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May 08, 2012 3:04 PM Some Dare Call It Treason

By Ed Kilgore

At Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein makes a good point about the brouhaha over Mitt Romney not contradicting a woman at one of his town hall meetings who said Obama should be tried for treason:

[I]f everything that Mitt Romney, Republican Members of Congress, and the other Republican presidential candidates say about Barack Obama was true, then Obama should be tried for treason. It’s that kind of rhetoric that’s the problem, not Romney’s immediate response to what someone says at a rally.

As Jonathan notes, encouraging “the crazy” has become an extraordinarily regular feature of GOP politics these days:

[W]hat Romney did say in answering the question [about Obama’s “treason”] was just about as goofy as what he didn’t say. The question was about Obama supposedly not governing within the Constitution, and Romney, in answering that, made sure to say that in his view the Constitution and the Declaration were “not just brilliant, but probably inspired.” Which is standard rhetoric these days within the GOP — it used to be good enough to just emphasize the Declaration (because it specifically invokes God), but now one has to pretend to believe that the United States is all special and all (that is, “exceptional”) because God wanted it that way. You know — in the old days, we would call that a “dog whistle” and move on, but I watched an awful lot of GOP debates this year, and the truth is that the presidential nomination was about 90% dog whistle and 10% substance. And that’s probably a generous reading.

So why should have Mitt Romney turned a hair when one of his supporters came out and said what his party’s rhetoric has been encouraging them to think all along? The “crazy people” aren’t just more honest than many conservative pols; in some respects, they are even more logical.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Gandalf on May 08, 2012 4:24 PM:

    I want one of these wackjobs to say just what it is that they think is the treason that Obama has committed. There actually is a real clearcut definition available.i think outing a CIA agent qualifies.

  • c u n d gulag on May 08, 2012 4:25 PM:

    Remember the old days, not so long ago, when criticizing the President beyond the border was considered behind the pale?

    And if it was you who criticized the President IN this country, that made you the traitor?

    Not anymore!
    Not since Blackie Obama became President!

    Don't worry, if he wins, criticize President Romney, anywhere, and you'll find yourself at Gitmo in a nano-second.

  • Tom Dibble on May 08, 2012 4:27 PM:

    The question was about Obama supposedly not governing within the Constitution, and Romney, in answering that, made sure to say that in his view the Constitution and the Declaration were “not just brilliant, but probably inspired.” Which is standard rhetoric these days within the GOP — it used to be good enough to just emphasize the Declaration (because it specifically invokes God), but now one has to pretend to believe that the United States is all special and all (that is, “exceptional”) because God wanted it that way.

    Not to be to simple on the topic, but that is essentially Official LDS Doctrine, as espoused in the scriptures "Doctrine and Covenants" (the fourth book of the "Quad") and discussed by numerous leaders of the Church. Here's Ezra Taft Benson on the topic in 1985 (who by that time was the President of the Church, appointed Profit and Revelator): http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/our-divine-constitution?lang=eng

    Such an assertion - that the US is God's plan for the world - may seem like stupid crazy talk to most of the world (and most of the US), but Romney's theology is quite explicit about this claim. It isn't just rhetoric or a dog-whistle; it is what he has ben taught and preached to others all his life.

  • boatboy_srq on May 08, 2012 4:40 PM:

    [I]f everything that Mitt Romney, Republican Members of Congress, and the other Republican presidential candidates say about Barack Obama was true, then Obama should be tried for treason.

    Once more, with feeling: IOKIYAR. These people obviously don't remember when critizing Shrub was disrespecting Teh Awfice of the Preznit and grounds for investigation and prosecution as One'o'Them Terrrrrists.

  • boatboy_srq on May 08, 2012 4:43 PM:

    @Gandalf / C U N D: Seems we're all channeling the same awareness. Either that or the memory-impairing aspects of GOP Kool-Aid don't affect us.

  • unabogie on May 08, 2012 5:19 PM:

    I have a neighbor, who used to be a friend, who once chided me (when Bush was the President) "I just think we all should come together and support our President in a time of war".

    After Obama was elected and Teabaggers were showing up at town halls wearing guns on their hips, I asked him if he still thought it was wrong to criticize the President during a time of war. He got so mad at me he hasn't spoken to me since.

  • mudwall jackson on May 08, 2012 6:15 PM:

    Not since Blackie Obama became President!

    hmmm. i'm trying to remember if the lunatic right ever criticized bill clinton. no of course not. he was white. his impeachment and subsequent trial was a symbol of their love and respect for the man and his ideas.

  • JackD on May 08, 2012 6:24 PM:

    Don't expect them to be reasonable or fair or polite. They are besides themselves with fury that Obama may even be reelected and they really can't see or think straight.

  • Martina on May 08, 2012 7:23 PM:

    It's tempting to believe that the Obama Campaign might have paid that woman to suggest that Obama should be tried for treason.

    It just highlights the problem that this is exactly what a significant portion of the Republican base believes. So it is not surprising that Romney had nothing to say - he was probalby a deer in the headlights. What could he do? He needs those idiots to turn out in November and if he deigned to rebuke that moron, he probably loses points among the already suspicious base.

  • Tyro on May 09, 2012 12:09 AM:

    now one has to pretend to believe that the United States is all special and all (that is, “exceptional”) because God wanted it that way.

    To be fair to Romney, what he said about the Constitution and Declaration being inspired by God is part of Mormon doctrine.

  • xpatriate on May 09, 2012 12:43 AM:

    Having grown up in John Birch Society country (founded in a living room 15 minutes from my Mom's house)I picked up on your clever rendering of the 60s JBS screed. Sad times indeed that General Ripper's heirs are being taken seriously and this treason and armed revolution talk is treated like normal political discourse with nary a peep from Republican "leaders" and commentariat. Is this just the "drunken spew and vomit of an uneasy civilization" losing their grip on power? Sounds too much like the dead-ender secessionists of 152 years ago for comfort.

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