John Leo

Mickey Kaus at says that the gay-cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain has the same marketing strategy as Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Both, he says, have been hyped as blue-state movies that are reaching and changing minds in the cities of red America.  He calls this the "Heartland Breakout Meme”. ("Meme" refers to a cultural copying unit that hops from brain to brain without much thought or any at all). What Kaus means is that the mainstream media keep reinforcing ideas liberals want to believe, whether they are true or not. But the alleged breakout of Fahrenheit appears to be myth, as Byron York shows by revealing some confidential movie-industry data in his new book, The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.

Kaus thinks preliminary box office numbers indicate that Brokeback isn't reaching red America either. His point is that liberals delude themselves into overconfidence and harm the Democratic Party by projecting a false view of political reality.  He writes: "If you think the visceral straight male reaction against male homosexual sex has effectively won't spend a lot of time trying to figure out the possible deep-seated, even innate, sources of resistance to liberalization... At worst, you'll pass them off as sheer redneck bigotry-a proven way to lose the red states for good".

A version of the “Heartland Breakout Meme” appeared when Bill Clinton, under pressure from the gay lobby, agreed to accept declared homosexuals into the armed services. The polls were mixed, and if read carefully, showed that much resistance seemed strong. But liberals thought it would be a low-cost initiative for Clinton.  A few howls from the right and it would all be over. Liberals were stunned when the resistance inflicted considerable political damage on the new presidency and resulted in a policy that none had even imagined-don't-ask-don't-tell.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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