Vanity Fair: ‘Hail Breitbart’ (and damn The Breitbartians!)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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When he was alive, the mainstream media sought to diminish him. Now that he is dead, the narrative seems to be that nobody on the right is good enough to fill his shoes.

That’s my interpretation, at least, of James Wolcott’s June 2013 Vanity Fair column, titled, “Andrew Breitbart’s Circus Maximus.”

As Wolcott writes,

“[P]ersonality cults are hard to perpetuate after Elvis has left the building. You can imitate tactics, emulate tone and posture, but you can’t inhale animal spirits from your fallen heroes and make them your own. Now that Breitbart’s metabolism is no longer exerting the magnetic force to bind everything together, the rinky-dinkitude of his school of right-wing muckraking is laid bare.”

He continues,

“[C]onservatives are more enslaved by hero worship than liberals are (they have Ronald Reagan bronzed in their brains), and Breitbart’s death leaves a gap in their superhero lineup that I feel confident somebody awful will fill, if only to maintain their morale for the remainder of the Obama presidency and the Hillary regency. It’ll take a zealot with the constitution of a ham actor, and ham actors aren’t made, they’re born.”

There are some elements of truth here. First, Andrew Breitbart was obviously a very special person. Nobody can replace him — and yes, I do suspect that some conservatives are desperately attempting to impersonate him (and falling far short in the process.)

Since Wolcott mentions Reagan, I do see a parallel, albeit not in regards to conservative hero worship. When he was alive, liberals hated Ronald Reagan. But in death, they have grudgingly come to appreciate him (or maybe they just realized co-opting him was easier than the fool’s errand of besmirching his legacy?)

Just as Reagan has become the standard for Republican politicians, I suspect current and future conservative bloggers and activists will be unfavorably compared to the legend.

“He’s no Breitbart,” they will say. “Not as smart. Not as charismatic.”

And they will be right.

Matt K. Lewis