I don’t believe I have ever read a piece by Adam Kirsch before, but I just finished “Gore Vidal’s ‘Burr’ Is Antidote to Tea Party Myths” and I am less than impressed. The gist of the article is that the Tea Party’s portrayal of the Founding Fathers is wrong, the Founding Fathers were essentially unprincipled rouges just looking to feather their nests and that we should therefore dismiss the Tea Party as dupes who believe in fairy tales and fantasies.
The problem is that Kirsch doesn’t make that case by actually looking at the backgrounds of the Founding Fathers (none of whom were perfect, to be sure). Instead he chooses an utterly ridiculous means of attacking the Founders – he reviews Gore Vidal’s book “Burr.” What is Burr? It is a FICTIONAL account of Aaron Burr, the Founding Fathers and their political interactions. To hold up work of fantasy and claim that it forms a basis for challenging history is absurd. All that Kirsch has “proved” is that if Gore Vidal’s fantasy about the Founding Fathers was correct then the Tea Party’s love of the Founding Fathers may be misplaced. However, even if that were correct, the Tear Party’s love of the principles that the Founding Fathers espoused would not be called into question. So, in the end, we have one writer who loves another writer’s fantasy and thinks that that fantasy forms the basis of an intellectual challenge to the limited government movement because the people who first provided the intellectual foundations of the movement may not be as perfect as its adherents believe.
Kirsch should either stay away from commenting on politics or stop using fantasy as the basis of his arguments.