A Whiner Called David Horowitz Moans at Sid Blumenthal and Imagined CIA Slur; A Commie Called Graydon Carter; What Chavez Said to Lula
by Alexander Cockburn
June 2, 2003
Merely from the whines and howls of his numerous enemies on the right, you can tell that Sid Blumenthal has drawn blood in his book The Clinton Wars, many pages of which are spent detailing what his pal Hillary Clinton famously referred to as "a vast right-wing conspiracy". It's an awfully long book, but the chapters that I have thus far worked my way through do make a pretty good case in buttressing HRC's claim about a right-wing conspiracy, although it was scarcely vast, consisting of about 10 prime players. Of course, from our point of view a far vaster rightwing conspiracy is represented these days by HRC herself. Blumenthal's chapter on the Hitchens affair is vivid too on the latter's disgusting behavior.
Mind you, it makes me laugh when people talk about Blumenthal and his killer instincts. He always struck me as more in line with Bertie Wooster's descriptions of the sheep-like Gussie Fink-Nottle.
Prime among the whiners and howlers is David Horowitz who lashes out at "Sid Vicious", saying the guy has been beastly to him every since Horowitz and Collier staged a "Second Thoughts" conference in Washington in the fall of 1987, designed as a sort of ideological hospice for renegades in the same stage of transition from left to right as themselves. Horowitz charges that it was Blumenthal who urged left wing assailants such as myself to attend and then to deride the proceedings in print.
I can't speak for the others, but in my case Horowitz has it all wrong. I was visiting Washington and had better things to do with my time than go to the Second Thoughts affair but got dragged along by Hitchens. When I entered the hall Horowitz was delivering the keynote, and was visibly nonplussed at the sight of potential hecklers. He lost his train of thought, rambled inconsequentially, then plunged back into his childhood, recalling the upbringing of his sister and himself in a Communist family, where as so often happened the children observed and resented the long hours their parents spent away from them, doing "party work".
"My sister will never forgive them," Horowitz wailed to the audience of some 200, then depicted the abyss of his own deprivation. He had never been allowed to go to Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies, but rather was forced to sit through uplifting Soviet features.
If only he'd been allowed to watch Pillow Talk ... And of course, among the ironies is that Horowitz and Hitchens are now ideological bedfellows.
Horowitz mentions what he calls Blumenthal's "vindictive" libel suit against Matt Drudge, who had published the indubitably libelous charge, which he was unable to sustain, that Blumenthal was a wife-beater. Blumenthal sued. Then Horowitz continues,
"I have myself once or twice used the threat of a suit to deter particularly scurrilous charges and to avoid the kind of damage that libel suits were made for. Alex Cockburn, for example, spent a lot of time at cocktail parties in the 1980s spreading the rumor that I was a CIA agent. In fact, I have never had contact with a CIA official or operative to my knowledge, or worked for any government agency or -- with three exceptions -- any outside employer for that matter."
Now, it's true that in May of 1989 Horowitz did send me a letter accusing me of making "false and malicious statements" but it had nothing to do with the CIA. I can imagine the Agency being capable of almost any infamy or folly, except that of hiring Horowitz as an agent.
It's curious that Horowitz should have misrepresented, or misremembered why he was jumpy enough to threaten legal action. If he looks in his files, or glances at page 101 of his copy of my 1995 book The Golden Age is In Us he'll find that he sent me the following letter:
"Dear Alexander Cockburn, It was come to my attention that you have been making false and malicious statements about my interviews with the late David Kennedy. I have consulted counsel about this matter and advise you to stop doing this. I am sending this letter to you to serve notice to you that if you intend to publish this, you and your publisher do so at your peril. Sincerely, David Horowitz, Los Angeles."
Nothing here, as you can see, about the CIA. So far as I can recall, Horowitz had formed the impression that I had repeated a story going the rounds at the time among friends of the Kennedy clan that this same clan entertained a particular loathing for Horowitz and Collier on the grounds that while researching their book on the Kennedys they had helped satiate David Kennedy's craving for drugs, in return for inside stories about the Kennedys. An obviously outrageous and baseless charge, as I'm sure all will agree.
It can't be said that Horowitz draws much blood on his attacks on Blumenthal. In fact his onslaught ends up as an intentional testimonial to Blumenthal's accuracy. For example, Horowitz quotes the following passage from Blumenthal's book, and then offers his own commentary in what is intended as rebuttal:
Blumenthal: 'In July, the Ledeens' testimony yielded the information that they had arranged through a friend, David Horowitz, for Drudge's defense to be paid for and handled.'
Horowitz: 'It is true that Barbara Ledeen called me and said, "You have to help Matt Drudge," whom I had never met. As Barbara and many other people knew, I had created an "Individual Rights Foundation" which mainly fought speech codes on college campuses, but also defended a liberal feminist under attack from the politically correct left and filed an amicus brief for a leftwing racist, Leonard Jeffries, because he was fired for making a public speech (a violation of his First Amendment rights).
'I had no other conversations with Barbara or any other member of Sidney's conspiracies about the legal defense of Matt Drudge. Following Barbara's phone call, I had a lunch with Matt Drudge and persuaded him he needed a lawyer. I then set up a meeting with Drudge and my lawyer for the IRF, whom he took on as his counsel. I then created a "defense fund" which raised money through direct mail and Internet appeals to pay the lawyers' fee. The Ledeens had no hand in these matters whatsoever.'
Seems to me this is confirmation that Blumenthal had it right.
In the June Vanity Fair with homely young Drew Barrymore on the cover there's an editorial by Graydon Carter that we would have been happy to publish on the CounterPunch site: a spirited attack on the Bush crowd for the war on Iraq, plus many sarcasms about the missing WMDs, then a furious attack on the same Bush crowd for its brutish assaults on the Bill of Rights and its regressive economic policies. If Carter keeps this up, will Hitchens resign in protest , same way as he quit the Nation?
No, he won't. Too much gravy on that train.
"Your tragedy is that no one will ever mount a coup against you."
Alexander Cockburn is the author The Golden Age is In Us (Verso, 1995) and 5 Days That Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond (Verso, 2000) with Jeffrey St. Clair. Cockburn and St. Clair are the editors of CounterPunch, the nationís best political newsletter, where this article first appeared.