How Conservatives Govern

My Q and A with Tom Frank about his new book is up here:

There's also this projection issue you return to often. You argue there are these conservative conspiracy fantasies that liberals use the power of the state to push their agenda, which is largely overblown. But then when they get into power they themselves play out these misaligned conspiracy theories.

Yeah, there are numerous examples of this. The one that blew my mind: I was reading this novel from the early eighties called The Spike written by a very conservative editor from the Washington Times [Arnaud de Borchgrave]. It was one of the books Abramoff sent out to College Republican chapters. It was a huge bestseller. And the idea of the novel is that there’s this huge international conspiracy that controls America through the news and public opinion. The KGB is the grand puppetmaster, but the local puppetmaster in Washington is a liberal think tank. They tell the senators what to do and they pull the strings on everything. And the funny thing is, I think they had to change some of the language for the book in the paperback edition because the picture they drew was really close to the Institute for Policy Studies, which, you know, was very liberal. Anyhow, if you read the conservative literature from the period they all think IPS was a communist front group and they thought the people who worked there were incredibly sinister. They would try to infiltrate their meetings.

I read this book and then later I was reading about Jack Abramoff’s career working for a think tank; he founded a think tank called the International Freedom Foundation. And I’ll be dammed, the think tank wasn’t actually a front for another country’s military intelligence. And the country was apartheid South Africa. It’s like he took this thing that was in fiction and they did it in reality! By the way—you know what the slogan of the KGB was? “The sword and shield of the revolution.” Abramoff liked to call himself “the sword and shield of the Reagan Revolution.”

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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