Have They No Decency?

Why have so few Republicans stood up to condemn Allen West?

Over at CNN, John Avlon wonders why so few Republicans have stood up to condemn the claim made by Florida Congressman Allen West that nearly half of the members of the House Democratic Caucus are Communists:

Not only did West not apologize — or receive significant criticism from his fellow Republicans — his revealing response was to raise funds off it.

The number West picked out was apparently based on the number of congressmen affiliated with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This is an organization of the most liberal members of Congress, but to call them communists is a slander splashed with blood.

Communists, of course, murdered more than 100 million people in the past century, if you add up the rough total of butchery by Vladimir Lenin (Soviet Union), Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union), Mao Zedong (China) and Pol Pot (Cambodia). This is the reason people were understandably offended at Miami Manager Ozzie Guillen’s recent comments professing admiration for Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro.

To equate liberals in Congress with communists is like equating conservatives in Congress with fascists — something only the most brain-dead Occupy protester would attempt.

And just for a moment imagine if a liberal member of Congress made an equal and opposite accusation, saying that all the members of the tea party caucus were Nazis. It would be rightly greeted with wall-to-wall outrage.

But the asymmetric polarization of our politics has made such accusations within the easy reach of politically successful ideologues at unguarded moments.

West’s comments were simply extensions of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s infamous statement in 2008 about how then-candidate Barack Obama — and many Democratic members of Congress — held “anti-American views.”

They really believe this stuff: Anyone who is not avowedly conservative is considered liberal — and therefore anyone who is avowedly liberal is considered communist. This is not a little insane.

It is this logic also that allows conservative activists to paint Obama as socialist or communist. Anything even slightly left of center is immediately seen as extreme. Thereby ideas embraced by Republicans even a decade ago — such as the individual mandate to buy health insurance — are now seen as radical and a clear attempt to undermine the U.S. Constitution and replace freedom with socialism.

There’s very little that Avlon says here that I can disagree with, or that even comes close to being incorrect. As we’ve pointed out here at OTB many times, most recently in this excellent post by James Joyner, the goalposts of American conservatism have moved significantly over the past thirty years to the point where former Reagan Administration advisers like Bruce Bartlett and David Stockman are considered anathema because of their refusal to embrace the new orthodoxy, even though their actual positions have changed little since the days they served the man that conservatives continues to claim to revere.

It’s not just an ideological issue, though, because it is arguably true that the ideological differences among Republicans were even greater in Reagan’s era than they are today. On both sides of the political aisle, there is far less toleration for dissent than there used to be and, as the past several years in Congress have shown us, far less willingness to compromise. Whether you tune in to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel, you are presented with a vision of politics as a war where the other side must not just be beaten at the ballot box, but utterly defeated, discredited, and mocked. The only difference is that the identity of the enemy changes depending on which channel you happen to be watching.

The real problem, as Avlon notes, is that we’ve reached a point in our politics where incitement isn’t just a fringe activity, but a political strategy:

When a member of your “team” says something extreme, it is either ignored or excused by invoking extreme statements from the other side of the ideological gulf — therefore the conservative response to Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut was to try and make the debate about Bill Maher’s past statements about Sarah Palin.

An insensitive but not entirely inaccurate statement by liberal pundit Hilary Rosen is suddenly seen as serving as a surrogate for the Obama campaign despite their immediate denunciations of it. Extending this logic, Mitt Romney will be held that responsible for anything extreme conservative talking heads say in this campaign.

All of this is a by product of the “politics as war” ideology. If you view politics as a war then of course you’re going to be reluctant to attack members of “your side” even when they say something completely insane like Allen West did. In the same manner, when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut the reaction from most on the right wasn’t shock and horror, but to circle the wagons and to defend Limbaugh by joining in what clearly was a baseless and insulting charge hurled at a 30-odd year old law student. This is what conservatives have been taught to do, after all, not just by Limbaugh, but also by the late Andrew Breitbart and those who have taken over the operation of his websites since his passing. Indeed, the most common hashtags one saw on Twitter from conservatives on Twitter since Breitbart’s passing have been things like #IAmBreitbart and #War, the last one a clear indication of what these people consider politics to be.

As I noted, though, there are huge problems with conflating politics and war. Not only are you compelled to view your political opponents as enemies and defend even the most idiotic comments made by people on “your side,” even when a modicum of common sense would tell you not to do so, but you are adopting a governing philosophy that makes it impossible to govern. If you view politics as war, then it’s impermissible to consider opposing ideas, because doing so would be surrnder to the enemy. If you view politics as war, then anyone who dares to dissent from orthodoxy must be condemned and becomes one of the enemy. If you view politics as war, even the most minor policy issue is turned into the battle of the century when a more balanced view of things would tell you that some battles are more important than others. Most importantly, if you view politics as war, then compromise, which is the essence of governing, becomes impossible to accept. The result is gridlock of the worst kind.

In a rational era, it should not be hard for partisans to condemn the Allen West’s, or the Alan Grayson’s, of the world when they say stupid and outrageous things. The fact that so few Republicans have stood up and told Congressman West that he ought to apologize, not just to House Democrats, but indeed to all Americans for his vile McCarthyism, is nothing more than another example of how damaged our political culture has become. Unless it changes soon, I fear that we’ll find ourselves unable to deal with a real crisis when it presents itself.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    This is rich, coming from the King of “Both sides do it.”

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Doug: I agree, but with one minor quibble. Your MSNBC exemplar should be Ed Schultz, not Rachel Maddow. Maddow is definitely partisan, but she’s also smart, well-informed, listens to dissenting voices and is unfailingly civil to the other side. Ed Schultz is an angry windbag.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I assume the title is a rhetorical question!

  4. mattb says:

    Whether you tune in to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel,

    If you had used Sharpton or Shultz, I could agree with this. But why must it be pointed out again and again that Maddow is one of the most sane and gracious of the current grouping of pundit/personalities (not to mention among the most well versed in actual political theory).

    Heck even James noted in another post that “But Maddow is more akin to William F. Buckley or George Will, bringing the temperament of a Rhodes Scholar and Oxford PhD, not a street fighter or shock jock.” (https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/cal-thomas-rachel-maddow-and-civility/)

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Awesome…BOTH SIDES DO IT myopia masquerading as analysis.
    I agree this is not what could be called a rational era…but to blame both sides is lazy…and well, just wrong. Indeed by objective measure Republicans are frther to the extreme than they have been since the 18th Century.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/04/10/150349438/gops-rightward-shift-higher-polarization-fills-political-scientist-with-dread?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
    Prime example brought to light by the recent NRA convention. In ’08 we heard from the NRA that Obama was coming to take our guns. If anything gun rights have expanded under Obama. That is what some people would call compromise. All we heard out of this recent convention was how Obama is waiting for re-election so that he can come and take our guns.
    Health Care…Obama campaigned on single-payer, and indeed most liberals would prefer single-payer to the Republican plan we got. But that’s how compromise works. No Republicans voted for that Republican plan.
    The polarization we see today is driven by the sharp right-ward veer of Republicans in reaction to a moderate Democratic President. I’m not saying Democrats are without fault. But this pox-on-both-your-houses stuff is just nonsense.

    And FYI…comparing what Maddow does to what Hannity does is laughable.

  6. Vast Variety says:

    I think if you look closely you’ll find that the left is far more willing to negotiate and compromise than the right.

  7. mattb says:

    Bizarrely Doug, you wrote this about Maddow only a few months ago:

    I’ve met a few people on the right who have been guests on Maddow’s show and they’ve all said that they were treated fairly and respectfully. Yes, there’s obvious disagreements between the guest and the host but Maddow has never struck me as being like other hosts who bring on people with opposing points of view just to yell at them (Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Rellly, and Lawrence O’Donnell all play that game).
    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/cal-thomas-rachel-maddow-and-civility/#comment-1496977

    It seems to me that she represents a model for future engaged political discussion, not a convient “both side do it” proxy.

  8. mantis says:

    Extending this logic, Mitt Romney will be held that responsible for anything extreme conservative talking heads say in this campaign.

    Except he won’t. That’s only for Democrats.

  9. mattb,

    Except for the fact that Maddow is clearly more concerned with pushing an agenda than examining all sides of an issue. The small number of times she actually has a conservative guests would be the best evidence of that.

    But yes, you are correct that Schultz, Sharpton, or I would add, Lawrence O’Donnell, would be better examples.

  10. mantis says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Health Care…Obama campaigned on single-payer

    No he didn’t. He campaigned on universal coverage, but not single-payer.

  11. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    All side of the issue?! Are you arguing for the sort of naive objectivity that reduces to “all sides do it?”

    By that standard, what political media source survives? Heck, what media source survives?

    From that very line of argumentation, it’s clear we shouldn’t even engage with your posts Doug as on many issues it’s clear that a certain libertarian bias prevents you from examining ” all sides of an issue” (see your writings on Occupy as an example).

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with pushing an agenda within reporting or punditry. However, there are better and worse ways of doing it. And I challenge you to name a mainstream broadcaster currently better than Maddow at NOT reducing everything to war.

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The small number of times she actually has a conservative guests would be the best evidence of that.

    Dude… wait… what…?

  13. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Except for the fact that Maddow is clearly more concerned with pushing an agenda than examining all sides of an issue.”

    EVERBODY pushes an agenda. The question is whether your agenda-pushing is based on facts and logic. The problem with Hannity or Limbaugh or Levin isn’t their agenda. It’s their deceit, demagoguery and immature irrationality.

    Mike

  14. Mike,

    What you say is largely true of the entire lineup at MSNBC, which is why both networks are trash

  15. anjin-san says:

    Have They No Decency?

    No.

    And thank you for the false equivalence du jour.

  16. mantis says:

    While I agree with other commenters that a comparison between Hannity or Maddow is misplaced, let’s look at what Doug actually wrote:

    Whether you tune in to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel, you are presented with a vision of politics as a war where the other side must not just be beaten at the ballot box, but utterly defeated, discredited, and mocked.

    He’s talking about a “vision of politics” which, despite the fact that she is a much more fair and intelligent broadcaster, Maddow clearly embraces. It’s not unfair to say so. The entirety of cable news political reporting/commentary has this mindset.

  17. Tsar Nicholas says:

    West’s mistake here was using the term communists in lieu of the semantically and technically correct term: “socialists.” Now, obviously, that itself would strike a painful nerve with segments of the chattering classes, especially in various corners of the Internet, in the media and in the academe too. But the unfortunate reality is the current version of the Democrat Party, especially in the House, is so far out there on the extreme left it would make Francois Mitterrand blush.

    That aside, however, there are major differences between socialists and communists. If I were West I would combine an apology with a clarification and I’d make sure I pointed out actual voting records, campaign contributions and verbal and written statements by those in question. That wouldn’t be too difficult, mind you. Merely by way of example, look up some of Rep. McDermott’s, Rep. Waxman’s and Rep. Israel’s comments. Off the rails on a crazy train.

    As far as CNN’s John Avlon is concerned, and BTW I’ve never before heard of him, his righteous indignation is at one level somewhat amusing but ultimately it’s a high dudgeon moment without any real cause. West is a back bencher in the House with no real power and no real influence. If Cantor or Boehner had said something like this then Republicans undoubtedly would be asking them to walk it back. McConnell. Kyl. Obviously Romney.

    No offense to West, but he isn’t really at the level at which intraparty policing is necessary. The same holds true, incidentally, on the flip side of that coin, for the likes of James Moran, McDermott, Israel, Waxman, Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, McKinney, Kucinich, Rush, Conyers, Waters and Barbara Lee. Personally I’d also put Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in that category, but as DNC Chair you could make a reasonable case that when she throws Molotov cocktails there should be a party-based rebuke.

  18. grumpy realist says:

    This is what the collapse of the Soviet Empire has led to. We don’t have any enemies any more on the outside, so we’ve turned the war inwards.

    And yes, we’ve been training ourselves (thank you, talk-show hosts and idiotic MSM) to fight each other to the point that when there’s a real crisis, I doubt we will be able to actually pull together.

    I’m definitely not letting the media off of this. I don’t think that the media really care about anything, provided they can sell as many eyeballs as possible. As far as they’re concerned, it’s going to all happen down at the peon level, with them training their cameras on the crowd from the 20th floor and selling the whole mess to the unwashed hordes as cinema verite.

    We don’t deserve another century.

  19. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What you say is largely true of the entire lineup at MSNBC, which is why both networks are trash

    So what about other “agenda” outlets?

    – Reason
    – American Conservative
    – TaNashsi Coates
    – Sully
    – NRO
    – Larison
    – anyone who writes anything remotely political…

    In one fell swoop you’ve just managed to enact the greatest “all sides do it” and apparently they’re all trash of all times.

  20. Mikey says:

    If you view politics as war, even the most minor policy issue is turned into the battle of the century when a more balanced view of things would tell you that some battles are more important than others.

    And holy crap, haven’t we seen a lot of this lately.

    West’s comments are ludicrous. I often say, when a liberal friend equates conservatives with Nazis, “if everyone is Hitler then no one is Hitler.” Well, the same is true of the Communists and Stalin, who were responsible for far MORE deaths than Hitler.

    I do wonder if it wouldn’t be better sometimes to just ignore such nonsense, that maybe a big loud denunciation would give it more exposure than it would have gotten otherwise (and certainly more than it deserves). But at the same time, it’s hard to let someone just get away with saying something so asinine.

    One more item for the “if you view politics as war” list: War encourages–even requires–combatants to dehumanize the enemy. How are we supposed to engage in anything approaching reasoned discussion with people whom we don’t consider people?

  21. mattb says:

    @mantis: I still don’t buy it. Maddow, outside of certain issues, does not regularly engage in the politics of destruction. She really doesn’t. Doug’s point about having alternative views on and treating them respectfully speaks to exactly the opposite.

    By the same token, look at the way that Doug has treated Occupy protesters or the more vocal sides of the tea party in his posts over the last few years. In both cases he’s clearly ground his own axes about what he sees as worthless/usless political stuff. I’d challenge you to find many cases where he “looked for both sides of the issue” or treated either as legitimate forces/voices within out larger political discourse. I would suggest that in many cases he did exactly what he seems to be damning others with.

  22. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “What you say is largely true of the entire lineup at MSNBC, which is why both networks are trash”

    While the folks at MSNBC can get pretty ridiculous, there’s a big difference between then and FOX. The people at MSNBC do not willfully make things up. Their coverage of issues may be incredibly biased but it’s based on things are are true. When Rachel Maddow calls Bob McDonnel “Governor Vaginal Probe” it’s not based on some crazy delusion. It’s based on him supporting a bill that would have required women to get an unneeded vaginal probe before an abortion. That’s not the same as what goes on at FOX.

    Mike

  23. MBunge says:

    @mantis: “He’s talking about a “vision of politics” which, despite the fact that she is a much more fair and intelligent broadcaster, Maddow clearly embraces.”

    Watch Maddow interview someone from her side and someone from the other team. Watch Hannity do the same. You can’t tell me they’re approaching things from the same place.

    Mike

  24. mattb says:

    lest I lose the forest for a tree — Wow, this particular paragraph is absolute gold (and deserves broader circulation):

    there are huge problems with conflating politics and war. Not only are you compelled to view your political opponents as enemies and defend even the most idiotic comments made by people on “your side,” even when a modicum of common sense would tell you not to do so, but you are adopting a governing philosophy that makes it impossible to govern. If you view politics as war, then it’s impermissible to consider opposing ideas, because doing so would be surrnder to the enemy. If you view politics as war, then anyone who dares to dissent from orthodoxy must be condemned and becomes one of the enemy. If you view politics as war, even the most minor policy issue is turned into the battle of the century when a more balanced view of things would tell you that some battles are more important than others. Most importantly, if you view politics as war, then compromise, which is the essence of governing, becomes impossible to accept. The result is gridlock of the worst kind.

    Incredibly well said Doug! Big thumb up.

  25. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    West’s mistake here was using the term communists in lieu of the semantically and technically correct term: “socialists.”

    BS. He called them Communist Party members, not just communists. He knew exactly what he was doing, and the intent was to raise money off of it, which he did.

    Now, obviously, that itself would strike a painful nerve with segments of the chattering classes, especially in various corners of the Internet, in the media and in the academe too.

    Democrats are called socialists every single day in every right wing media outlet in the country (and there are a lot of them). Do you see the “chattering classes” go crazy every time it happens (which is always)? No, you do not.

    But the unfortunate reality is the current version of the Democrat Party

    No such party exists in this country. Are you a foreigner or something? Oh yeah, you’re from 19th century Russia. Do try to catch up.

    especially in the House, is so far out there on the extreme left it would make Francois Mitterrand blush.

    Only in the reality-challenged world of rightwingers who now pretend that proposals from the Heritage Foundation were written by Stalin.

    If I were West I would combine an apology with a clarification and I’d make sure I pointed out actual voting records, campaign contributions and verbal and written statements by those in question. That wouldn’t be too difficult, mind you. Merely by way of example, look up some of Rep. McDermott’s, Rep. Waxman’s and Rep. Israel’s comments.

    Those aren’t examples, Nicky. Please provide actual examples of their communist screeds.

    West is a back bencher in the House with no real power and no real influence.

    How high up must a member of Congress ascend before what he/she says matters, exactly?

  26. Hey Norm says:

    “…West’s mistake here was using the term communists in lieu of the semantically and technically correct term: “socialists.” Now, obviously, that itself would strike a painful nerve with segments of the chattering classes, especially in various corners of the Internet, in the media and in the academe too. But the unfortunate reality is the current version of the Democrat Party, especially in the House, is so far out there on the extreme left it would make Francois Mitterrand blush…”

    You have to be completely untethered from reality to type that paragraph with a straight face.

  27. mantis says:

    @MBunge:

    Watch Maddow interview someone from her side and someone from the other team. Watch Hannity do the same. You can’t tell me they’re approaching things from the same place.

    I’m not talking about their interview styles. Cable news is built on the concept of political war. Maddow and Hannity have different tactics, but they are both warriors fighting for their side on the same battlefield. That’s all I’m saying, and I think that is what Doug is saying.

    For instance, I think this was an incredible piece by Maddow on the many and constant lies of Mitt Romney. It was about as good as you’re going to get in cable political news. However, it is firmly within the “politics as war” milieu.

  28. MBunge says:

    @mantis: “Maddow and Hannity have different tactics, but they are both warriors fighting for their side on the same battlefield.”

    Except, what is the first casualty of war? Truth. It is simply not the case that Maddow takes the same attitude toward the truth as Hannity.

    This is not just a matter of semantics or being a fan of Maddow. It is about being able to conceive of politics as something other than war. Maddow is an advocate. Hannity is a warrior. One cares about being correct. The other only cares about his side being victorious. One contributes to a healthy democracy. The other poisons it.

    Mike

  29. anjin-san says:

    the semantically and technically correct term: “socialists.”

    Ah socialists. You must mean socialists like Michelle Bachmann, who does not seem to mind cashing government subsidy checks.

  30. mantis says:

    It is simply not the case that Maddow takes the same attitude toward the truth as Hannity.

    I agree, and have not argued otherwise.

  31. Jarett says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Maddow likes to be silly and self-deprecating, but she’s not kidding when she gets ridiculously excited to have conservatives guests on her show. She is CONSTANTLY trying. They turn her down.

  32. Tillman says:

    A good example of Maddow taking on the role of a political warrior is her pastime of denouncing PolitiFact when they happen to disagree with her.

    The one time I recall was back in February when Marco Rubio said a majority of the population identify as conservative, and PolitiFact rated it Mostly True. (Clickers will note they’ve changed to the far more accurate Half True.) Maddow devoted a segment on her show to discussing this, and in comparing the two, Maddow comes off as mostly shilling for a partisan agenda.

    Now, their original ruling was worth calling out, but not the way she did, especially for someone with a reputation for elevating political discourse.

  33. mattb says:

    @Tillman:
    Again, I’m not saying that Maddow is objective. Nor is she. And yes, that advocacy can be aggressive in certain areas.

    But again, can anyone name me a pundit — including folks who run this blog – who don’t sometimes push that advocacy line. Does that negate their other efforts? Does that relegate them to the same level as Shultz, Sharpton, Hannity, or Limbaugh?

  34. Tillman says:

    @mattb: It doesn’t, but since all we have in this lifetime is our own slice of experiences, it’s worth noting these things.

    I agree Maddow isn’t comparable to Hannity except in the narrow way Doug did, but it doesn’t say much that the only defense that can be mustered is “everyone else does this crap too, she just does it less.”

  35. Davebo says:

    But again, can anyone name me a pundit — including folks who run this blog – who don’t sometimes push that advocacy line.

    Doug comes to mind. At least no consistently. More of a complain about everyone advocate who sometimes forgets the points he made last week or month on the opposite.

  36. @Tsar Nicholas:

    In my youth, socialists still wanted to own things. They wanted to own the means of production. They wanted their (mostly northern European) governments to own large and permanent stakes in their largest corporations. It was British Leyland in action. “Nationalization” is the key word.

    What we commonly call “socialist” in 2012 America is … anything right of right, actually.

  37. al-Ameda says:

    Maybe it’s because a majority of the Republican House probably agrees with West.

  38. The small number of times she actually has a conservative guests would be the best evidence of that.

    Maddow cannot be blamed for that. She’s constantly trying to get “conservative guests” on her show but many of them refuse to come. Because, of course, they know that although they will be treated with courtesy and respect, they will also be asked tough questions.

    Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney, Sarah Palin, all are people Maddow has BEGGED to come on her show, and they won’t. I know there are others just as high profile, but these are the ones I can name off the top of my head.

    That said, some conservatives *have* agreed to come on the show — to their credit. Maddow has interviewed many, many well-known political figures whose views are diametrically opposed to hers.

    I know you get a lot of bruises from readers here, but comments like this about Maddow are part of the reason why. I mean, you could not possibly be watching Maddow on any kind of a continuing basis if you could make the claim that there are “a lack of conservative guests” on her show. I don’t know if it’s laziness, or what, but you clearly are not doing the homework that you need to do before throwing out statements like this.

  39. mattb says:

    @Tillman:

    I agree Maddow isn’t comparable to Hannity except in the narrow way Doug did, but it doesn’t say much that the only defense that can be mustered is “everyone else does this crap too, she just does it less.”

    But, shine that narrow lens on any public media advocate and I challenge you to find any other defense. That’s my point… Isn’t this also true of Andrew Sullivan on numerous issues (beginning, but in no meals limited to Gay rights) or Ta-Nehisi Coates when the topic is racial justice? At the end of the day, how is their approach all that different than Maddow’s?

  40. steve says:

    West is a f***ing coward. He was a disgrace to our military, and remains so in office. However, his place in the party is a feature, not a bug. He will be lauded, not condemned. The military got rid of him. The GOP will keep him.

    Steve

  41. giantslor says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I haven’t watched Ed Schultz much at all, but from the little I’ve seen, he also seems smart and well-informed. I liked him better than Olbermann.

  42. giantslor says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I guess if Maddow had agreed with her conservative guests and recanted her progressive views, then she would be sufficiently open-minded for you, right?

    Maybe it’s that her conservative guests have idiotic views that they need to be disabused of? Ever consider that?

  43. An Interested Party says:

    Unless it changes soon, I fear that we’ll find ourselves unable to deal with a real crisis when it presents itself.

    That brings up an interesting point…how would Republicans respond if something like 9/11 happened on this President’s or any Democratic president’s watch?

    @mattb: It’s not bizarre at all for Doug…he’s so wedded to his “both sides do it” meme that he will even contradict himself and bend so far over backwards to continue pushing that meme that he’ll be able to see his own cheeks…

    West’s mistake here was using the term communists in lieu of the semantically and technically correct term: “socialists.”

    And anyone else’s mistake would be to take anything you write seriously rather than mocking all of it as the utter horse$hit that it is…

  44. Rob Wilson says:
  45. mantis says:

    @Rob Wilson:

    Doug, Looks like you got schooled here:

    Yeah, schooled but a deranged McCarthyite twerp who thinks elections are coups (when the guy they don’t like loses) and has an extreme obsession with (fictional) lack of deference to flags. This is in his response to Doug M.:

    Progressivism is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. I sincerely hope that, in the not too distant future, any self-admitted “progressive” will be ineligible to hold public office. Because you can’t be a progressive and honestly take an oath to uphold the Constitution.

    Notice how so many people who scream “communist!” or “socialist!” all the time are also those who advocate authoritarianism and witchhunts? Curious, that.

  46. giantslor says:

    @mantis: That’s honest-to-goodness fascism right there. Wow.

  47. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mantis: Extending this logic, Mitt Romney will be held that responsible for anything extreme conservative talking heads say in this campaign.

    Except he won’t. That’s only for Democrats.

    Please. Obama isn’t held responsible for anything others say or do, no matter how closely he was tied to them: Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Valerie “The Slumlord” Jarrett, or any of the crooks out of Chicago.

    West reminds me a bit of the various and sundry bomb-throwers on the Left, such as the aforementioned former Congressman Grayson, but he also has, politically, a bit of Ulysses Grant in him. “We can’t spare this man, he fights!”

    I’d be nervous about him having any kind of position of authority in the House, but I think I’d rather have him in power than Charlie Rangel, that nutty Texas Congresswoman who put on the pink Stetson to talk about how Trayvon Martin was hunted down and killed, Maxine Waters, or a host of others I could name.

  48. bains says:

    There’s very little that Avlon says here that I can disagree with, or that even comes close to being incorrect. As we’ve pointed out here at OTB many times, most recently in this excellent post by James Joyner, the goalposts of American conservatism have moved significantly over the past thirty years…

    And as I have pointed out, and James and Steven have admitted to, the perception that those goal posts on the right that you claim are moving, may be just because you are moving further left.

  49. Doubter4444 says:

    @bains:
    Are you really claiming that a congressman how stands up and claims that there are 80 communists in the house is an example of moving goalposts left?
    That no one on the republican side stands up to his over the top rhetoric is an example of leftward drift in the political landscape?

    Again, that’s why it’s hard to take you and your ilk seriously. This is not about down dings… it’s about reality, and seeing things for what they are, and frankly, it’s bizarre that smart people just refuse to accept it.
    So, honestly, we are not moving left. We just are not.

  50. Molon Lobe says:

    Craven, pathetic, and devoid of reason. Sir have you no common sense or education? You are to Congressman West what a slug is to Ronald Reagan.

  51. Tillman says:

    @Rob Wilson: Man, I hope I don’t end up on any DHS watch-lists for clicking that link.

  52. Ken says:

    “Whether you tune in to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel, you are presented with a vision of politics as a war”

    Really? I mean… really?

    On the one hand we have a Rhodes Scholar with a PhD in politics from one of the most prestigious Universities in the world. She is unfailingly polite, exhibits a remarkable depth of knowledge on the subjects she speaks of, and attacks opposing viewpoints with a calm, sometimes sarcastic humor backed up by an array of pertinent, in-context facts.

    On the other hand we have a college dropout who regularly engages in vicious character assassination, equating liberals and progressives with criminals and terrorists, whose idea of insightful criticism is calling the President an “elitist” for eating arugula, who regularly derides unions despite being in one, and who counts among his “Very Good Friends” such luminaries as Oliver North, Ted Nugent, Hal Turner, and G Gordon Liddy.

    So yeah, we know that BOTH SIDES DO IT is your schtick, and that you must present every discussion in a manner consistent with this strong moral principle you value so highly. But this is Jonah “the Nazis were actually lefties” Goldberg level ridiculous.

  53. pcbedamned says:

    And as I have pointed out, and James and Steven have admitted to, the perception that those goal posts on the right that you claim are moving, may be just because you are moving further left.

    @Doubter4444:

    Actually Doubter, if you reread what was actually said by ‘bains’, the gist of his comment was not that the ‘country’ is moving left – he was implying that maybe, just maybe, it is ‘Doug’ who is.

    This is a prime example of reading and comprehending something through ones own bias. Most of us do this without even realizing it. Therefore, before throwing blame at anyone re: stating that “everyone does it”, take a look to see if it is not possibly true.

    ***This reminds me of when I am trying to get a point across to one of my Teen Terrors. I can actually see in their eyes that rather than ‘listening’ to what I am actually saying, they are forming their counter-argument. Oy..

  54. mantis says:

    Obama isn’t held responsible for anything others say or do, no matter how closely he was tied to them

    More reality-challenged statements. Just last week, Republicans gave the full court press to tie a comment from CNN analyst Hillary Rosen to Obama. They lied repeatedly, saying that she is an “advisor” to the White House and a DNC analyst, when she is neither. The press played along, as they always do.

    Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Valerie “The Slumlord” Jarrett, or any of the crooks out of Chicago.

    Yeah, Obama never had to answer for any of those people! You live in an imaginary world, wingnut.

  55. Doubter4444 says:

    @pcbedamned:
    Actually, no.
    You said:

    Actually Doubter, if you reread what was actually said by ‘bains’, the gist of his comment was not that the ‘country’ is moving left – he was implying that maybe, just maybe, it is ‘Doug’ who is.

    But you had either not read the other thread, or ignore it, where in Bains said:

    …From my perspective – and my core values haven’t trended one way or another for a while – it is “liberals” that have moved quite markedly left. To claim that Reagen or JFK would be eschewed by today’s party is ridiculous and demagogic. But it seems to me that the left has moved much further away from the policies and agendas of each icon than has the right.

    He’s clearly and repeatedly saying that the country, or the Democratic or Left leaning part of it politically, have moved radically leftward, thereby creating the dynamic that is happening today.

    Not the right going further right, against all rational evidence.

    Furthermore, do you deny that a major part of the the efforts to constrict the president center around the the core belief that the left is out of control, that it’s (or he) is pushing an agenda that moves us toward Socialism, Marxism and Communism?
    I mean that kind of the point of the entire post, no?

  56. the Q says:

    I happen to have, on a piece of paper in my hand, a note from a Filipino hooker that states a certain Black ex General from Florida who is now a congressman has syphillis and his brain is rotting.

    As proof, just look up his record for uttering the most astounding observations which border on insane.

  57. Eric Florack says:

    If you make such judgements by their words and actions… and what else have we to go on…, West has it nailed.