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Michelle Malkin:
The Radical Right's Asian Pitbull


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Malkin Michelle Malkin:
The Radical Right's Asian
Pitbull

     “We would go out and report on school-board meetings,” she recalled, “and then turn around and editorialize about it.”

     While Michelle Maglalang was churning out petulant columns voicing the anger and bewilderment of the older, less educated, more conservative subscribers of The Daily News who felt alienated by the influx of immigrants into Southern California, Jesse Malkin was working on white papers that came down on the side of a medical profession feeling increasinlgy besieged by health care reform. His PhD thesis was The Postpartum Mandate: Estimated Costs and Benefits. That subject would be reprised in a paper Malkin later co-authored as a RAND consultant with three others titled Postpartum Length of Stay and Newborn Health: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. Essentially, it finds medical benefit in extended hospital stays for women who had given birth. Another of his co-authored papers is titled How Much Does Global Warming Matter? and subtitled, “What the world's population needs most are more lavatories and better sewage systems.” Despite the papers' scholarly tone, Jesse Malkin's political leanings were as unmistakeable as his new wife's.

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     The couple married in 1993. Michelle changed Maglalang to Malkin. In 1996 when Jesse's RAND consulting career took him to Seattle, Michelle landed a job at The Seattle Times. Before the year was out the more famous Malkin was unleashing the no-holds-barred style of political spitballing that would ultimately make her a poster girl for the radical right. She railed against the University of Washington's affirmative action policy, popular Governor Gary Locke's alleged “Asian Money Ties”, measures to provide more protection against drive-by shootings in public places, the dangers of “diversity do-goodism”, and incongruously enough, the failure to make good on FDR's promise of welfare benefits to foreign Filipino veterans. This last was a jarring inversion of Malkin's usual positions on government spending and the rights of non-U.S.-citizens — she actually seemed to be arguing that able-bodied foreign nationals were more deserving of government largesse than the wounded and disabled.

     The birth of daughter Veronica and the launch of her syndicated column coincided with Michelle Malkin's decision to quit her Seattle Times job in late 1999. The family followed Jesse's RAND consulting job to Maryland. He worked in a Gaithersburg highrise while Michelle worked out of the house, first in Germantown, then North Bethesda. Freed from the restraints of staff writing, Malkin's tone became cattier and more bombastic. A column entitled “Sluts and nuts — and our daughters” (Feb. 28, 2000) called Britney Spears “a paragon -- of adolescent American insipidity and shamelessness... the teen pop star with a tinny-thin voice, shiny blonde tresses, chronically exposed navel, and an IQ that roughly equals her much-discussed chest size.”

     In a column entitled “The Truth about Erin Brockovich” (Apr. 14, 2000), Malkin takes swipes at the claim that pollutants contributed to the unusually high cancer rates in Hinkley, California but directs her real venom at the attractive environmentalist and her portrayal by Julia Roberts.

     “Audiences and critics are falling hard for Julia Roberts' low-cut, high-heeled portrayal of the real-life Brockovich,” Malkin groused. “She's a foul-mouthed file clerk who took on an evil utility company that allegedly poisoned residents in the desert town of Hinkley, Calif. Brockovich scored $2 million in legal bonuses. Roberts made $20 million playing Pretty Woman meets A Civil Action. Over the past four weeks, the box-office smash grossed nearly $90 million.” The column sums up with another swipe at Brockovich/Roberts's sex appeal: “Alas, the cold, hard facts are no match for a warm smile, dazzling cleavage, and a blinding Hollywood spotlight.”

     Tying every issue to a leering swipe at the physical appearance, personal style or intimate life of a prominent figure — especially those with a high sex-appeal quotient — was becoming Malkin's trademark. It didn't matter that the subject had done nothing to invite focus on her personal life. Even Elizabeth Dole didn't escape Malkin's radar. In “Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?” (Mar. 17, 2000) Malkin snipes, “She's baaaack. Elizabeth Dole has been buffed, polished, and pulled off the Republican trophy shelf by Texas Gov. George W. Bush in a lame attempt to attract liberal women voters,”. Malkin even seemed to hint at a bit of sexual chemistry between Dole and Bush. “She cooed that Bush was ‘my kind of conservative.’” She sexualizes Dole with the gratuitous observation: “The woman nicknamed ‘Sugar Lips’ has been wading inside the Beltway for decades, like a giddy queen bee in a bottomless pot of taxpayer-subsidized honey.”

     Malkin was becoming skilled at supplying back-door titillation to those who liked to heap righteous indignation on supposed immorality while leering at its sexiest exponents. Some observers thought Malkin was out to make herself an object of right-wing titillation. For her column's headshot she cultivated a put-together look that included parted lips coated with red lipstick, big wind-blown hair and a red blouse unbuttoned to expose a prominent V of flesh. “Malkin is a true Cundit,” observed one anonymous poster. “A highly paid media ‘ho’ getting richer by throwing red meat to the loons.” Malkin made frequent references to the background and credentials of her obviously non-Asian husband. To complete the picture of exotic flesh in bed with the right wing, she made a point of distancing herself from the perspective normally associated with her Asian ethnicity.

     In “Asian American Pity Party” (May 2, 2001), she writes, “Here are some of the racial epithets I've been called in my lifetime: Chink. Gook. Jap. Nigger. Slant eyes. Dog-eater. Those are just the printable ones. I'm an American of Filipino descent, but have been mistaken for everything from native Hawaiian to Caribbean. I've been blamed for the Vietnam War, attacked for stealing jobs and told countless times to "go back home" -- which usually means Bangkok or Beijing or some other exotic locale I've only seen on a map.”

     Despite having suffered racial slurs, Malkin asserts, she has risen above “self-pity.”, thereby shifting the onus for slurs from those who sling them to their victims — a familiar right-wing tactic. She then blasts a Chinese American organization called the Committee of 100 for commissioning a survey on American perceptions of Chinese Americans. She goes on to paint the Committee as being pro-China, a rightwing shorthand for “traitors”.



     “The Committee of 100, an elite pro-China engagement public affairs group, has a vested interest in playing the victim card to shield its allies from criticism. Not a single newspaper that covered the survey reported that until recently, one prominent member of the Committee of 100 was none other than convicted campaign finance felon and suspected foreign agent John Huang. As Huang himself once warned: “There is a Chinese saying: ‘When you drink water, always think about the source.’”

     The most remarkable thing about Malkin's bi-weekly columns is how consistently they strike a single note: the American way of life under attack. Apparently the American way of life comprises values that were cast in stone around the turn of the last century and is threatened by those who represent the forces of change. Foremost among them are foreigners entering the U.S. The rights granted illegal immigrants became a Malkin pet peeve. In a bit of serendipitous timing, on the day before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, her column (“The end of American citizenship”, Sep. 10, 2001) lashed out at the ease with which some illegal immigrants were allowed to become legal residents and citizens. It was criticizing the federal government's amnesty program for illegal migrant workers from Mexico, but its dire tone seemed borne out the very next day by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. PAGE 3

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“The most remarkable thing about Malkin's bi-weekly columns is how consistently they strike a single note: the American way of life under attack.”


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