"But it also bears a political argument we need to absorb. Explained Connor in Chicago, 'The John Birch Society built the most effective, best-funded right-wing populist organization in the United States of America. Now, not all my friends on the left want to hear this. It’s so easy to say, "These people were crackpots."' But Robert Welch 'was a brilliant man. That doesn’t mean he was correct about anything. But he was a brilliant man. And he loved to sell.' And what comes through strikingly in the book is that, even as Welch and his organization were excoriated, the stories they told, frequently through carefully disguised front groups with pleasant-sounding names—say, the one from the 1960s about how sexual education was teaching children how to be sexually promiscuous; or the one in the early 1990s promoting the impeachment of Bill Clinton—were sold quite effectively to the broader political culture. They achieved things."
Rick Perlstein at The Nation discusses Claire Connor and her new book, Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right.