The Left’s Whackjob Problem—and Ours

Supporters listen to a speech from Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during his campaign rally at the Legends Event Center on December 20, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

Hi,

While trying to figure out what to write about today, I found an interesting Christmas Day tweet in my bookmarks folder (When discussing Twitter, FYI, the X is silent):

There should be a name for people like Taylor Lorenz and Shaun King where right-wingers figure out they’re crazy really early on, liberals get negatively polarized into defending them, and then they start acting so insane that the libs have to admit the conservatives were right.

The author of this observation, Swann Marcus, makes a useful point, which strikes glancing blows at several others. 

Lorenz and King are good examples of what he’s primarily talking about. I’m not going to dwell on either of them. But Lorenz was the subject of much scorn recently because of a little Covid-related tirade she went on about the “social murder of disabled people just because it’s ‘the holidays.’” Lorenz says she’s immunocompromised and I have no desire to criticize her frustrations, real or imagined, that come with her condition. I do think dunking on your family about it on Twitter is a debatable judgment call. Shaun King is also a piece of work, most recently garnering attention for falsely claiming that he’s been working behind the scenes to free Israeli hostages while simultaneously cheerleading for Hamas. 

There are other leftwing figures who fit this category. Rebekah Jones was obviously a fabulist from very early on. My friend Charlie Cooke was sort of a reverse Jack McGee on this beat. McGee was the character from the old Incredible Hulk TV series who was obsessed with proving the green behemoth was real. Meanwhile Charlie was determined to demonstrate that Jones was a fake. The mainstream media disregarded Charlie’s warnings, citing her as an expert, a whistleblower, and champion of “science,” long after it was obvious on the right that she was a hyperpartisan and paranoid crank. (When her son was taken into custody for threatening to shoot up a school, Jones insisted that the family had been targeted by Ron DeSantis as political retaliation). 

This could actually be a fun parlor game (feel free to add your own in the comments). Name a nutjob, grifter, or craven opportunist spotted early by the right that the left either embraced from the get-go, or doubled-down on precisely because the right criticized them. Michael Avenatti, Jussie Smollett, Scott Ritter, and Naomi Wolf come immediately to mind.

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