When the audience gathered for a Book TV discussion of Jonah Goldberg’s new book, “Proud to be Right,” they got more than your average CSPAN fare.
It turns out panelists Todd Seavey and Helen Rittelmeyer, both contributors to Goldberg’s collection of essays by the next generation of conservatives, had dated at some point before appearing on this panel together. Seavey clearly had some unresolved issues with the break-up and decided to take them out on Rittelmeyer during the event, which was being televised on CSPAN2. The result is the wonkiest, nerdiest Internet revenge ever. Here is Seavey’s bizarre soliloquy, punctuated by a surprised Rittelmeyer’s short responses. Seavey’s attack starts in earnest at about 1:45.
Seavey: “I think you’ll find a lot of Helen’s positions are guided by the desire to increase suffering.”
Rittelmeyer: “I’m Catholic.”
Seavey: “That might explain it. Although, you start connecting the dots and you realize that, though she sounds like an old-timey, old-fashioned Catholic moralist, she’s almost always defending something that most of us you find horrific, whether it’s corrupt politicians over reformers, bar brawlers. She’ll defend Catholic moralists one moment, but defend prostitutes and bad girls the next.
She says she’s sort of like a libertarian, but the first thing she wants to repeal, she once said, was the law against assault, so that men get into more fistfights or at least live under the threat of constant fistfights…
I probably should confess that Helen and I dated for two years, so we’ve sparred about many things. It might come as a surprise to some of you that we dated for two years, not just because we have ideological differences, but because there are probably some people in this room who also dated Helen during those two years, given how tumultuous it got. It was sort of on again, off again.
Rittelmeyer: “I’m in favor of combativeness.”
Seavey: “And, at at times her gamesmanship would include even coldly saying that she was gonna play matchmaker and set up a couple and then seduce the man away to play with his mind and hurt the woman, which when you think about it is pretty creepy. Kinda disturbing.
Rittelmeyer: “Is all this going on CSPAN?”
Seavey: “I believe five months later, she made good on this somewhat disturbing promise.”
Jonah Goldberg: “Okaaaay.”
The end of the clip takes off Rittelmeyer’s response, beyond the shaking of her head and “crazy” signals she gave the audience while Seavey was talking, but I found her response in the full video, here. Seavey finally asks her what behavior she thinks is out of bounds.
Rittelmeyer: “Off the top of my head, spilling your heart on CSPAN?”
Good answer. I contacted Rittelmeyer for a comment, but have not heard back from her. (Full disclosure: Rittelmeyer worked for The Daily Caller for a short time before its launch.)
Update: Rittelmeyer e-mailed me with a response as calm and collected as her response in the video clip:
I wish I could say it was all a plan hatched by our new-media consultant, who told us we had to “think outside the box” to make our C-Span panel “go viral,” but no, it is exactly what it looks like.
As a matter of policy, I don’t comment on my personal life in public, but I will clarify that his tirade thoroughly mischaracterizes my political views. For instance, I do not believe that laws against assault should be repealed — nor do I think there should be an exception in cases when one’s ex-boyfriend behaves unacceptably on national television, though I admit that’s a tougher question. Nor do I oppose Obamacare for the contorted reason he states — I oppose it for the usual reasons.
Update: Todd Seavey responds via e-mail, also in the same vein as his panel performance:
Was Helen just lying when she previously said she wanted to legalize assault and opposed Obamacare because the state shouldn’t ameliorate suffering? It’s entirely possible. Helen often lies (and as she well knows can always plead “irony” if someone catches her, which is why her favorite Catholic is Oscar Wilde — or so she says, anyway). I’m not going to waste any more time trying to sort it out, though.
And, because one attempt at Internet embarrassment deserves another, I’m adding a link to Seavey’s archived, highly detailed, bitter and entertaining personal ad from 2007.
Oh, but one last thing — and this is very important. Are you the sort of person who says “yes” when asked to do something with a fella, regardless of whether you actually want to go out, then simply keeps rescheduling instead of definitively and finally canceling the date or saying no? Do you do this despite having attained the age of legal adulthood? Do you tell yourself that you’re nonetheless a moral person — even the hero in life’s little narrative — because, each and every time you rescheduled and feigned enthusiasm for getting together “first thing next week” (or maybe even later that very night if you’re a particularly brazen and skilled actress), you thought, “I’m faced with an awkward moment, so I’ll just keep turning it into a positive one, for the time being, by lying…over and over again! That’s the thing to do!”
I don’t really care if you vow never to do this to me — that isn’t good enough. If you’ve ever done this to anyone — wasting not only your time and the fella’s but the time of all the other people whose schedules were disrupted by your lies, from restaurant staffs dealing with canceled reservations to other people who might have met with the fella on the nights blocked out for your illusory outings — you are, I am afraid, a terrible, selfish fiend of a human being, and I really don’t want you as a friend, let alone a date or girlfriend. Yes, that’s right — you are evil. How does it feel — the evil, I mean? Bet you thought being a Hitler or a Jack the Ripper would feel a lot different than being you. But it doesn’t. You’re living the being-evil experience. Please live it without me, though.
I don’t care if you’ve been declared by numerous glossy magazines to be the most beautiful woman not only of our era but of all time. I don’t care if your intellect is so vastly superior to my own that mere moments of conversation with you would fill me with awe and wonder. You are still, as noted above, an immoral, inconsiderate fiend. I can do better, thanks. And when I say “do better,” I don’t even mean that there’s necessarily a woman on the planet above this sort of time-wasting, juvenile behavior. Maybe there isn’t — but I would still be doing better, you see, by living out the rest of my days alone than by dating you. So please, please — please! — if you lack ethics, stay very, very far away. And while you’re there (far away, that is), think about what went wrong in your upbringing, your genetics, or the culture at large to turn you into the monster you have become. It’s dealing with jerks like you that inspires serial killers and misanthropes, you know. Can you really blame them?
Non-monster lady, on the other hand, if you’re out there, drop me a line. If you’re smart, you know how necessary this personal ad’s various complaints are and won’t be put off by them. If you’re not smart, well, a universe of singles bars and online dating sites awaits you, so go to it, missy, and good luck!