Transcript: Thom talks to Max Blumenthal, author of "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party", 28 September 2009
Thom Hartmann: And welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you, the third hour of our program and I’m very, very pleased to have in the studio with me, and you can see it live if you go over to ThomHartmann.com and click on our ThomVision, our video and we’ll get this up on YouTube a little later on. Uh, Max Blumenthal, the best selling author of his new book, “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party.” He’s also a senior writer for the Daily Beast and a writing fellow for the Nation Institute, his website MaxBlumenthal.com and by the way if you’re listening on AM620, KPOJ in Portland, Oregon, Max tonight will be at 7:30 at the Burnside location of Powell’s books and that should be quite a gig. Max welcome to the show.
Max Blumenthal: Great to be with you.
Thom Hartmann: Great to have you here with us. One of the, Republican Gomorrah, I mean, it really, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, it really is Gomorrah, one of the most amazing stories for me in your book was how the Republican Party reached out to a, a serial killer, an actual serial killer, a man who murdered over 30 women, it’s estimated, and moved him up through the Party. Tell the story.
Max Blumenthal: It’s possibly 130 women.
Thom Hartmann: Seriously?
Max Blumenthal: The Republican Party didn’t actually, we’re talking about Ted Bundy, the worst serial killer in American history. The Republican Party didn’t really reach out to Ted Bundy. Before he was a serial killer he was a top Republican operative in the Washington State Republican Party, he was the personal driver to Republican governor Dan Evans. He was a moderate. And he wore disguises to slip into his opponents' rallies and take film of his opponent that wound up devastating Alberto Rosellini for Dan Evans' campaigns, and he wore those same disguises to kill women. And what happened was where Bundy comes into my book, "Republican Gomorrah", is when he’s on death row, he’s converted by James Dobson into a poster child for the anti-pornography movement and the born again Christian and he gives Dobson this exclusive interview, on death row, that none of the other media could get, which vaulted Dobson into the national conscience and introduced him to the American public.
Thom Hartmann: So, senior Republican operative, Ted Bundy, becomes a serial killer, and once he becomes a serial killer, James Dobson visits him in prison, does this special interview. And Dobson was then, if I read this right in your book, Dobson was actually making money, over a million bucks, the interview became Dobson’s cash cow, you write; selling the Bundy tapes reaped a windfall profit of nearly a million bucks, and that Dobson initially stuck it in his own pocket.
Max Blumenthal: Right. And so Dobson, you know, controversy ensued. Dobson got in trouble for this because he’s exploiting a serial killer’s last confession, which was a false and baseless confession, that images from Playboy Magazine fueled his killing spree.
Thom Hartmann: Right, when in fact he was a sociopathic mass murder.
Max Blumenthal: Who was abused as a child as Dobson was. Abused according to many of the techniques Dobson advocated in his book “Dare to Discipline.” Um and so Dobson donated that million dollars to what he called charities which were actually anti-abortion groups affiliated with his political empire. But through Bundy Dobson became a national figure and he moved on to converting members of the Republican congress using the same techniques he used to convert Bundy and exploit Bundy’s confession for political gain.
Thom Hartmann: Amazing, amazing. Max Blumenthal is with us. His new bestselling book, “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party.” MaxBlumenthal.com, of course his website. Roy Cohn, the famous number two guy to Joe McCarthy, as I recall. Do I have that right, to Joe McCarthy?
Max Blumenthal: Yeah.
Thom Hartmann: Joe McCarthy. Roy Cohn, Republican operative Roger Stone says, “Roy Cohn wasn’t gay! He just liked having sex with men! Gays are weak and effeminate and they always seem to have these blond young boys around. It just wasn’t discussed. He was interested in power and excess.” But Cohn became a mentor, you write, to Stone, to Roger Stone, teaching him the hardball tactics that he used to help Reagan sabotage George Herbert Walker Bush’s attempt to become President in 1980.
Max Blumenthal: Right. And Roy Cohn of course was the vitriolic personal council to Joseph McCarthy who ended up dying of AIDS, although he said it was liver cancer, disease.
Thom Hartmann: Cohn did.
Max Blumenthal: Right, Cohn did. And he trained Roger Stone in these hardball tactics. Roger Stone is a libertine. I wouldn’t say he’s a libertarian, he’s a libertine. Which means he has no boundaries on his sexual peccadillos and he’s deeply involved in this sexual underworld in Miami. He’s also a famous Republican operative and he’s very connected in Washington. So he used his connections in the Miami sexual underworld, in the swinger clubs in Miami, to investigate Eliot Spitzer, cos he'd been hearing…
Thom Hartmann: Right, he brought down Eliot Spitzer.
Max Blumenthal: He had been hearing that Eliot Spitzer had been diddling around with some prostitutes who he knew through his connections in this sexual underworld, so he told some of his Republican connections including, I think, Michael Garcia, who is the District Attorney in New York, and uh, arranged a sting through some of his friends, like Charles Grasso on Wall Street, who Eliot Spitzer had taken out. And they wound up conspiring to take down Spitzer and succeeding, because they caught him red handed. But it was through this Republican Gomorrah, that Eliot Spitzer wound up meeting his coup de gras...
Thom Hartmann: We’re talking with Max Blumenthal, his new book...
Max Blumenthal: ...grace...
Thom Hartmann: Coup de gras, however, whatever.
Max Blumenthal: ...that would be foie gras.
Thom Hartmann: Right. “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party.” You have Sarah Palin in your book, I’m looking on page 298. The unnamed author whom Palin quoted was Westbrook Pegler. And Todd and Sarah, Gomorrah, just before that you get into Phyllis Schlafly, that certainly makes a certain amount of sense. What’s the story here?
Max Blumenthal: Well, where to begin?
Thom Hartmann: How does Sarah Palin fit into "Republican Gomorrah"?
Max Blumenthal: Well Sarah Palin, besides subscribing to a really radical theology called the Third Wave, which was popular in the Pentecostal Church even though it’s been denounced by the official body of the Pentecostal Church, the assemblies of God as being Neo-Pagan. Which I went up to Alaska to investigate a year ago, attending Sarah Palin’s church, seeing a self proclaimed witch hunter named Bishop Thomas Muthee who had anointed Sarah Palin in 2005 in a public ceremony against the spirit of witchcraft. Seeing him speak returned to Palin’s church while she was on the campaign trail, to preach about her as Queen Esther, the beauty queen from the Bible who used her wiles to intercede for her people.
Besides that Sarah Palin is the archetype of the right wing woman. I mean she was, she may have been mocked by the secular media and by us for advocating abstinence while she had a 16 year old daughter who was pregnant. But so many people in the Christian right, in the Republican base, especially women, are going through these struggles. If you look at the facts on the ground in Palin country, like in Lubbock, Texas where abstinence education has been mandated in public schools since 1996, but gonorrhea infections among adolescent women are twice the national average, you can see why people that identify with Palin and why she was able to mobilize them in a way that was visceral, that transcended ideas, that transcended politics.
Thom Hartmann: It always seemed to me that she actually believed that God had anointed her to be a great leader of this nation.
Max Blumenthal: Absolutely.
Thom Hartmann: That part of her was not phony.
Max Blumenthal: Absolutely. I mean she credited Muthee at a subsequent ceremony at her church, where he anointed her, with helping propel her into the governorship with this anointing ceremony. She calls herself a prayer warrior. She says she’s wired for the mission.
Thom Hartmann: She’s quite serious about this stuff. I’m curious, we have about a minute and a half left. We’re talking with Max Blumenthal, his new book, new bestselling book, “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party” and it’s an amazing read. And Max Blumenthal, what was the most surprising thing that you uncovered when you were writing this book?
Max Blumenthal: Well, writing this book was really an adventure for me, even though I was compiling six years of reporting and research, I learned so many new things while I was writing it. Um, I can’t really pinpoint one thing, but there was a letter I found that Dwight Eisenhower wrote that I thought was really remarkable, and I thought it was a warning against the rise of the radical right in the Republican Party that he had issued in 1959 that it was completely undiscovered.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, and he referenced Eric Hoffer’s book, “The True Believer.”
Max Blumenthal: He referenced Hoffer’s book, “The True Believer,” and Hoffer said in that book that faith in a holy cause is really a substitute for lost faith in ourselves. Eisenhower believed that the radical right, the John Birch society which was attacking him, the groups that, you know, were the predecessors of the groups we saw on 9/12 on the national mall, were populated by people who could not handle what he called the "mental stress and burden" which democracy imposes. And that’s really the central idea behind my book, that behind the right’s, radical right's politics of resentment, the histrionics, is a culture of personal crisis, an anxiety among people who can’t handle the stress of real freedom, individual will. Not the false freedom that they talk about which is really the the freedom to exploit, but real freedom, which is the freedom to rely on your own individual will in a democratic society.
Thom Hartmann: There you go. Max Blumenthal, a brilliant book. “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party.” Get it, read it, this is a fascinating, fascinating insight into what happened. Max, thanks so much for being with us today.
Max Blumenthal: Thanks for having me on, Thom.
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.