Sunday, August 16, 2009

In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition.

It's well worth reading Rick Perlstein's entire article. He is basically reminding us that the Republicans have been crazy for as long as anyone can remember and that their recent reaction to losing power is nothing which we haven't seen before.

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House "found in the files a blueprint for socializing America."

When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his proposals to anchor America's nuclear defense in intercontinental ballistic missiles -- instead of long-range bombers -- and form closer ties with Eastern Bloc outliers such as Yugoslavia were taken as evidence that the young president was secretly disarming the United States. Thousands of delegates from 90 cities packed a National Indignation Convention in Dallas, a 1961 version of today's tea parties; a keynote speaker turned to the master of ceremonies after his introduction and remarked as the audience roared: "Tom Anderson here has turned moderate! All he wants to do is impeach [Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl] Warren. I'm for hanging him!"

Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn't lack for subversives -- anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and '50s.

So, what we are witnessing at the moment is not some new wave of outrage because Obama is talking about "socialising" healthcare; we are witnessing the latest incarnation of Republican anger at no longer controlling the direction America is moving in.

The funniest part of all of this is that the Republicans and their supporters, for all their talk of exporting democracy, really loathe the democratic system the minute it delivers a result which removes them from power.

At that point there is really nothing too crazy for them to believe in, and the recent "birther" argument is no more nuts than their claims that Kennedy's plans to put nuclear weapons on to intercontinental ballistic missiles was an attempt to disarm.

These buggers have always been crazy. What's surprising is that each time they reveal just how insane they are, we act as if we are discovering it anew.

Click title for Perlstein's article.

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