The Corner

It Never Ends

Readers of my book will recall that I get fairly exasperated with the persistent description of Father Coughlin as a “rightwinger.” For example, I write:

Again and again, Coughlin is referred to as “the right-wing Radio Priest” whom supposedly insightful essayists describe as the ideological grandfather of Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan,  Ann Coulter, and other putative extremists.  But Coughlin was in no meaningful way a conservative or even a right-winger. He was a man of the left in nearly all significant respects.

Well, here’s an excerpt from the May 5 Newsweek cover story on Obama, written by Evan Thomas:

Yet to pockets of America, he still seems to be the “other.” He seems a little strange, exotic; those cracked e-mails whispering about his middle name (Hussein) and declaring, fictitiously, that he is a Muslim who insisted on being sworn into office on the Qur’an rather than the Bible, keep buzzing around the Internet. To some, his manner is haughty; he is a bit of an egghead, one of those pointy-headed intellectuals whom George W. Bush liked to ridicule as a Deke brother at Yale and even later as president of the United States (and, long before him, demagogues like the anti-Semitic right-wing radio priest of the 1940s, Father Charles Coughlin; Red-baiter Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, and race-baiter Gov. George Wallace of Alabama).

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