Monday, February 21, 2005

Damn, I do wonder what drove Hunter Thompson to this.

It's quite possible that we were naive to think of all that substance abuse as bacchanalian -- he may have been just another depressive who was self-medicating. Was his health failing him? Was money slipping through his fingers? A bullet to the head seems like a Thompsonian grand gesture, but I have to admit I thought he'd want to live as long as possible, because that'd show the bastards.

Alas, the scoundrels who run the country now are far worse than the ones Thompson railed against in his prime. But I wonder if he failed to vanquish his foes or if his foes merely took his weapon and turned it on him. Recall that the current Scoundrel-in-Chief is a guy who, as Bill Minutaglio noted in First Son, once leapt on stage in the mid-seventies and sang, uninvited and surely unwelcome, behind Willie Nelson. Is that just a big night out for a small-minded Texas shitkicker narcissist, the kind of thing that would have repulsed Thompson? Or is it, well, gonzo?

Sometimes it seems that all the gonzo is now on the right, and it's a much nastier strain. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are gonzo; the bourgeois rioters of Florida 2000 had a little gonzo in them. It occurs to me that you can go from Hunter Thompson to Ann Coulter in two moves (via P.J. O'Rourke).

Maybe that's not surprising. In the end, a lot of what Thompson wrote about was just pure individualism -- thwarting enemies you regard as vermin, getting away with as much as possible, not giving a shit about hurt feelings. That's a fairly good capsule description of what the Right stands for now, albeit with a different enemies list.

So it's sad that Thompson's gone, but I'm afraid it's not altogether surprising that a commenter at one blog could write, "He was definitely a moonbat politically, and as for his psychological problems, well, I’m not all that surprised by this development, but reading 'Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail' in Rolling Stone is seared, seared into my memory," or that Thompson is praised by this self-described purveyor of "hardcore conservative commentary," or by Blogs for Bush.

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