Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 28, 2009

MADNESS ISN'T ENOUGH.... On Thursday, Mike Huckabee offered the CPAC faithful the kind of rhetoric they want to hear.

"The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead," said Huckabee, "but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born." Democrats, according to Huckabee, were packing 40 years of pet projects like "health care rationing" into spending bills. "Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff."

The estimable Mark Kleiman, noting the bizarre remarks, said Huckabee may be "self-destructing" as a credible national figure.

Yes, yes, the CPAC crowd is the extreme of the extreme. But in the YouTube era you can't go around mouthing this stuff and be taken seriously as a candidate for President.

I'd really love to believe that, but I don't.

A prominent conservative Republican gives a public speech in front of a large audience. He compares the Obama administration to the USSR, lies about a few policy issues, throws around the word "socialist" a bunch of times, and then throws in a reference to Lenin and Stalin. This, by any sensible measure, is absurd. It's reasonable to think candidates for national office can't get away with such pathetic nonsense.

Indeed, I suspect that if a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as "fascism," comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler, that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward. Presidential ambitions would be largely out of the question.

But I find it very hard to believe Huckabee's future has been imperiled by simply saying crazy things. That's just not how modern conservative politics works. In Republican circles, there's no such thing as excessive rhetoric.

Steve Benen 10:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

"In Republican circles, there's no such thing as excessive rhetoric."

Steve - now I believe that you are starting to show some real understanding of rethug politics!

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 28, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

i've said it before and i'm sure i'll say it again: in the race to be the republican nominee in 2012, you can't start the crazy too soon.

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 28, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree. As Josh Marshall says, Washington is still wired for Republicans. So, you won't here the usual suspects criticizing Huckabee's nonsense. But, I think out in the real world, this sort of crazy rhetoric has lost its effectiveness. People hear terms such as "socialized medicine" and think - hmmm, that doesn't sound so bad, I'd get health care. The Republican machine is like the coyote in Road Runner cartoons; it's run off the cliff, but hasn't yet looked down. By the next election cycle, the Republican's total lack of solutions to any problem will be evident to anyone who takes a look.

Posted by: jrw on February 28, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

A prominent conservative Republican gives a public speech in front of a large audience. He compares the Obama administration to the USSR, lies about a few policy issues, throws around the word "socialist" a bunch of times, and then throws in a reference to Lenin and Stalin. This, by any sensible measure, is absurd. It's reasonable to think candidates for national office can't get away with such pathetic nonsense.

Is there any national Republican politician who hasn't done this? McCain, Boehner, Huckabee, Romney, Palin, Gingrich....hey, why did my fingers start to bleed when I typed those names in a row?

Indeed, I suspect that if a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as "fascism," comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler, that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward.

Proof, once again, that you can get away with way more stuff as a Republican than as a Democrat. The mainstream media are, oddly, so inured to craziness and lunacy by Republicans -- while paradoxically also portraying them as the sober, serious party -- that this kind of stuff doesn't even raise an eyebrow. It's the Democrats -- who again, paradoxically, they portray as magnetic-levitating hippies -- from whom they demand seriousness at all times.

Posted by: Stefan on February 28, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

By all accounts, the attendees of the CPAC, (both speakers and audience), are ahistorical, ademocratic, aintellectual, and amoral - all of which make for an unhealthy spawning of nihilism that we are all going to have to face as soon as these idiots decide to act! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 28, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Insanity in conservative 'thought' isn't a bug. It's a feature.

Posted by: JoeW on February 28, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I suppose they'll run in 2012 on a "Who Lost China?" slogan....is there a Taft somewhere in Ohio to draft?

They are conservatives after all, to the extent that 'conservative' means 'holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change.'

Party like it's 1952, dudes.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 28, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born."

When I was a kid, we criticized the Soviet Union because they tortured their citizens and spied on them as well. Where are we now? And who brought us there? The only bad thing about the demise of the Soviet Union is that it gave the Republicans political cover to recreate it here. The only difference is that, rather than having the government control the corporations, the corporations control the government. But either way, the corporations and the government are one and the same. In the end, the political spectrum is really a circle, with fascism and communism being the same thing with different names, but the same results. When I was young, I always thought the Republicans envied the methods of the Soviet Union, but just couldn't say it. Now I know I was right.

Posted by: fostert on February 28, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Davis X. Machina - you've offered a slogan the CPACers would no doubt rally around, but Ron Paul floated out another potential slogan - Woodrow Wilson lied to the American people during the 1916 campaign, and now the Democrats can't be trusted! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 28, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, did "John" Kai-shek have any sons?

Which "Three Johns" will the Huckster blame this upon?

Posted by: berttheclock on February 28, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

NPR yesterday and today said pretty much the same thing without the Stalin and Lenin references.

Posted by: grinning cat on February 28, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The times have changed and I don't think we all yet appreciate just how much youtube is a part of that. People like Huckabee used to do this all the time. Be extreme at one gathering and then entirely reasonable somewhere else but other than a few press clippings nobody really heard about it. Now when you can pull up the video and send it via email these kinds of speeches matter a lot more. Not everybody actually caught Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin when the actual SNL episode ran but most of those that missed it caught it at some point on youtube. This is why the Republicans are going to be stuck for the foreseable future. Its much harder for them to now talk out of both sides of their mouths and get away with it. Ask Bobby Jindal about it.

Now the onus is on us as bloggers to keep posting these videos when they happen and even later and also by emailing them to all our friends to make sure they go viral. The more we can help to delegitimize them with their own words the easier it will be to vanquish them later on.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla on February 28, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wait till Huckabee works his way around to Quemoy and Matsu...

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 28, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Bobby Jindal didn't lie, left wing bloggers tore him down because he's not a white republican therefore he's threatening to their belief system.[/sarcasm]

Posted by: grinning cat on February 28, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Which "Three Johns" will the Huckster blame this upon?

Keynes, Galbraith, and Kerry.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 28, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Huckabee = Batshit Crazy. The representative of lunatic fringe emboldened by pallin' around with equally unbalanced Faux lunatics.

Posted by: John R on February 28, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

i think the republicans will find that this old argument about "healthcare rationing" is not going to fly (except with the media, of course) because working people have had plenty of time to understand that their healthcare is rationed already, while those millions who have none at all are wishing mightily that they could have some rationed their way.

Posted by: karen marie on February 28, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

That's just not how modern conservative politics works. In Republican circles, there's no such thing as excessive rhetoric.

It has nothing to do with politics - it has everything to do with how the media handles such things.

republican/conservatives are successful with their lies, deceptions, and distortions because US corporate media presents their said as reasonable. Not only can democrats and progressives not get close to expounding the excessive extreme rhetoric and lies as republicans, but democrats words are twisted by the media to be things never said. As long as corporate media controls the public information, democratic and progressive ideas will be distorted and mangled, and republican/conservative ideas will be promoted as perfectly reasonable and beneficial. There is nothing more important to America of, by, and for the people than to breakup Big Media.
.

Posted by: pluege on February 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Well, you have one group pallin' around, while another likes to palin' around, as a third is rushin' to judgement. Quite a circus run amok.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 28, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I fail to see why you're so worried about this. The main reason to worry about Publican rhetoric of this sort is that it can, and probably will again, incite mentally ill wingnuts to acts of violence against the rest of us. But you don't mention that here. It's pretty clear that most of America isn't buying the Publican line on any of the issues facing us, and Publicans like the Huckster aren't going to magically change that. Except for the incitement issue, we should be glad that most of the opposition is so willing to let all their repugnant feelings and beliefs hang out so visibly.

Posted by: Stephen1947 on February 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

The real problem as I see it is that thhe corporate media won't cover it. Just like thhey played down or covered up crazy things said by other leading Prethugs. If a Dem uses hyperbole, they'd run it 24/7 and ruin the Dem's political career. If a Thug says something thuggish, well, the the rich talking heads ignore it.

Posted by: wonkie on February 28, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

The main reason to worry about Publican rhetoric of this sort is that it can, and probably will again, incite mentally ill wingnuts to acts of violence against the rest of us.

Yes, it's difficult not to interpret those comments as the functional equivalent of: "Won't someone rid me of that troublesome priest!"

Posted by: trex on February 28, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Olbermann had a good line last night about CPAC: something along the lines of 'Are the people at CPAC the lunatic fringe of a mainstream political party, or are they the mainstream of a lunatic fringe party?'

Posted by: Robert Earle on February 28, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I really think the majority has had it with faith-based, ignorance-spawned policies. The turn toward pragmatism is very strong, and Obama is surfing this wave. Huckabee's audience is no more than 25-30% of the people. He's the epitome of the GOP as a regional, southern, white and largely ignorant bunch. The rest of the folks in the south as well as everywhere else will take governance and competence over this nonsense in a flash.

Posted by: Mimikatz on February 28, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if these people ever realize that when they talk about liberals the way they do, with no respect, they are talking about the majority of this country, because we voted for Obama because we liked his agenda.
Also I get really angry when they throw out comments about Hitler & fascism, when they probably were not born when Hitler was in power. I am 75, I grew up in WW2 Europe and these idiots don't know anything.

Posted by: JS on February 28, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bobby Jindal didn't lie, left wing bloggers tore him down because he's not a white republican therefore he's threatening to their belief system.[/sarcasm]

You've been reading RedState, have you? That is exactly what they said.

And Olbermann owes Jindal an apology.

I loves reading me some right wing nuttery.

Posted by: MsJoanne on February 28, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

He is self-destructing, because he is, by inclination or history, neither a fiscal conservative nor a libertarian. The only chance Huckabee or his party has for the foreseeable future is for one of them to go outside the box they find themselves in now. A libertarian (a real one, for gay equality and ending the war on drugs) fiscal conservative would be one answer, but a socially conservative big government guy seems like a really smart play.

Huckabee would seem to be well-positioned for the latter. But you can't say shibboleth to a bunch of things you really don't believe, and hope to unsay them later, mostly because the true believers will doubt your sincerity in the first instance.

Posted by: kth on February 28, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a little more optimistic than Steve. Remember, around mid-October of last year, when McCain, Palin, Joe the Plumber, et al., began doing their "socialist" riff on Obama? That's when a narrow contest turned into a Democratic blowout.

The GOP has used government power and largesse to benefit its constituencies so garishly in the past 15 years that its charges of socialism can be devastatingly rebutted.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on February 28, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what the Republicans refuse to admit or understand - their social and economic rhetoric of "the government's gonna take YOUR money and give it to the lazy poor who refuse to work" doesn't work so well when a: EVERYONE is, or feels, broke; b: the difference between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves had better lines of credit and mortgages and their one paycheck away from being have-nots; c: his nouveau poor understands that if they're broke but are willing to work, those "lazy poor" might be willing to work, too; d: they're all desperate enough to give higher taxes to the wealthiest 1% a shot.

I'm cynical/realistic enough to know that this will change, the pendulum will swing to the right and as people get some cash in their pocket and higher lines of credit again, many of them will go back to embracing the party of "me me mine." But until then, Obama can pretty much do no wrong. Socialism actually looks better when you have nothing. Just as many Americans were willing to sacrifice all sorts of freedom and privacy for the illusion of safety in the wake of 9/11, so too are they willing to embrace what the right foolishly labels socialism if it means their kids don't go hungry and they get to keep their house. If they had half a brain amongst them, they'd spend more effort touting an alternative policy that makes sense, but all they have is more tax breaks for the wealthy, and that dog no longer hunts.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 28, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I suspect that if a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as 'fascism,' comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler, that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward."

I'm surprised to see you engaging in this false equivalency.

The sort of rhetoric you describe in regard to the Bush administration would not have been at all extreme -- it would have been, in fact, accurate and to the point.

Many aspects of the Cheney-Bush administration were, in fact, a close match for the dictionary definition of "fascism" -- in particular, a close match for the Mussolini-approved definition, which asserted that fascism was "corporatism -- the merging of state and corporate power".

Similarly, the Cheney-Bush administration engaged in practices that are characteristic of totalitarian regimes, including demonization of dissidents, secrecy, censorship, control of the mass media, covert surveillance of citizens, and arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without recourse to the legal system.

And as to comparing Bush with Hitler, the problem with comparing anyone to Hitler is that most people tend to automatically think "Hitler equals Holocaust" and assume that when you compare anyone with Hitler you are suggesting they are guilty of atrocities on the scale of the Holocaust.

But there are other comparisons that one can make with Hitler: for example, the characteristic rhetoric and propaganda techniques that he and the Nazis used; a pseudo-ideology based on hatred of supposed "powerful elites" who are the cause of all the nation's problems (in Hitler's case, hatred of "Jews", in Bush's case, hatred of "Liberals"); invading other countries on false pretenses; and of course, the merger of state and corporate power that is characteristic of mid-20th century fascism. And in these regards, there are certainly some valid comparisons that can be made between Bush and Hitler.

On the other hand, comparison of Obama's policy proposals with the USSR is blatantly baseless and absurd. Obama's policies are moving the country in the direction of open, transparent, accountable, accessible government and thus are the antithesis of the USSR. Indeed, the Cheney-Bush administration more closely approached the totalitarianism of the USSR than any other administration in US history, in particular with its censorship and perversion of science for political gain.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2009 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

You know,

"health care rationing"

is what we have now.

Posted by: alan on February 28, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Rush wants to tell racist jokes without guilt.

Repeat this reality and he will fade.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 28, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans already proved their ideas don't work and they can't manage. Many of them are corrupt.

All they have left is rhetoric.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 28, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"f a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as "fascism," ... that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously."

The wing-nuts have been saying for quite a while that "fascism" was a movement of the left, because it came from the National SOCIALIST Party.

Dimwits.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on February 28, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Half the time they're calling us fascists and the other half of the time they're calling us socialists.

It really doesn't matter that much since nobody's paying any attention to them but I wish they'd make up their minds.

Posted by: leo on February 28, 2009 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, I suspect that if a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as "fascism," comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler, that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward. Presidential ambitions would be largely out of the question.

But I find it very hard to believe Huckabee's future has been imperiled by simply saying crazy things. That's just not how modern conservative politics works. In Republican circles, there's no such thing as excessive rhetoric.

It's no big surprise that Republicans feel this way. One has to expect that.

The real problem is that the Village - Broder, Hiatt, and their acolytes - don't call them on it. Broder won't regard Huckabee as less of a 2012 prospect on account of this speech, nor will he bemoan the fact that the speech doesn't hurt Huck's prospects. Ditto Hiatt, Ruth Marcus, and all the rest of that crowd.

And when they're talking about centrism and bipartisanship, the fact that Huck's said these things won't in any way hurt his cred as a guy who supposedly tries to reach across to Dem voters.

That wingnuts are wingnuts isn't a problem. That our 'centrist' pundits are the wingnuts' bitches, is a problem.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on March 1, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Moyers has noted (my paraphrasing) that "what once was regarded as delusional has now become mainstream". For me that means that people like the John Birch Society, et al now own the right-wing. I wonder if I am becoming a paranoid left winger. But the craziness I hear from the right is becoming alarmingly scary. I have been listening to Limbaugh, Levine, Savage in recent days and it sounds like paranoid psychotics have taken over the radio waves. No one who has an education, has access to facts and info via google can seriously make these kinds of assertions. But I guess they can and do.

Posted by: mickster on March 1, 2009 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

"republican/conservatives are successful with their lies, deceptions, and distortions because US corporate media presents their said as reasonable. Not only can democrats and progressives not get close to expounding the excessive extreme rhetoric and lies as republicans, but democrats words are twisted by the media to be things never said. As long as corporate media controls the public information, democratic and progressive ideas will be distorted and mangled, and republican/conservative ideas will be promoted as perfectly reasonable and beneficial. There is nothing more important to America of, by, and for the people than to breakup Big Media."

I entirely disagree with your ideology. You've rather said, It's on the politics not on the media. Your creating such self destruction because the Republicans controls the media. Is that what you want to say? Well, I tell you Democrats is compose of propaganda that full of futility for they are all self centered political party. What's next for the American. A Black Man becomes President so they decide to put a Black as head of the Republicans. Now they're trying to bring Bobby Jindal along just as the Democrats brought Obama along. Well, probably not. Because this will turn out to futility. Do you think the Republicans will let it happen? The GOP is taking aim at the newly picked democrat candidate for 20th congressional election who owes business taxes and penalties.

Scott Murphy for Congress Tax Liens

Posted by: Jeff on March 3, 2009 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly