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April 06, 2012 11:38 AM Oh, Those Republicans

By Jonathan Bernstein

So which was the best “there’s something seriously wrong with this party” episode this week? Was it Rick Santorum stating as fact the entirely made up, entirely false, entirely wrong, entirely without even a kernel of truth idea that California colleges don’t teach history? Or the 5th Circuit temper tantrum?

I’ve said it before, but it’s really one of the central realities in US politics these days, and so it’s worth pounding home constantly: there is no equivalency whatsoever between the parties on this dimension these days.  Left and right both, to be true, generate nonsense like this. No, they really do. I suppose centrists, and any other group you can imagine, generates nonsense like this, and as far as I can tell it’s more or less in similar amounts and with similar lack of connection to reality.

But this is a panel of Federal Appeals Court judges, and a presidential candidate who won several states and the second-largest amount of votes and delegates. You simply won’t get anything remotely similar on the Democratic side. Nor are these isolated incidents; you can find fairly similar stuff from leading Republicans all the time. Nor, by the way, is this the kind of spin and massaging of the facts that all politicians do all the time. It’s just loony behavior by people who aren’t supposed to do that.

Anyway: the Justice Department response is out on the 5th Circuit thing, and Jack Balkin summarized it and concluded:

One hopes that, in light of these remarks, a great weight has now been lifted from Judge Smith’s shoulders. Perhaps now, having received assurances from the President of the United States that he actually possesses the powers of judicial review, Judge Smith can at last breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief. Armed with a new-found confidence, and the support of the Administration, perhaps he will now be able to put aside the distractions that have caused him such emotional turmoil in recent days. Perhaps, indeed, he may now, with equanimity, and a cheerful countenance, be able to return to the task of deciding the cases and controversies that are actually brought before him, as opposed to the remarks of politicians and media operatives that have almost nothing to do with his job.
Our prayers are with Judge Smith in his never-ending fight against anxiety and emotional upheaval. Surely there is no greater hell than that suffered by a person who cannot control his feelings of dread, and who finds himself buffeted about by a secret, gnawing fear that others do not accord him the respect and status that he craves. All of us can sympathize with the plight of Jerry Smith; all of us, in our own ways, have experienced our own dark nights of the soul. Your Honor— and we use that term advisedly—we feel your pain. 

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.