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May 17, 2013 4:45 PM When Grown-Ups Act Out

By Ed Kilgore

If you want a good assessment of the distance the Republican Party has traveled in the starboard direction recently, don’t just look at what the overtly crazy people are saying. Look at what the alleged “grown-ups” of the GOP are saying. It can be shocking—kind of like seeing your favorite prim-and-proper elementary school teacher on the Strip in Vegas hooched-up and raging.

This occurred to me today upon reading a dispatch from the Georgia Republican State Convention by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Jim Galloway:

When it came to the burgeoning Internal Revenue Service scandal, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson on Friday managed to squeeze 10 minutes of outrage into the four minutes allotted him before a sparsely populated state Republican convention.
Isakson told the crowd, in the first hour of its two-day meeting, that the Senate Finance Committee - on which he sits, and which oversees the IRS - had just agreed to have outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller questioned by the panel next week about elevated scrutiny given tea party and patriot groups seeking tax-exempt status.

But did ol’ Johnny—a famously calm veteran pol who has often been accused of excessive moderation by his fellow Republicans (google “RINO Johnny Isakson” and you get a vast number of hits)—express his detached objectivity going into these hearings? Not so much:

“I’ve seen lots of things I did not like. I’ve seen lots of things about government that I loathe. But I’ve never seen anything worse that what appears to have happened in Internal Revenue. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will not sleep until every individual is called forward and everybody’s asked this simple question: ‘Who gave you the okay? Who gave you the order to do this?’ They’re not going to tell me it was these two little agents in Cincinnati, Ohio. I think it went a lot higher than that, and we need answers.”

Isakson’s been in public office for thirty-two of the last thirty-six years. This is the worst thing he’s ever seen? He’s not going to sleep until all his questions are answered?

Lord-a-mercy. If a state Republican convention drives Johnny Isakson to this kind of rhetoric, what on earth will Paul Broun say? They may have to put up Gallagher-style plastic protective sheets so front-row delegates are not drowned in the flying spittle and bile.

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.

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