Note: this appeared in the “Life, Under Construction” newsletter on Monday, February 5, and in The Bulwark “Morning Shots” newsletter written by Charlie Sykes on February 6.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
Macbeth Act V, scene v

Dear Readers,

Forgive me if I yawn. I stayed up late last night watching Christopher Hitchens debate William F. Buckley.

I needed to restore some brain cells. One of the Republican Party’s most popular after-dinner speakers, Candace Owens, announced on Monster X (formerly Twitter), “I will tell you that I am a big believer that Hollywood was created by the CIA. I believe that.”

“When I think of all the societal ills and how they artificially place people at the top of Hollywood, preaching toxic principles, routinely anti-family principles, definitively Satanic principles, should make you pause and wonder why is that?” Owens said. “Why is that? Why is it that they reject someone like Russell Brand when he is coming up and recognizing that faith and family is turning him into a good person. And yet, adore individuals as they’re deep in their addictions. I’m going to leave you guys with that thought.”

So the CIA, founded in 1947, used the power of Satan to found Hollywood in 1853 and build the first movie studio in 1911 just to promote addicts until they die, like Matthew Perry, and reject Russell Brand in 2024.

Got it.

This is not the first, or the dumbest, dumb thing Owens has said. Not even recently. Just ask Candace Owens about the Israel and Hamas conflict or the history of Ukraine.

Subscribe to the “Life, Under Construction” newsletter.

Owens once claimed the “Ministry of Truth” was in the Harry Potter novels. She said Hitler was only bad because he tried exporting National Socialism. We’re not exactly talking public intellectual here.

The real challenge is trying to decide who is dumber: Owens or the idiots at The DailyWire who hired her and now can’t fire her. The best part of this spat was when Charlie Kirk defended Owens. No, wait, it was when Owens said she couldn’t respond to Ben Shapiro’s criticisms of her, “on a level of intellect.”

If Owens ever does find herself without gainful employment, don’t feel too bad for her. She’ll just spend more time on the lecture circuit where she makes $50,000 to $100,000 per speech. She gets paid more if you expect her to use polysyllabic words, and then it’s your responsibility to explain to her what “polysyllabic” means.

Despite her intellectual shortcomings, Owens is a favorite of Republican organizations for providing dinner entertainment. Part of her appeal, undeniably, is that Republicans like to have African American speakers at their events to prove that they’re not racist. Part of her appeal is that her mere presence at these events is an “in-your-face” to the “mainstream media” and the culture at large that finds Owens contemptible.

Mostly, there’s the chance that your organization could be the sponsoring organization when Owens says something completely bonkers. The frisson of excitement generated by the possibility that Owens could say something racist, sexist, homophobic, or even just plain fascist, helps sells the tickets necessary to pay for her appearance. Oh, what fun.

Such excitement was once limited to the likes of Lenny Bruce. Would he get arrested? then it was Sam Kinison or Andrew Dice Clay, but they were comedians and therefore unfit for Republican after dinner theater. Besides, they knew what they were doing, and Kinison was even funny.

It was Ann Coulter who gave CPAC its Star Wars cantina reputation. Fired from National Review for suggesting America needed to invade the Middle East and convert everyone to Christianity (so quaint sounding now), Coulter would pack them in just so Republicans could say they were there when she said something like, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times building.”

Now we have a whole generation of provocateurs, and none of them are even as literate as Coulter. If Kirk, Owens and Sean Hannity appeared on Jeopardy, none of them would qualify for the final round. Worse, normally intelligent politicians like Scott Walker are in a race to keep up with the stupid.

We’re now entering the season of Lincoln Day dinners. Or Lincoln-Reagan Day dinners. Or even Lincoln-Reagan-Trump Day dinners. (They’re getting dumber and dumber, too.) Where once your local Republican Party found a prominent party leader who could speak intelligently on an issue, or a prominent public intellectual who could address national affairs, the Republicans will show movies by Dinesh D’Souza explaining how the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Afterwards, Kirk and Owen can explain why we should withdraw from NATO — if anyone in the audience knows what NATO is*.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bothеr, they’re herе

— Stephen Sondheim, “Send in the Clowns”

James Wigderson
Waukesha, WI
February 4, 2024

*Note: When I made an appearance at Marquette University last October, Charlie Sykes asked the chairman of the College Republicans at Marquette a question about NATO. The student leader had no idea what Sykes was talking about.

Please follow and like us: