The Other

While I’m generally on the other side of the issue, Josh Marshall is one of several left-of-center bloggers I read because he’s interesting, thoughtful, and generally fair.  But even he falls for a rather common trope: The belief that your opponents are crazy.

As our team has reported on at some length already, there appears to be a reasonably well-orchestrated national effort to mobilize teabaggers to go and shutdown these townhall events with raucous demonstrations and generally making it impossible for the members of Congress to talk. But that’s not the most interesting part of watching this drama unfold.

The truth is that there’s actually quite a lot of authenticity packed into these events, often a bit more, sometimes quite a bit more than the partisans helping put this stuff together end up being comfortable with. Maybe the best example was back last year when the dying McCain-Palin campaign was toying with that proto-birther ‘Obama’s a scary Arab terrorist’ craziness and then had those awkward moments like the time McCain had to snatch the mic away from that woman who started commiserating with him about how Obama was an Arab.

That’s the thing about where the GOP is right now. I don’t question that they’ve gotten some traction on a range of issues over the last month or so. But they’re still relying on some pretty far-out, alienated and often just generally whacked out folks to puts the gusts of wind into their sails.

Now, none of that is wrong. There are a lot of angry nuts on my side of the aisle.  They simply can’t believe that Barack Obama somehow got elected president and they feel powerless right now.

But here’s the thing:  There’s plenty of crazy to go around.  Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome?  The 9/11 conspiracy theorists who thought Bush and Cheney were in on the whole thing?  The Diebold plot to steal the 2004 election?  Should we judge the Left by the whackos that show up at the anti-trade rallies?  PETA?  Greenpeace?  Of course not.  Almost by definition, the people motivated and available enough to show up in the middle of the day to express their outrage about something are not like you and me.

Professional intellectuals surround themselves with likeminded folks and get the idea that they and their cohorts are the norm for their group whereas the crazies on TV are the norm for the opposition.  It just ain’t so.

Photo by Flickr user california cowgirl1 under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I’ll just make a point I’ve made previously:

    The three most influential people in the Democratic Party: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and probably Max Baucus.

    The three most influential people in the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Orly Taitz.

    Did the Democrats ever advance Truther legislation as GOP Congressmen have done with Birther legislation? Have we ever had one of our chairmen openly genuflecting to a race-baiting radio clown?

    Rational Republicans like you, James, want to believe it’s still your party, that somehow people like you are running the show. But you long ago lost control. You invited the crazies into the tent and profited from them electorally, and now they’re the bolsheviks and you guys are the mensheviks and it ain’t your party anymore.

    Sorry, but the Democratic Party has nuts. The GOP is nuts.




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  2. sam says:

    Now, none of that is wrong. There are a lot of angry nuts on my side of the aisle. They simply can’t believe that Barack Obama somehow got elected president and they feel powerless right now.

    But here’s the thing: There’s plenty of crazy to go around.

    I don’t think Josh would deny that last (nor would I), but like Michael says, right now, the GOP nuts is the GOP. Guys like you, thoughtful and fair, have been marginalized in the party. The thing is, “the people motivated and available enough to show up in the middle of the day to express their outrage about something” are also those folks who will vote that outrage in primaries, and who do you think will get their vote, the thoughtful and fair guy, or the likeoutofhisminded dude?




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  3. billindc says:

    James,

    The big difference is that the ‘truthers’, Code Pink and their ilk were soundly and publicly rejected by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

    Quite the opposite is happening in the GOP because party leaders fear offending the ‘silent minorty’ might reduce the GOP to a collection of think tanks.

    The conundrum is that today’s GOP is doubling down on the Southern Strategy because it’s become a regionally southern party and it’s become a regionally southern party because of the Southern Strategy.

    The sooner somebody cuts that Gordian knot the better for all concerned (even Democrats like me).




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  4. The protesters are just following dear leaders directives.

    In Elko, Obama tried to anticipate his critics and called on the crowd of about 1,500 to sharpen their elbows, too.

    “I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” he said.

    Are you saying that Obama was in any way fallible and wrong?




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  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Megan McArdle put it pretty well six years ago:

    Jane’s Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.




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  6. kth says:

    Viewed from the outside: the Left in this country has always been distrustful of the Democratic Party. People equally aggrieved and distant from the center, but of the right, have been far more integrated institutionally into the GOP.

    Part of this asymmetry is in numbers: basically, most of the people who think there is something profoundly wrong with this country, the people most alienated from the status quo, the people whose vision of this country differs the most from what it is now–most of those people are on the right. Due to this simple numerical imbalance, Republicans can’t afford to ignore the radical right the way the Dems can the radical left.




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  7. William d'Inger says:

    I think you missed the point entirely. It’s not about what the intellectuals think. They’re smart. They know the truth. It’s about what they say. Their only goal is to delude the gullible public with propaganda like “… the Democratic Party has nuts. The GOP is nuts.” in the hope it will keep them in political power in perpetuity.




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  8. Shakespeare had Macbeth say this many moons ago:
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague th’ inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
    To our own lips.

    Payback’s a bitch, glass houses, takes one to know one, and a few more cliches come to mind. You know, Republicans can follow Saul Alinsky’s book too.




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  9. Dave Schuler says:

    The big difference is that the ‘truthers’, Code Pink and their ilk were soundly and publicly rejected by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

    Were they?

    Citations would be helpful, particularly from Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean.




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  10. Furhead says:

    The three most influential people in the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Orly Taitz.

    Rush, yes. The others, no … or at least now that we know for sure that Orly Taitz is passing around forgeries. Beck is a nobody, intellectually and otherwise.

    Jane’s Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

    Words to live by. How is Rove’s permanent majority doing these days? My guess is about as well as Reid & Pelosi’s will be doing in 2014 (but I suspect Obama will still be President). Of course, predictions are quite difficult, especially about the future …




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  11. Boyd says:

    Just because you pay attention to Orly Taitz doesn’t mean Republicans do, Michael. I guarantee I can ask 100 Republicans and conservatives around me, and 95 of them will have never heard of her.

    Influential? Not hardly.

    And what could be a reasonable argument gets completely undermined by ad hominem modifiers. Of course, this begs the question: if you’re really a race-baiting lunatic, is it ad hominem to mention that?




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  12. Steve Plunk says:

    The Lefties couldn’t wait to jump in and define the Republican party. What a surprise. Of course they’re wrong.

    The Republican leadership is more than a few outspoken entertainers. Newt, Boehner, Will, guys like that are the real leaders. While the Left wants to paint us their way in order to weaken us the reality is different.

    Dave Schuler points out there was no real repudiation of the kooky leftists groups and he’s right. Pelosi and Waxman needed that support and welcomed it.

    The Dems see us as evil, mean, and crazy. Demonizing your opponents is a lazy way to fight over policy difference. The Republicans see Dems as misguided and naive. Not evil. To me that is the more realistic, mature way of approaching those opponents.




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  13. ggr says:

    Just because you pay attention to Orly Taitz doesn’t mean Republicans do, Michael. I guarantee I can ask 100 Republicans and conservatives around me, and 95 of them will have never heard of her.

    Influential? Not hardly.

    Or Glen Beck … had to Google because I’d never heard of him.

    There are plenty of crazies in every party, and its just politics as usual to try to hide your party’s under the carpet and misrepresent the opposition’s as the party norm.

    And people wonder why almost half of the country never bothers to vote – tweedle dee and tweedle dum. Though I guess the Simpson’ episode captured it best.




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  14. Phil Smith says:

    The big difference is that the ‘truthers’, Code Pink and their ilk were soundly and publicly rejected by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

    To put Dave’s point more bluntly: bullshit. Cites – put up or shut up.




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  15. James Joyner says:

    The three most influential people in the Democratic Party: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and probably Max Baucus.

    The three most influential people in the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Orly Taitz.

    I think this is wrong for both parties. The Dems are the in-party so, yes, their in-office politicians are their leaders. But I’d say it’s Obama, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. Hillary is a bit player at this point and Baucus is an influential apparatchik.

    I’m not sure who the Republican influencers are right now but I don’t think any of those three are on the list. I’d never heard of Ortiz until she was on one of the Comedy Central “news” shows the other day and Beck is just some yahoo with a TV show.




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  16. Derrick says:

    To put Dave’s point more bluntly: bullshit. Cites – put up or shut up.

    I’ve put up so you should shut up.

  17. Nancy Pelosi and Code Pink:

    US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has almost entirely ignored the Code Pink protesters who have been camping outside her Pacific Heights residence since Aug. 12. Except for the first night of the campout, when she called them “nuts.”

    The half dozen women, several of whom voted for Pelosi, have been on a hunger strike. They said their aim was to get San Francisco’s congressional representative to agree to hold a public meeting with peace activists to discuss the Iraq war during the House’s summer recess.

    Pelosi’s response, delivered as she arrived home that Sunday night: she said she would never meet with the protesters. She then told them to get away from her house.

    http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=4396&catid=4

    Ten seconds worth of research, first thing I hit.

    The problem with the GOP and the difference is that, again, Republican Congress people are putting forward Birther legislation. Show me where Dems have done the equivalent and gotten anything like the traction.

    You guys can hide behind comforting aphorisms all you like, but as Parker pointed out in the post today, you’ve turned your party over to angry Southerners. They are the GOP. You boys in the think tanks and in the academy, you’re the fringe now.




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  18. James Joyner says:

    Pelosi’s being irritated with folks camped out on her lawn and demanding two hours of her time isn’t quite the same as denouncing the movement.

    And, goodness, Maxine Waters and other Democrat crazies introduce kooky legislation with some regularity. It just doesn’t go anywhere because they’re on the fringe; ditto the birthers.




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  19. Matthew Stinson says:

    I stopped reading the Marshall excerpt as soon as he called them teabaggers. It’s a scummy insult more so than it’s a play on words, and little better than calling gay rights activists c*cksuckers.

    Anyways, right now the fringe seems influential in the GOP because the GOP leadership remains inept and in disarray. I’d go so far as to say that there is no Republican Party in a meaningful way at the national level, but instead a fragmented, barely connected set of interest groups. In other words, the GOP is where the Dems were in 2002-03.




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  20. Boyd says:

    Michael and Derrick: that you think Pelosi avoiding ambushers as she’s leaving her home in the pre-dawn hours is evidence of the Democratic leadership “soundly and publicly reject(ing)” Code Pink reveals the dishonesty of your position.

    If you keep lying to yourself, you’ll never get out of the haze.




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  21. billindc says:

    As you note…’Maxine Waters and others crazies’…when major Democratic politicians are forced to revise their statements under fire from Code Pink then you’ll have a point. Til then, you’re it.

    Here’s a relevant Politico article that furthers the point:

    “‘I do not know how you think you could advance any cause to which you might be attached by this kind of silliness,’ Frank said.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/20774.html

    On the Truthers and Democratic politicians there’s very little to find because they were simply ignored as the nuts the were/are.




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  22. billindc says:

    I just realized…this thread is aping the birth certificate ‘controversy’ note for note. One side is pointing to evidence and the other is making wish-fulfillment assertions.

    I miss the GOP of Buckley.




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  23. kth says:

    One way to look at it, y’all tell me where the flaw in my reasoning is:

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush’s approval rating was over 90%. Is it likely that a Democratic president would have attained that level of popularity, had s/he been President when 9/11 occurred? I rather doubt it, but I’m open to being convinced otherwise.




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  24. Phil Smith says:

    On the Truthers and Democratic politicians there’s very little to find because they were simply ignored as the nuts the were/are.

    That is a fair interpretation of events. That isn’t, however, the original claim, which is that Democratic political leaders “soundly and publicly” repudiated their own goofballs. You have Barney Frank losing his patience with them after seven years and who knows how many stunts. So we’re “it” only if it takes seven years.




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  25. hallo says:

    Don’t look down, Wile E.




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  26. Gus says:

    I stopped reading the Marshall excerpt as soon as he called them teabaggers. It’s a scummy insult more so than it’s a play on words, and little better than calling gay rights activists c*cksuckers.

    They wave little tea bags around, what would you call them?

    “Crazy Anti-Tax Extremists Who Pal Around With White Supremacists” is a bit long and unwieldy.

    And the unfortunate tea bag references started with the organizers on the right. Presumably organizers who lived sheltered lives…




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  27. ggr says:

    I just realized…this thread is aping the birth certificate ‘controversy’ note for note. One side is pointing to evidence and the other is making wish-fulfillment assertions.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Where’s the evidence that Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Orly Taitz are the three most influential republicans? I suspect its “wish-fulfillment assertions” all around, as usual.




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  28. Furhead says:

    The Dems see us as evil, mean, and crazy. Demonizing your opponents is a lazy way to fight over policy difference. The Republicans see Dems as misguided and naive. Not evil. To me that is the more realistic, mature way of approaching those opponents.

    So the e-mails saying Obama is an evil Muslim socialist modern-day Hitler are from who, then?

    Sorry, but I think you are blinded by your partisanship. The fringe on both sides demonize their opponents, while the moderate, reasonable people tend to think their opponents are just misguided and naive. The media just never covers the moderate people.




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  29. Gus says:

    Obama gets 400% more death threats than Bush did.

    see here

    Can we just accept that the radical right is 400% more crazy than the radical left?




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  30. Tlaloc says:

    James, recent polls show that the birthers comprise a good 1/4 to 1/3rd of the GOP. The 9/11 truthers (the most applicable example of similar delusion on the left) were never more than 5% at best, probably closer to 2%.

    It’s a world apart. The GOP has pushed out most of those like you who aren’t bat shit insane. The resulting concentration of crazy in a major political party is just unprecedented.




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  31. James Joyner says:

    James, recent polls show that the birthers comprise a good 1/4 to 1/3rd of the GOP.

    I think FUD has created a large number of people who harbor some doubt as to whether Obama was born here or whether his mother could confer citizenship because she hadn’t lived in the States for enough consecutive years. The number of people who are truly up in arms as to whether he’s legitimately president is much smaller.

    I put this closer to the Diebold conspirators who think Ohio was stolen that to the 9/11 conspiracy nuts.




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  32. Phil Smith says:

    The 9/11 truthers (the most applicable example of similar delusion on the left) were never more than 5% at best, probably closer to 2%.

    I looked it up for a previous thread, Tlaloc; one number I found was that 35% of Democrats are/were truthers. In New York it approached 50% – not of the Democrats, but of the populace as a whole. 28% of Americans – again, not Democrats, but Americans – believe that Bush was “mostly lying” about what he knew prior to 9-11. I wish you were right, but you’re not. The intelligent and honest response to the data is “well hell, there really is a lot of crazy to go around.”




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  33. filipe chalupa says:

    1) 10 republicans congressmen have cosponsored a Birther bill. How many democrats cosponsored a Truther bill?

    2) Death threats against Obama are running 300% higher than death threats against Bush, and that was *after* Bush got thousands of Americans killed both in Iraq and from ignoring the warnings about bin Laden.

    Fortunately, the Southern Strategy, which worked brilliantly for Nixon (nobody has gotten 60% of the vote since), is making it impossible for Republicans to win in the forseeable future, and we aren’t going to be governed by the Party of Stupid again for a good long while.




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  34. filipe chalupa says:

    The last time a totally-republican government caused an economic crisis this bad, they were out of power for decades. Hopefully they will be this time too.




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  35. Mike P says:

    James,
    You don’t think the Birthers are getting a lot more air time (and, frankly, legitimacy) than folks who believe that Diebold was going to toss the election?

    And in any case, at least the people who did believe the later were grounded in some portion of reality as there were well documented problems with the machines. The birthers, by contrast, haven’t produced…well, anything, of consequence.




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  36. wr says:

    I looked it up for a previous thread, Tlaloc; one number I found was that 35% of Democrats are/were truthers. In New York it approached 50% – not of the Democrats, but of the populace as a whole. 28% of Americans – again, not Democrats, but Americans – believe that Bush was “mostly lying” about what he knew prior to 9-11. I wish you were right, but you’re not. The intelligent and honest response to the data is “well hell, there really is a lot of crazy to go around.”

    But that’s a fundamentally dishonest poll. The question wasn’t “do you believe Bush was behind 9/11” but “do you believe he was not telling the truth about what he knew. Many people — myself included — remember that Bush ignored a national security briefing warning that Bin Laden was determined to strike in the US and chose to stay on vacation instead of ordering any action. Bush and company were singularly unconcerned with terrorism before the attack, despite Richard Clark’s warning.

    So yes, I do believe Bush knew more than he said he did. I believe they had intelligence and they underestimated its importantce beccause their concerns were elsewhere. I believe he and his administration were incompetent. That doesn’t make me a “truther,” but it would lump me in with the yes votes in this survey.




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  37. The problem, Mr. Joyner, is when your opponents, including U.S. Senators, and leaders of the House GOP Caucus, consistently seem unable or unwilling to tell a hawk from a handsaw, or, say, a White House effort to collect false rumors it needs to debunk from an effort to compile dossiers on its political opponents. And that’s just today’s for-instance.

    At some point, you’ve got to say: they’re bats**t crazy, not just at the fringes, but to the core.

    If you remember a time when the Democratic Party was anywhere near this crazy, please spill. I’m 55 years old, and I don’t remember any time when craziness like this permeated the party proper. Hell, I can’t recall a time that even the DKos front-pagers got anywhere near as loony as John Cornyn or James Inhofe or Eric Cantor or Mike Pence or John Boehner or Jim Coburn have been, just in the past six or seven months.




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  38. Phil Smith says:

    WR, go read the article. It’s clear you didn’t – there were a number of different polls cited in that article. The one about New York says the following:

    It found that 49 percent of New York City residents and 41 percent of New York state citizens believe individuals within the US government “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act.

    I’ll say it again: if you’re both intelligent and honest, you’ll recognize that there’s plenty of crazy to go around. Denying that makes you either dishonest or stupid, and I don’t have the time or inclination to try to determine which.




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  39. Michael says:

    they’re the bolsheviks and you guys are the mensheviks and it ain’t your party anymore.

    That’s quite possibly the best depiction of the modern GOP I’ve heard in quite some time.

    28% of Americans – again, not Democrats, but Americans – believe that Bush was “mostly lying” about what he knew prior to 9-11.

    There’s a pretty big difference between believing that the Bush administration orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, and believing that they weren’t being honest about what they knew of the threat prior to it.




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  40. Michael says:

    It found that 49 percent of New York City residents and 41 percent of New York state citizens believe individuals within the US government “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act.

    Again, believing that the administration failed to act when it could have is a world away from believing that the administration acted to produce the attacks.




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  41. Shade Tail says:

    Phil Smith: Believing that Bush was lying about what he knew prior to 9/11 isn’t the same as the truther conspiracy lunacy. Bush has claimed several times that nobody anticipated the attack. However, it is a well-documented fact that the CIA and FBI were both screaming at him that bin Laden was determined to attack the US using hijacked airplanes and he ignored them (see here, for example).

    The 9/11 truthers, by contrast, claim that Bush was actually part of the attack and was in league with the hijackers. In fact, some of them claim that the hijackers probably weren’t even Al Queda, and the terrorist network was merely used as a convenient scape-goat.

    Claiming that Bush was in on it, and that it was he rather than Al Queda who orchestrated the attacks? *That* is crazy, and therefore has gotten no play from prominent Democrats.

    Claiming Bush lied about what he knew before-hand? Merely an observation of a proven fact, and therefore has gotten quite a bit of play from democrats and independants.

    Claiming that the Democratic and Republican parties are equal when it comes to being infested and controlled by wackaloons? Very obvious and blatant untruth, and therefore has gotten quite a bit of play from prominent Republicans.




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  42. Bernard Yomtov says:

    I honestly don’t see how you can claim that Limbaugh, at least, is not one of the most influential voices in the GOP. And he definitely is a birther, among other things.

    And what of O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter?

    Sorry. In the GOP, the inmates have taken over.




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  43. TangoMan says:

    And, goodness, Maxine Waters and other Democrat crazies introduce kooky legislation with some regularity.

    Yeah, no kidding. I don’t recall any Republican aspirant to the White House ever introducing legislation that would prohibit the US from using space-based mind control rays. That can only be a chapter from the Democratic playbook.




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  44. Phil Smith says:

    You guys aren’t clicking through to the link.

    The second major Zogby poll on 9/11 was conducted in May 2006. It was a telephone interview of 1,200 randomly-selected adults from across the United States, consisting of 81 questions, with a 2.9 percent margin of error.[5] Some of the questions asked include the following:

    “Some people believe that the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks, saying there has been a cover-up. Others say that the 9/11 Commission was a bi-partisan group of honest and well-respected people and that there is no reason they would want to cover-up anything. Who are you more likely to agree with?”

    * Responses: 48% No Cover-up / 42% Cover-up / 10% Not sure

    “World Trade Center Building 7 is the 47-story skyscraper that was not hit by any planes during the September 11th attacks, but still totally collapsed later the same day. This collapse was not investigated by the 9/11 Commission. Are you aware of this skyscraper’s collapse, and if so do you believe that the Commission should have also investigated it? Or do you believe that the Commission was right to only investigate the collapse of the buildings which were directly hit by airplanes?”

    * Responses: 43% Not Aware / 38% Aware – should have investigated it / 14% Aware – right not to investigate it / 5% Not Sure

    “Some people say that so many unanswered questions about 9/11 remain that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success. Other people say the 9/11 attacks were thoroughly investigated and that any speculation about US government involvement is nonsense. Who are you more likely to agree with?”

    * Responses: 47% Attacks were thoroughly investigated / 45% Reinvestigate the attacks / 8% Not Sure

    42% of the American people believe that the 9-11 Commission was a coverup. Is anyone here deluded enough to attempt to argue that number doesn’t skew by party ID?

    Look, the birther nonsense is just that – it’s absolute nonsense. But this conceit that “our side doesn’t do that kind of thing” is just silly.




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  45. billindc says:

    Are you quoting a Zogby poll with a straight face? Even Truthers aren’t that crazy….

    😉




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  46. TG Chicago says:

    The Dems see us as evil, mean, and crazy. Demonizing your opponents is a lazy way to fight over policy difference. The Republicans see Dems as misguided and naive. Not evil. To me that is the more realistic, mature way of approaching those opponents.

    Posted by Steve Plunk | August 5, 2009 | 11:15 am

    Really? You dont think anyone on the right believes that Obama is evil? You must not pay attention to many people on the right. Even congressmen think that his healthcare plan is a devious plot to kill old people. Heck, even one of the allegedly-sane Republicans, John Boehner, is spouting this obviously inane fear-mongering nonsense.

    For you to claim that only Democrats demonize their opponents is flat-out ludicrous.




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  47. Phil Smith says:

    I dunno, I don’t listen to Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, or Coulter.




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  48. Skippy-san says:

    It is true that there are crazies on both sides of aisle. However for a long time the GOP held itself above that kind of childish antics. Shouting out stupid stuff was a left wing tactic-not a right wing one. You expected that kind of nonsense from liberals-after all they were granola crunching, tofu eating, sandal wearing, homo loving, wackos, right?

    Lots of people find Obama’s health care plan offensive. Fine. I happen to find 5000 Americans getting killed for worthless Arabs to be offensive too. That still does not give me the right to walk into an open public forum and behave like a jack-ass. There is a right way and a wrong way to do these kind of things and what is happening at the town halls is just wrong.

    It will get out of control and over time something really bad is going to happen-especially when some of those passionate people are also carrying concealed weapons. That is why the GOP needs to repudiate this kind of behavior.




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  49. Greg Ransom says:

    Josh Marshall is a titanic mediocrity. His understanding of economics isnincompetent. Hisknowledge of history was huge gaps. Etc. Mostly he’s just a deeply partisan and not very honest political hack. We need lots more of those, don’t we.

    What you discuss her falls out of who and what Marshall is. This isn’t out of character stuff. It’s what we’ve come expect.




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  50. Shade Tail says:

    “You guys aren’t clicking through to the link.”

    Yes, we are. It is just that *you* are misrepresenting what that link says.

    Again: believing the government ignored or failed to investigate 9/11 is not the same as the crazy truther conspiracy theory.

    “Look, the birther nonsense is just that – it’s absolute nonsense. But this conceit that “our side doesn’t do that kind of thing” is just silly.”

    Except that it is not. Say what you want, but the real loonie conspiracy theorists on the left have never been more than a tiny and powerless fringe. The loonie conspiracy theorists on the right currently own and operate the GOP. Our side really *doesn’t* do that, and that’s the truth whether you like it or not.




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  51. Jacquie says:

    Moreover, isn’t “Bush Derangement Syndrome” something invented by the right to describe those who opposed the runup to the Iraq war?




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  52. Gus says:

    The problem [snip] is when your opponents, including U.S. Senators, and leaders of the House GOP Caucus, consistently seem unable or unwilling to tell a hawk from a handsaw, or, say, a White House effort to collect false rumors it needs to debunk from an effort to compile dossiers on its political opponents. And that’s just today’s for-instance.

    At some point, you’ve got to say: they’re bats**t crazy, not just at the fringes, but to the core.

    I’m not convinced that the Republican leadership or elected officials are bats**t crazy, with a few exceptions.

    I do believe that they feign outrage and view everything from the standpoint of what is bad for the Democrats, rather than what is good for the country. And these unprincipled vermin rile up the fringe.

    Bats**t crazy would probably be better.




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  53. Our Paul says:

    Shell game alert! Shell game alert!!! Somebody ring the fire bell… This is the key part of Josh Marshall’s post:

    … reasonably well-orchestrated national effort to mobilize teabaggers to go and shutdown these townhall events with raucous demonstrations and generally making it impossible for the members of Congress to talk. (My italics, OP)

    When there is a national movement to disrupt political figures, legislators, or Cabinet members from discussing policy with the electorate we are facing a profoundly anti-democratic tactic. You may call the demonstrators crazy, part of a fringe group. But, if they are being organized and instructed on how to disrupt an open forum, they are thugs, direct descendants of the brown shirts that roamed Europe in the 30’s.

    Your shell game James lies here:

    There’s plenty of crazy to go around. Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome? The 9/11 conspiracy theorists who thought Bush and Cheney were in on the whole thing? The Diebold plot to steal the 2004 election? Should we judge the Left by the whackos that show up at the anti-trade rallies? PETA? Greenpeace?

    The question is not what the PETA or Greenpeace has done, the question is why the super patriots on the right have kept silent when our cherished democracy is being subverted…

    Pssst: I would not bring up the “Bush Derangement Syndrome”. One phrase does not wipe away the disaster that man visited on our and other countries.




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  54. Phil Smith says:

    A different poll from the same link that you didn’t read:

    Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them “because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”

    That’s trutherism, junior. That’s not a tiny, powerless minority. That’s the margin of any national election you can name.

    Twelve percent suspect the Pentagon was struck by a military cruise missile in 2001 rather than by an airliner captured by terrorists.

    Tiny. Riiiiiight.

    You guys believe what you want; you were never reasoned into your position, so it’s impossible to reason you out of it.




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  55. G.A.Phillips says:

    The three most influential people in the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Orly Taitz.

    I honestly don’t see how you can claim that Limbaugh, at least, is not one of the most influential voices in the GOP. And he definitely is a birther, among other things.

    And what of O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter?

    Sorry. In the GOP, the inmates have taken over.

    lol, it sends a tingle up my leg when I here social, moral, economic, historical, and constitutional moron liberals talking pewp about the likes of Rush and Glenn. Ha…..

    The three most influential people in the Democratic Party: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and probably Max Baucus.

    lol More like John Stewart, Keith olberman, and Satan…

    Two shitty comics and the devil.




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  56. William d’Inger:
    Who are the intellectuals in today’s Republican Party?




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  57. al bee says:

    I believe there are a large number of people who go to the Town Halls to voice their opinions and opposition. It seems to be working albeit a small minority spoils the effect.

    Democrats when out talked, out maneuvered or just plain bested; attack and denigrate the opponents. The Clintoon scandal is a prime example. Of course controlling the national media simplifies the matter into a hands down victory.

    At 79, having spent twenty+ in the Army and suffering the same denigration vis-a-vis the baby killers tag in Vietnam etc etc. U.S. Democrat senators attacking rather than supporting the military. I came home from Vietnam to find Kennedy submitting legislation to reduce funding for the war I just left, so I find 1 million dead Democrat politicians in a strip mine a poor start.




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  58. G.A.Phillips says:

    Democrats when out talked, out maneuvered or just plain bested; attack and denigrate the opponents. The Clintoon scandal is a prime example. Of course controlling the national media simplifies the matter into a hands down victory.

    Exactly, see rules for retards no.5

    Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.




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  59. Pug says:

    At 79, having spent twenty+ in the Army and suffering the same denigration vis-a-vis the baby killers tag in Vietnam etc etc. U.S. Democrat senators attacking rather than supporting the military. I came home from Vietnam to find Kennedy submitting legislation to reduce funding for the war I just left, so I find 1 million dead Democrat politicians in a strip mine a poor start.

    There’s your party, James. Still enraged over events that, mostly in their minds only, happened over 40 years ago and hoping for “1 million dead Democrat politicians”.

    Sadly, James, your party is full of nuts. I could agree with quite a bit of what Republicans at least used to say they were for, like smaller deficits, lower taxes, etc. The problem now, though, is there are way too many “dead Democrat politicians” types in the party. Crazy as hell.




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  60. Joe Camel says:

    Always good to see good Democrats telling conservatives how they should run things..who their leaders are, should be…avoid all those “right wing” nuts out there in middle America.
    That got us Bob Dole and John McCain. Not exactly the bastions of conservatism.
    I could care if Obama is an American citizen or not, as I know the outcome if anyone were to try to take him out of office. Riots across the country, dead bodies everywhere. That won’t happen.
    In the end, the smugness of the current leadership in the Democratic party and Obama will be their undoing. Remember, what cost the Republicans in the first place was their inability or desire to control Bush’s spending. Unlike Democrats, a conservative will make a statement by not voting for you. Actually, I have a disdain for both parties, as they both are filled with politicians and those who don’t give a rat’s rear end about anyone or anything but themselves. 2010 is coming..gird up..




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  61. Tlaloc says:

    You guys aren’t clicking through to the link.

    No the problem Phil is you keep pretending those polls say something entirely different than what they actually say. Saying you don;t think the 9/11 commission actually considered all the evidence is, you know, correct, not a conspiracy theory. They didn’t consider all the evidence, in fact it was very specifically designed not to consider all the evidence and from that perspective it’s perfectly fair to call it a cover up- it was not supposed to actually investigate the matter but to end it.

    That’s entirely different than what the truther said which is that AQ had nothing to do with 9/11 and it was actually a missile attack or controlled demolition done by the US government. Now that’s as crazy as the birthers.

    But again the people who were actual truthers (as in really not the people you keep trying to include by moving the goal posts a few thousand miles) were a tiny fraction of the left and libertarians.




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  62. Kenneth Almquist says:

    The reason I don’t pay much attention to the “truthers” is that they don’t have political power. They may think that George Bush deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail for treason, but they can’t make it happen. If they every came close to having the power to do so, we would have plenty of warning and could oppose them at that time.

    I don’t think that the same thing is true of the crazies on the right. They may not be able to disrupt health care reform, but they are close enough to doing so that the time to oppose them is now. Democracies can function just fine if a significant portion of the population is crazy, but when crazy people start determining policy, the country has a problem.




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  63. Steve Plunk says:

    Pug, Come on, do you really think al bee wants anyone dead or was just his distaste for Dem politicians known? He speaks of betrayal and distrust. It’s a fundamental flaw of politicians.




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  64. TG Chicago says:

    Bernard Yomtov says:

    I honestly don’t see how you can claim that Limbaugh, at least, is not one of the most influential voices in the GOP. And he definitely is a birther, among other things.

    And what of O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter?

    Sorry. In the GOP, the inmates have taken over.

    Posted by Bernard Yomtov | August 5, 2009 | 03:38 pm

    Phil Smith replies (at least I believe this was in response to the above – it’s not entirely clear):

    I dunno, I don’t listen to Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, or Coulter.

    Posted by Phil Smith | August 5, 2009 | 04:00 pm

    Mr. Smith, are you claiming that the fact that you dont listen to those 4 means that they are not influential within the GOP? That doesnt make much sense.

    The fact is that they – Limbaugh especially – are very influential within the GOP. Regardless of whether you listen to them or not.

    Now, to be fair, one has to consider that Limbaugh was decidedly against nominating John McCain for president, but he was nominated anyway. So that goes to show that Limbaugh is not the sole voice of the GOP. His sway only goes so far.

    But there arent many (any?) people with a more dedicated Republican constituency than Rush Limbaugh.

    (One of the few contenders would be Sarah Palin – not a good sign for the intellectual seriousness of the party)




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  65. Bush Derangement Syndrome?

    There’s a Chirac interview starting to surface wherein he says Bush lectured him on Gog and Magog and appealed to Chirac’s Christianity in the run-up to Iraq. It seems we had to avert a union of Gog and Magog to avoid the apocalypse.

    And we now know that Dick Cheney wanted to use the US Army to carry out a simple arrest inside the US. And that the motive for that could only be a desire to establish precedent for using regular army in civilian roles.

    And of course we know that the Bush administration carried out torture. And lied about it. And continues to lie about it.

    Religious fanaticism, executive power grabs, torture and lies.

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean no one’s out to get you.




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  66. davod says:

    So James, now you tie the protestors at the townhall meetings to the Birthers and others.

    Josh and Rahm have succeeded.




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  67. davod says:

    “And we now know that Dick Cheney wanted to use the US Army to carry out a simple arrest inside the US. And that the motive for that could only be a desire to establish precedent for using regular army in civilian roles”

    Obama doesn’t want to use the army. Obama wants a Civilan Defense Force as large and as well funded as the DOD.




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  68. Davod:

    He means like Americorps. You know, college kids doing an obligatory year of social work so they can flesh out their resume. Not exactly a terrifying power grab.




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  69. gizmo says:

    As an advocate for healthcare reform, I’m encouraged by the fact that the anti-reform movement has chosen to fight the battle on such low terrain. It’s almost impossible to find anyone making thoughtful and sensible arguments against the idea of fixing our broken healthcare system. What we get instead is an industry-sponsored cadre of goofballs whose idea of civic participation is to show up at a town hall meeting and shout down anyone who wishes to have a civilized discussion of the issue.

    The healthcare industry and its loyal servants in the Republican Party have made a huge mistake by enlisting a clueless bunch of agitators and allowing them to become the public face of the anti-reform movement. They are headed down the same road as the “Birthers,” and we all know how that turned out for the GOP.




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  70. Joe says:

    I’m quite involved with the people showing up at these protests here in Connecticut, and believe me, organized is the last thing they are. There’s no support or direction from the Republican Party (these folks don’t want it and wouldn’t take it) and the notion that insurance companies have something to do with it is laughable. This is the real thing, spontaneous anger.

    I saw it once before, during the fight here against the state income tax in 1991. People just started showing up, and it ended with 65,000 in front of the state capitol on October 5 (you can look it up). If it persists till next fall (and I’m betting that it will) you have some very interesting politics in store.




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  71. davod says:

    “He means like Americorps.”

    That is not the way he described his program.




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