It’s been a while. Garrison Keillor is one of today’s bitter, unfunny former humorists. Now he devotes most of his time to pondering dark conspiracy theories and mumbling about impending fascism. A lot of people, though, still like the Prairie Home Companion persona that made Keillor famous. Which is why 1,000 adoring fans, including my aunt, a liberal Democrat, turned out to see him in Dallas at the end of September. The event, a speech plus book-signing, was at Highland Park United Methodist Church. Here is how Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd described the evening:
People who were present said the event went swimmingly. Mr. Keillor charmed the audience, they said, then answered questions and signed copies of his book.
“He was very well-received,” said one Keillor fan who was present. “The crowd adored him, laughing and applauding throughout the hour.”
Keillor, though, saw it differently. Having basked in the Dallas crowd’s laughter, applause and standing ovation, and, no doubt, sold a good many books, he turned on his fans in a vicious column in the Chicago Tribune. Keillor wrote:
I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky.
I walked in, was met by two burly security men … and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes’ church and that it would be better if I didn’t talk about politics.
From Floyd’s column, it appears that pretty much every “fact” stated in Keillor’s rant was untrue. Why did Keillor go off on his own fans in this bizarre way? Floyd attempts an explanation:
In his brief response to me, Mr. Keillor mentioned that the guards