffing a charity. There are no "left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past." And Douglas's post doesn't list Sterling's donations to liberal causes, apart from the references to the NAACP -- the SI story tells us,
[Sterling] also enjoys the publicity he's received as a philanthropist. Southern California charities routinely fete Sterling as their Humanitarian of the Year. Since 1997, the title has been accorded him by the Vista Del Mar Orphanage, the Special Olympics, the Los Angeles Yeshiva, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and the L.A. Police Historical Society.The L.A. Police Historical Society? The Special Olympics? Liberal?
The charities listed in the L.A. Times article include a couple of inner-city schools, as well as an organization called Para Los Ninos that has investment bankers and white-shoe lawyers on its board. And wait -- it's now liberal to give money to poor schools? I thought private charity was the only kind of additional aid right-wingers thought was appropriate for those schools (in the absence of tax-funded vouchers, of course).
I think the National Review blogger, Tim Cavanaugh, believes he was reading "an extended discussion of Sterling's donations to liberal causes and the left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past" because Douglas embeds his quotes in a thick sludge of demagogic bombast that says that's what we're reading, which it isn't, while also telling us that Sterling is the quintessential lefty Dem, even though he obviously isn't. A taste of that demagoguery:
I say it all the time: the Democrat Party is the country's natural home to racists and ethnic eliminationists. And now we have über liberal real estate mogul and sports owner, Democrat Party contributor and philanthropist, Donald T. Sterling in the news with yet another case of vile leftist racial hatred....It's fine if Douglas wants to write like this -- this is a free country. But supposedly serious people should not be treating this kind of hyperbolic, rube-gulling nonsense as credible.
Of course! Sterling's a liberal leftist Democrat of the first order!
... Sterling's far-left racist bigotry has been on the public record for a long time.
... the Clippers owner indeed has a long history of philanthropy for a litany of left-wing causes. Sports Illustrated, back in 2000, ran a major feature story on Sterling, critical of his success as an NBA owner but highlighting his liberal philanthropy....
Again, this is just one more case of leftist racism and bigotry....
Modern right-wingers actually believe their own distortions of reality. Donald Sterling in't just a bigot who gave a couple of donations to Democrats more than a decade ago -- he's the epitome of the "Democrat" Party! Barack Obama isn't just a somewhat greater believer in government than the average Republican -- he's a card-carrying communist, ideologically indistinguishable from Karl Marx! And so on. The pumped-up nonsense uttered to rev up the base is treated as literal fact. It's group hysteria.
From Douglas to Douglas's retransmitters, the message makes its way to Rush Limbaugh:
Look, this Donald Sterling business, I have to tell you something, folks, this is not news to anybody who has known of this guy. I was telling Mr. Snerdley this morning, this guy's a big Democrat. The only reason he's in trouble right now is he did not give enough money to Obama. This guy was gonna get a leadership award from the NAALCP LA chapter, the second one. This guy is a typical Hollywood Democrat.How dos a country function when it has two major parties, and one is built on mass delusion?