Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 18, 2010

WHEN THE FRINGE IS THE MAINSTREAM.... Dana Milbank had a very worthwhile column today, noting, among other things, the larger significance of a billboard in Mason City, Iowa.

You're no doubt familiar with it by now. This is the billboard "depicting three leaders: Adolf Hitler (with swastika), Vladimir Lenin (with hammer and sickle) and Barack Obama (with 2008 campaign logo). Over Hitler were the words 'National Socialism,' over Lenin was 'Marxist Socialism' and over Obama was 'Democrat Socialism.'"

The billboard was sponsored by local Tea Party activists, who eventually backpedaled, not because they realized their sign was insane, but because the media coverage made them look bad. The importance is the larger context: "The vile sign ... was a logical expression of a message supported by conservative thought leaders and propagated by high-level Republican politicians."

Quite right. Milbank notes, for example, a recent screed from Thomas Sowell, who equated the Obama presidency with the rise of Hitler. It was quickly touted by a right-wing member of Congress and a certain former half-term governor of Alaska.

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. [...]

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." [...]

Isn't there a grown-up to rein in these backbenchers when they go over the top? Don't ask House Minority Leader John Boehner, the man who would replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker. He accuses the Democrats of "snuffing out the America that I grew up in" and predicts a rebellion unlike anything "since 1776." Boehner also said one Democratic lawmaker "may be a dead man" for his vote on health care and predicted that the bill would bring "Armageddon."

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 they're common, not just among fringe media personalities and activists, but with the Republican Party establishment.

It's tempting to think there will be eventually be a Joseph Welch moment, but no one in the party seems willing to step up and acknowledge that Republicans shouldn't follow the orders of unhinged zealots. On the contrary, they're afraid to disappoint the radical base, which may in turn undermine the GOP's "enthusiasm gap" edge.

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).

Rage and paranoia are not an attractive combination, but they're driving the GOP talking points and the larger political discourse. So, when a member of the Republican leadership talked about the GOP emulating the Taliban, no one in the party deemed this controversial. When Republicans regularly compare U.S. leaders to Germany in the 1930s, the party mainstream barely bats an eye. When GOP policymakers openly discuss the prospect of state nullification of federal laws, no one in the Republican ranks steps up to say, "Good Lord, these people are mad."

Best of all, Republican "leaders" are content to keep it this way. Indeed, it seems to be the centerpiece of the midterm election strategy.

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.

Steve Benen 11:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

The outcome of the November election hinges upon how many closet racists are registered to vote.

Posted by: DAY on July 18, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"And they're common, not just among fringe media personalities and activists, but with the Republican Party establishment."

Yep - the Clinton years revisited.

Posted by: Mark-NC on July 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

"The speed with which conservatives went from zero to hysterical in 2009 was impressive..."

When were they at zero? I missed that part.

Posted by: Doug on July 18, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Joe Welch" This: This morning, Vice President Biden gutted the argument that racism is a core tea bagger tenet on a Sunday chit chat show.

Among many other things, it puts the administration's cat food commission in an entirely new light, doesn't it?

Posted by: JL on July 18, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

The fringe is now mainstream and the old mainstream is impotent. I was wondering this morning what this nation would be like if Rupert Murdoch had never been born. Because he turned news into police gazette infotainment, which more than any other development allowed for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism. The paranoid style has never gone out of style but with Murdoch's toxic touch, it's now at the center of our political tug of war. Maybe it's time for another Welch moment: Robert Welch, Jr. He didn't live long enough to see it happen but Murdoch has fulfilled his promise.

Posted by: walt on July 18, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's been going on for decades.

Keep on marginalizing the left by calling them traitors, communists, socialists, welfare queens, wimps, homos, or any new epithet of the day till war become peace, unemployment becomes sloth, right becomes left, and reactionary becomes normal.

Posted by: gregor on July 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

On one level, the GOP knows perfectly well what it is doing. But what's frightening is that the leadership really thinks they can ride the tiger and not wind up inside it.

Posted by: Domage on July 18, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

2009 did see the rise of conservative hysteria, propagated by clarions of projectively perceived monsters trying to turn good ol'white folk into a diverse army of international zombies working to benefit nothing but the world of Islam, while turning granny over to the death panels waiting to turn her into soylent green!

The likes of Hannity, Beck, Savage and last because he's on occasion too fat to fit into the sentence, Limbaugh have truly off set any effort to work our nation's democratic institutions forward toward the actual solutions to issues, problems and potential crises we face as a nation of American citizens! Now look to these buffoons' political allies in government and we get a lazy man who would be speaker!

Yes, the extreme within has truly laid itself bare. The question for us all is who will prevail in November. If your loved ones, friends and neighbors don't get the severity of this year's election, please boldly spring into action to get them to the polls to keep the Republicans from taking us back to a world of hurt!

Just saying!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 18, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Doug,

When were they at zero? I missed that part.

Me too.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 18, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Also, too, remember that Republicans love the United States of America and everything she stands for. They just despise the government of the United States, and they despise more than half the people who live here, and they hate all that messy messy freedom that lets blacks and non-christians vote.

Posted by: Domage on July 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

reality show gone mad

Posted by: golack on July 18, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Our conservative friends have always been hysterical. What they'be become now is obvious. The genteel racism of the past has been replaced by outright frothing at the mouth. As Mel Brooks so eloquently put it in Blazing Saddles: "Can't you see that man's a ni???" That is now the sum total of the GOP message.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on July 18, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the fear mongering has worked on me. I'm friggin' terrified these lunatics will someday get more power than they already have. I hope they scare all people of good will into voting.

Posted by: TK on July 18, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

The likes of Hannity, Beck, Savage and last because he's on occasion too fat to fit into the sentence, Limbaugh have truly off set any effort to work our nation's democratic institutions forward toward the actual solutions to issues, problems and potential crises

Exactly right. I'd only add that these aren't "fringe media personalities" but the de facto leaders of the GOP who are driving their insane narrative, 24/7, everywhere. What used to be a mainstream Republican hasn't a chance against them, and that's why there aren't any.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on July 18, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

There was a time , distant now , when a true trust fund baby ran things , sigh . With his avuncular pal from flinty Wyoming they straightened things out right fine .
This was a time of milk and honey , love and money . If any event demonstrated the absolute comity of these times one needs only look at the esteemed philosopher Michelle Malkin . During this time of heaven on earth this wonderful woman took time off from her busy schedule of exposing a secret cabal of socialists offering injured children free health care . This is when the darling of the internment movement provided the public just what it needed . America which was starved for clean simple fun , was introduced to this normal , clean living womans gracious invitation to view her definitive cheer-leading acts . Thank you MS normal , Michelle . Our lonely nation turns .
Now in the winter of our despair , how can we cheer up these wise if ultimately innocent and naive supporters of concentration camps ?

Posted by: FRP on July 18, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I am not trying to compare Obama with Reagan.

Just a few points.
The economy in both 1982 and 2010 was really bad. It hurt Republicans in 82 and will hurt Democrats in 2010. The Republicans are claiming the bad economy is Obama's fault. The Democrats were claiming it is Bush's fault.

A lot of fringe Democrats called Reagan terrible names. A lot of fringe Republicans called Obama terrible names.

Were there many Democrats in 1982 saying the fringe was wrong? Were there many Democrats repeating those same disgusting charges?

How good are the comparisons between 1982 and 2010? The Republicans look really stupid today. Did the Democrats look just as stupid in 1982? Does the answer depend on where you lie on the political spectrum?

Posted by: neil wilson on July 18, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta tell you something neil wilson. You either weren't alive in 1982 or your suffering from a severe case of dementia. There is no comparison between 1982 and 2010 that even remotely makes sense. Try backing up your nonsense with some facts and or examples as opposed to unsubstantiated assertions.

Posted by: Gandalf on July 18, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sometime ago Barbara Tuchman wrote a book, whose title slips me at the moment, March of Follies(?), in which she chronicled much of what we're seeing here. Leaders of a country knew that they were leading the country into a hole. It happened with the Vatican during the Renaissance, it happened with the US during the Viet Nam war. But they weren't able to bring themselves to the point of saying, "Enough!" The Republicans are in the same position. I'm sure that the GOP leadership knows that what they're doing is going to be disastrous for the country, but they can't bring themselves to do anything else. And to try to show them the results of their behavior is pointless because they already know (with the exception of some idiots like Palin), but they aren't able to bring themselves to the point of changing.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on July 18, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

When the "pretend to be" republicans are faced with allegations they turn it around 180 degrees.

Deficit spending is a prime example, Reagan increased the National Debt-186%, Bush Sr.-62%, , and bush jr.-lmost 100%. Now they are trying to blame President Obama and the Democrats

The traditional Republ;ican party is dead! Just gp to:www.oldamericancentury.org/14pts.html.
------www.ourfuture.prg.
------www.alternet.org/tags/fascism/

Type into your search bar: "propaganda techniques of German Fascism"

For the truth on the National Debt: www.lafn.org/gvdc/Natl_Debt_Chart.html.

The Fascists have adopted Hitler's Nazi propaganda's minister Joseph Goebbels "Big Lie" and they keep repeating lies over and over, even preposterous lies.

If you, as a concerned American citizen, want to help then start an email chain letter of the before mentioned sites to friends family neighbors, and your community. Also, print out and distribute to anybody and everybody if you want to defeat Fascism. Fascists hate the truth because they know it will destroy them.

Posted by: ghostcommander on July 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Rage and paranoia may not be an attractive combination, but they pretty much describe how I felt for most of the Bush years. I thought we had a president who disappeared and tortured innocent people, started resource wars, and initiated a massive wealth grab by the nation's financial elites. I also thought he deliberately stole the 2000 election. Saying so at the time got me labeled as nuts.

As long as things stay nonviolent, I think the Tea Partiers are entitled to their rage and paranoia. At least as much as I was entitled to mine.

Posted by: skeptic on July 18, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

That's the nice thing about being decentralized. What one person says is just that, one person and not the whole group.

You should try it sometimes.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on July 18, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is chilling to see people driven by fear and paranoia accusing Obama of being a fascist. Well, fascist and socialist, too. Both. Clearly their ignorance extends to name-calling.

It seems to me that the lunatic fringe of the Republicans began to emerge in the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed and after the repeal of Fairness in Broadcasting. Until 1990 or so, the right-wing authoritarians--which is what they actually are--were marginalized because the American ruling elite understood that the US had to function as an alternative to Communism. But after the Commies were gone, all that fear and paranoia got the green light because now it was useful to the oligarchy to go after the people who believed in equality (aka, a progressive tax code) and justice (equal opportunity for all Americans.)

And with Fairness in Broadcasting gone, Crazy got their voice. Not only could they could say stupidest things and no one would correct them, but they could find one another and confirm that they were, of course, the only real Americans.

A good analogy is that of an infectious disease. You can inoculate the population against the disease, and you can quarantine the carriers of the disease germs. The need to have an answer to Communism inoculated Americans against the John Birch crazy disease. And the repeal of Fairness in Broadcasting removed the quarantine that had keep the germs of Crazy contained.

So now, we've reached a tipping point. The leaders are infected. They think they are channeling Ronald Reagan when, in fact, they are out-Welching Robert Welch himself. The question is how long it will take for the disease to burn itself out and what long-term damage it will do to the body politic.

Posted by: PTate in MN on July 18, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

As someone once said, people have the right to be mad at their government, they do not have the right to their own facts. When I look at the idiots on the right, many probably aged in their 40's comparing Obama to Hitler, to Nazis, to communists etc, I have to wonder where they get their information. I am 76 years old, was a child in WW2 Europe, was bombed by the Nazis (don't forget in London our war stared in 1939 NOT 1941) I knew many people who were in German prison camps & had friends whose parents were killed in the war, believe me we heard about Hitlers activities every day, we saw him on newsreels and our parents talked about him. These neocons do not know what they speak about, one other point, the Neo Nazi's are republican racists!

Posted by: JS on July 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

neil wilson - Got a citation for Democratic members of Congress and senators "calling Reagan terrible names"? Or speaking approvingly of those who did? Or Democratic-affiliated prominent members of the media (not that there were any -- funny how that's different, too)?

That's the entire point of Steve's post, and it's what makes your false equivalence false.

Posted by: Redshift on July 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Skeptic, I vacillated between rage + paranoia and my usual reasonable, optimistic self during the Bush years. The difference is that the Dem party marginalized the people who denounced the War in Iraq, torture, surveillance, Bush's voodoo economics, etc. We were marginalized and made fun of.

By contrast The GOP leadership caters to the Tea Partiers and won't criticize their excesses. Rather, there are nutjobs in the House like Virginia Foxx and Sue Myrick and Steve King and Michele Bachman who spout nonsense that is way,
way further fringe than anything any Dem ever said, and no one even blinks.

The Tea Party crowd is entitled to their rage and paranoia, but they aren't entitled to the deference they get from the GOP leadership and the media. That's what puts the country in danger.

Posted by: Mimikatz on July 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

And it is the mainstream media which has brought the Tbaggers and other insanity to the forefront and given them legitimacy. Dana and friends have much to apologize for.

*Please note, as a former (very small time) journalist, my editor would never have allowed me to publish unchallenged the crap which goes as gospel today.

Posted by: Darsan54 on July 18, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

So Village good little boy Dana has decided to acknowledge what right nuts have screamed since Obama ran for president, now that it is an entire movement, now that 55% believe Obama a socialist, now that racism is a daily bleat of Fox.

And he is applauded here.

How.......liberal of you. How .... Enlightened. How....brave. How .... reasonable.

Posted by: Razor on July 18, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Joseph Welch indeed. It is laughable to suggest our current situation resembles the early 50s in any sense beyond geographical. Once they know you won't fight, it is only a matter of time.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 18, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Like Texas Aggie's comment at 1:46 very much. Spot on.

You can tell that Lindsey Graham, Bob Inglis and some of the more intelligent conservatives can see where their leaders/Tea Partiers' nihilism is taking them and want to dial back. Michael Gerson has been raising the alarm too.

Of course, anyone who praises Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly" gets props from me. Marvelous book. Someone should update it. Lots of contemporary examples. (RIP Miss Tuchman.)

Posted by: Elizabelle on July 18, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

1. if any contemporary pwesident deserves to be compared to hitler, it is boy georgie...
(hint: chancellorship = coup 2000, reichstag fire = nine one one, rove = goebbels, rumsfeld = um, rumsfeld, etc)
2. on the other paw, saint obama *has* been continuing, extending, or introducing even more bushian, draconian, *and* orwellian civil liberties outrages at every turn...
3. from before day one, he has revealed himself as a DLC hack, neo-lib-bot, and rah-rah capitalist piggie, but there are none so blonde... immanuel ? barnanke ? geithner ? etc, etc, etc ?
again, NO HOPEY CHANGEY types from before day one... the liberal-ish, pwogwessive-ish crumbs saint obama threw to his whimpering left-ish worshippers were few, far between, and devoid of little influence... (*IF* they managed to stick, *IF* he bothered to lift a pinkie to 'campaign' for their appointment/etc...)
4. after both the billionaires bailout, and the health-insurance-parasites bailout, i was going to vote for ANY rethug in opposition to dem'rat slime, but i have changed my mind:
A. ANY third party candidate in ANY race against rethugs and/or dem'rats...
B. ANY write-in candidates (if possible) before rethugs or dem'rats...
C. ZERO rethugs or dem'rats voted for, even if that leaves a blank selection for that race...

fuckers: they are a stupid cop / cruel cop act of the two-faced korporate money party...

reform our voting system,
and we reform our democracy:
Paper Ballots
Hand Counted
Locally Reported
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain ! ! !
art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Posted by: art guerrilla on July 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Neil Wilson - I was around in the 80s. Reagan was frequently denigrated as "Bonzo" - but not by anybody in Congress, not by any Democratic leader. People on the street, sure. To my knowledge, none of them had talk shows.

Please note - "Bonzo" and "Hitler" are not interchangeable.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on July 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

PTate is correct; the fall of the Soviet Union licensed our right wing to give free rein to their totalitarian leanings. Do not forget that Ronald Reagan was one of only four people in Beverly Hills to be a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society. This ought to have disqualified him from becoming Governor of California (adherence to a radical group), but J. Edgar Hoover gave him a free pass.

I also seem to recall that a neo-nazi was discovered to be working in GHW Bush's White House, but little came of it.

Posted by: jjm on July 18, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the 1992 Republican Convention and how it cost GHW Bush the election? So many people were turned off by the hateful rhetoric from the podium and seeing Falwell & Robertson in the front row laughing it up whenever someone said anything ugly about poor people, etc.

That stuff was mild compared to the shit they fling 24/7 these days.

The difference? There was no Fox "News" in 1992; people could still be shocked by such blatant hatred and juvenile name-calling. 15 years of Fox has desensitized people.

Posted by: Jennifer on July 18, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I also seem to recall that a neo-nazi was discovered to be working in GHW Bush's White House, but little came of it. Well, he was Vice-President after all. It's not like anyone would ever impeach a sitting executive nowadays, it's not the crazy days of the 1860s....

Posted by: firefall on July 18, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The RW are bullies and it takes guts to stand up to bullies.

It is clear that the WH is too cowardly to call out the racism and insanity in the GOP. The RW, like all bullies, smells weakness and doubles down with the hatred and the thinly-veiled references to imminent violence.

Posted by: square1 on July 18, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

Posted by: Jon on July 18, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Herbert said it well:

"It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

Glenn Beck of Fox News has called President Obama a “racist” and asserted that he “has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, has said of Mr. Obama’s economic policies: “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars."

Posted by: a girl out east on July 18, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

"A lot of fringe Democrats called Reagan terrible names."

I never said that Speaker Tip O'Neil called him terrible names. I said "fringe Democrats".

All I did was ask questions.

There is no one so blind as he who will not see.

Posted by: neil wilson on July 18, 2010 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have to go this extreme or own up to their actions during the time they were in power. Being accountable for how they governed is worse than ruining the political debate in this country, so they took the path of least resistance. But they are just running the playbook that the creationists and other science-denying critics have been running: change the goalposts, lie like hell about the evidence, and make outrageous charges. It takes pages to refute the lies, so those who can make the 30-second sound bite win. It's just like the Clinton years: Ruby Ridge and Waco got blurred as happening under Clinton, when Ruby Ridge actually happened when GHW Bush was president. Same here: TARP happened under GW Bush, but Obama gets the blame (then is blasted for "blaming everything on Bush"). Don't know how to refute it as no reporter is going to rehash history in every piece.

Posted by: BC on July 18, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

And then you have neil wilson, who makes an accusation, then huffs that he "never said that Speaker Tip O'Neil called him terrible names. I said 'fringe Democrats'." Okay, what were the terrible names that the fringe Democrats called Reagan? All I remember is Bonzo, but that's because Reagan actually starred in a movie called "Bedtime for Bonzo" and his costar was a chimpanzee. And we never called Reagan Bonzo, we just said it seemed as though he thought we were Bonzo. The man was in the early stages of Alzheimers, for God's sake, but any talk about that was taboo. You could say he had a short attention span, but you could not say he was getting senile or had dementia. The media was down on that very fast. Even when he admitted he could not remember things, such as what happened during Iran Contra; even when he allowed Oliver North to bamboozle him with tales of being a Marine in Viet Nam to the point that Ollie North and the CIA ran drugs for the Nicaragua Contras; even when he fondly recalled his military campaigns during WWII and you remembered that all he did was star in war movies during that time. There were a lot of things that could have been said about Reagan that were true, but were never given wide coverage in the media.

Posted by: BC on July 18, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Per Neil Wilson: "A lot of fringe Democrats called Reagan terrible names. A lot of fringe Republicans called Obama terrible names."

In 1982 I was a registered Republican and a Reagan campaign volunteer. I remember Democrats arguing against Mr. Reagan's policies and actions but I don't remember them calling him anything worse than lazy and not so smart. If anyone had called him a Fascist Neo-Nazi, I'm sure that would have stuck in my mind. And I'm positive I'd have noticed if left-leaning people had been calling for armed insurrection without Democratic leadership stepping up to the plate.

There is no possible comparison between what's going on now and 1982. None. Which is why I'm no longer a Republican.

Posted by: Mand Cat on July 18, 2010 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK
If anyone had called him a Fascist Neo-Nazi, I'm sure that would have stuck in my mind.

I did, often. For a decade. Because it was true, and if it wasn't strictly true on some days, it was strictly true for people working out of his office, like Elliot Abrams and Ollie North and Ed Meese....who had no more use for the Constitution than my cat Max has for Paradise Lost.

I probably wasn't loud enough.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 18, 2010 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

The priggish pomposity of a neil wilson begs for some sort of angry reply .
Yeah right ...
When you are finished acting out your wee little drama , take a shower .

Posted by: FRP on July 18, 2010 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday I interrupted a guy at the pool going on about government takeovers and brandishing Beck-Limbaugh-Fox News non-facts to back up his claims. When he started on about this now being a "socialist" country that was confiscating his wealth, I called him out on it. We all need to push back assertively in public against this disinformation and challenge mischaracterizations of our government. We can't wait for the Republican leadership to do it.

Posted by: VAD on July 18, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Saying nothing gives them deniability while allowing them to act supportive. Hypocrisy is their governing principle.

The big difference is the megaphone. Dems do not have a 24/7 partisan propaganda news channel. And hate radio dominates the airwaves. This is one of the tactics utilized by the Nazis who have more in common with this republican megaphone for keeping anger, hate and blame fanning the flames of fascism.

Were it not for the internet we'd already be a plutocracy. The line is drawn and this is our last chance to keep the crazies out of government so we can recover from the last republican administration. The entire republican party is anti-democracy and must be fought off at every turn.

BTW...Democratic Socialism is the only current form of government which ensures both our survival and our freedom. Survival as a race(keeping corporations from destroying the environment, protecting and guaranteeing access for the necessities of life) and freedom as a democracy.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 18, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK
I never said that Speaker Tip O'Neil called him terrible names. I said "fringe Democrats".

Then why did you even bother? You were explicitly trying to create an equivalence between now and then, an equivalence that is entirely, and stupidly, false unless you can show that Democratic leaders, pundits, Congressmen, Senators, radio/tv hosts, and the like were behaving just as those same Republican leaders are behaving today.

There are *always* idiots on the fringe; always. When you try to equate a fringe to a mainstream, you just make yourself look stupid.

All I did was ask questions.

Yup, really dumb ones.

There is no one so blind as he who will not see.

Physician, heal thyself. Open your own eyes.

Posted by: PaulB on July 18, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

it should be noted that in the right's shrieking insanity dominating the media, they have shut down any possibility of discussing moderate or progressive policies. Even center right positions get shouted down immediately as left extremist.

Posted by: pluege on July 18, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

One of the biggest problems remains that the people best suited to stand up to the lunacy in the Republican Party became Democrats, which had the effect of moving both parties to the right, and the national discourse along with it.

One might think that the GOP, in being reduced to its lunatic element, would slowly wither away and die, and a new two-party dynamic created from a split among the Democrats' centrist and liberal elements. But the media, desperately needing to maintain its "he said/she said" conventions (lest they be forced to do some real reporting!) helps keep the Republicans propped up. Many in the Washington power sructure also would prefer that the GOP remain propped up, fearing that the appearances of a one-party state will undermine the power structure's legitimacy. Also, the GOP crazies are starting to carve out genuine political majorities in places like South Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee, building a geographic power base from which it will be hard to root them out.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on July 18, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

pluege,

Modern media has shut down any discussion.

There is absolutely nothing reasoned or calm about our modern media. I watched the other day as a card carrying conservative was threatened and shouted down by Mygen Kelly for not toeing the Fox party line.

Americans are not allowed to openly discuss any topic Rupert Murdock doesn't want discused.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 18, 2010 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's quite apparent that the Republicans have their "base" fired up. But the Republican base is now smaller than the Democratic base, so that means that not only do Republicans have to count on a considerable decrease in Democratic voters, they also have to get a good chunk of the independents.
Independents aren't known for voting in large numbers in off-year elections, which is why getting the base out is so important. So, if the Republican base is smaller than the Democratic base, that means the Republicans HAVE to get independent voters to win in November.
Republicans are offering the likes of Paul, Angle, more of what got us into this mess in the first place; I just don't see it...

Posted by: Doug on July 18, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's been clear for many years that the average GOP congress-creep would sell their daughters into sex-slavery, and sell their mothers for hamburger to gain the levers of Federal power.

They'll do anything at this point. They don't care in the least how they get power, as long as they get it, so they can give more of our tax money to the Owners, break the middle-class even further, and keep our fat M/I complex in the chips with foreign wars. Oh, and, of course, benefit themselves plenty in the process.

The entire GOP membership on Capitol hill is nothing but a pack of whores, and that is, really an insult to the average working girl/guy.

Or, if you find that offensive, consider them as a criminal gang. No different than the murderous bands that rove places like Somalia. The GOP is well on its way to turning this country into a Somalia, if you think about it, and they'd probably be ok with that too.

These guys are way beyond dangerous at this point and if they ever control congress and the White House again, you can really kiss your ass goodbye unless you're wealthy.

Posted by: LL on July 18, 2010 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

As long as things stay nonviolent, I think the Tea Partiers are entitled to their rage and paranoia. At least as much as I was entitled to mine.
Posted by: skeptic
~~~

The huge difference being that rage at W/Darth Cheney was based in fact and reality while the TP'ers paranoia of Obama is decidedly not.

Posted by: Hannah on July 18, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

One Republican that I do not "get" is Ohio Senator George Voinovich. He can do rough politics (he campaigned against Metzenbaum by calling him soft on child pornography, which was an outright slander), but he was not unreasonable as Cleveland mayor and Ohio governor, and he seems like someone who is in politics to find workable solutions (even if he and I would look for solutions in very different areas). I don't know how he is tolerating his colleagues, and I'm curious as to whether he'll say anything after he retires this fall. However, he got through the Bush era without having any perceptible qualms, so maybe I have too high an opinion of him.

Posted by: N.Wells on July 19, 2010 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

@art guerrilla on July 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Glad to see an IRV reference. Do you know of any major-party (probably Democratic) politician who has publicized the issue of electoral reform? I've long thought the Big Two try to keep the public ignorant about better options out of self-interest.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 19, 2010 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

It is a case of Get the President again, like with Clinton. The biggest difference being that Prsident Obama is the perfect target. Not only is he identified as black, but his father was African and Muslim.

Those who finance the Republican party could not resist using the tactics that we've seen in the last eighteen months.

As long as many white Americans would prefer to align themselves with those who have no interest in thir welfare as long as they are given targets to blame for their misfortunes. Give them scapegoats to point at for reasons why they have not succeeded as they would wish.

It's the Mexicans fault (illegals) that jobs are scarce. I's Obama's fault (blacks) that the economy tanked.

It's frightening because I believe that the likes of Rupert Murdoch desires race riots and other civil uprisings. Why else would he employ Glen Beck?

And what thinking person would listen to Beck.

Posted by: Idiot Watch on July 19, 2010 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

This is what I do not understand... Is why the "mainstream" media insists on not criticizing these people's ideas outright when the news staff and their corporate masters know that many if these people will cheerfully destroy the media's autonomy If elected.

What if that anti-obscenity law had been held up? What would a Republican Congress do next? Anti-defaminition of Christians? Market economies? Would they declare a national emergency and pass sedition laws?

It's happened before. Even PBS' quality is down from 2000, lots of junk filler shows like the sandwitch special.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 19, 2010 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

Pandora's Box has been opened in America, but it turns out it isn't a Box, it's a Tea Pot, and in this Tea Pot is a Tea Party, a raging insane right-wing tempest.

I doubt if we'll ever be able to put a lid on this, at least not in my lifetime, especially with so many Republican leaders going over to the dark side, repeating crap that has no basis in reality, condoning Timothy McVeigh-like extremists, coddling drug-addict nutjobs like Rush Limbaugh...and presumably expecting something good will arise from the ashes of our country that they seem hell-bent on leaving behind in their mad quest for conservative control of every aspect of our country.

Posted by: The Oracle on July 19, 2010 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

The framework of our media coverage of politics, which insists that there is a sane, sound point of view on each side to which equal respect must be paid, cannot accommodate a situation where one side has gone into the rabbit-hole.

Posted by: bob h on July 19, 2010 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

Read Barbara Tuchman's book, March of Folly. I picked it off the shelf at a used book store several years ago. It smelled of musty attics. The chapters about how Britain lost the colonies and the insane march to war in Vietnam (that began under Eisenhower, by the way) are particularly good. Thanks, Texas Aggie. I'll have to get it out and read it again.
Another chilling, more recent, book is Wingnuts, by John Avlon. He tries so hard to keep it balanced between Republicans and Democrats, but it was an impossible task.

Posted by: Pat Heefner on July 19, 2010 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

To save time, I think what we need to do is create a whole new class of verbs from a few proper nouns. A lot of people are just too stupid and lazy to apply the genuine lessons of history to current events, and instead wind up merely equating one thing they don't like with another thing in history they don't like either. In this case, all you have to do is say "...so and so 'hitlered' Obama.". Similarly, you could say, "... so and so(a right to lifer) 'schaivoed' a pro-choicer.". See how easy it is?

Posted by: ChrisR on July 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

@N.Wells...i live in ohio and i keep waiting to voinovich to do some helpful things now that he's retiring...but no dice...his last email [sent after he voted against the wall street reform bill]called fannie and freddy the central cause of the economic collapse...fauxnews koolaid drinking nonsense...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 19, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Much Republican hysteria is because deficit spending is likely to lead to the collapse of the dollar. Google - federal receipts - BO is planning $5t in new deficits his first 4 years. Can expect more if he is re-elected. $20t at 10% is $2t per year interest. Or roughly the same as current federal receipts. But the impending fiscal crisis does not bother the Democrats. That is because they could care less if rich Republicans lose their savings. To the Democrats it is just more "sharing the wealth."

Posted by: Tommie on July 20, 2010 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

The rise of the Tea Party fringe groups since President Obama was elected is based on "RACE" peroid.I personily experience this on election day,2008 without realizing it.My girlfriend voted republican because Mr Obama was "black".I voted against the "BUSH YEARS".Since the election,I don't agree with all of President Obama policies,but my lady friend has become a "diehard" teapartier because they are "White Americans" Her words.
How sad.

Posted by: HAWK on July 20, 2010 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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