Steve Benen has a piece based on a column by Dana Milbank which talks about the Republican Party’s mainstreaming of the fringe elements of the party. They seem to be welcoming all comers, whether sane or not, racist or not, conspiracy freaks or not and basically those who believe that the world is flat. Both Milbank and Benen say it better than I can so here is some of their words about it. First Millbank…..
Late last month, Thomas Sowell of the conservative Hoover Institution penned an irresponsible column likening Obama’s presidency (particularly his pushing BP to set aside funds for oil-spill victims) to the rise of Hitler in Germany and Lenin in the Soviet Union.
After the column came out, Sarah Palin tweeted her followers with instructions to “Read Thomas Sowell’s article.” Sowell’s theme — that Obama, like Hitler and Lenin, exploits “useful idiots” who don’t know much about politics — was strikingly similar to what wound up on the Iowa billboard.
Twenty years ago, the dawn of the Internet Age gave us Godwin’s Law: If an online argument goes on long enough, somebody will eventually invoke Hitler. When that happens, it’s basically the end of the conversation, because all rational discussion ceases when one side calls the other Nazis.
These sentiments have long existed on the fringe and always will. The problem is that conservative leaders and Republican politicians, in their blind rage against Obama these last 18 months, invited the epithets of the fringe into the mainstream. Godwin’s Law has spread from the chat rooms and now applies to cable news and even to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Consider these tallies from Glenn Beck’s show on Fox News since Obama’s inauguration: 202 mentions of Nazis or Nazism, according to transcripts, 147 mentions of Hitler, 193 mentions of fascism or fascist, and another 24 bonus mentions of Joseph Goebbels. Most of these were directed in some form at Obama — as were the majority of the 802 mentions of socialist or socialism on Beck’s nightly “report.”
And now Steve Benen’s take on this…
The speed with which conservatives went from zero to hysterical in 2009 was impressive, but it’s the mainstreaming of sheer madness that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. As Milbank noted, “[A]ccusations that once were beyond the pale — not just talk of Nazis and Marxists but intimations of tyranny, revolution and bloodshed — are now routine.”
And so the Republican Party shows no meaningful qualms about becoming the party of conspiracy theories (“Birthers,” Gulf oil spill was deliberate), wild-eyed accusations (ACORN, “re-education camps,” Gestapo-like security forces, New Black Panther Party), and radical policy positions (a five-year spending freeze to address a global economic crisis, the belief that tax cuts pay for themselves, a freeze on federal regulations, willful ignorance about energy, health, and education policy, the entire Sharron Angle/Rand Paul platform).
The point isn’t that political radicalism is new; it’s clearly not. Rather, the key development over the last 18 months is the ways in which right-wing extremism has gone mainstream — with the consent of the Republican Party, which sees the electoral benefits of blind rage and fear.
That Mason City billboard warned the public that “radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive.” On this, the Tea Partiers were far more correct than they probably realize.
I’ve argued all along that the LEADERS of the Republican Party are the crazies and now they are just “emboldened” by the election of Barack Obama. They’ve been there all along, they are just now taking over control of the party from those “thinking” Republicans. I have a hard time thinking of a “thinking” Republican these days, they all seem to have gone over the edge. We live in a scary country.