The Significance of Joe Wilson


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As it turned out, however, Wilson is a man with a rather interesting past. The
last time he made waves was in 2003, after the death of Sen. Strom Thurmond,
when Wilson told The State it was ?unseemly? for Essie Mae Washington-Williams
to reveal that she was the love-child of the deceased centegenarian.
The reason Wilson was asked for his opinion on the Thurmond revelations, and the
reason why he held such a strong view about Strom?s integrity, was that he was
an aide to Thurmond in the 1980s. This is a fascinating example of how, the
further we become removed as a nation from the often poisonous, noxious politics
of Old Right (which saw little wrong in flirting with southern segregationists
or supporting oppressive regimes such as South Africa?s apartheid government),
the extent to which certain aspects of the rejected ideology have seeped into
our political bloodstream becomes clearer. Wilson?s political roots, like those
of many intractable critics of the Obama administration, have been fertilized in
the same soil that gave birth to some of the more shameful episodes of U.S.
history.
Last January, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson came within votes
of becoming the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Dawson, aside
from having to deal with controversy concerning his past membership in an
all-white country club, would publicly speak of how his ideology was formed and
is still shaped by bitterness over school integration: ?I remember how blatant
it was ... that government just thought they knew better what to do in my
school.?
Sarah Palin is perhaps the politician today most emblematic of how the narrative
of the Old Right still scars our national discourse. It?s forgotten now amid the
cavalcade of ridiculous she?s released on the nation, but in 1992 Palin was an
avid supporter of Pat Buchanan, the last great champion of the paleoconservative
cause. And on the campaign trail, Palin would spout quotes from Westbrook
Pegler, a conservative columnist from the middle of the century who, when he
wasn?t waxing poetic about small town folksiness, was penning right-wing
opinions so extreme even the John Birch Society wrote him off as a nut.
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Cliff
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