Insanity Unleashed


Kevin Drum writes that the crazy Right is getting crazier.

A sense of besiegement has been the right’s stock in trade for as long as I’ve been alive.

But there is something different about their tone these days, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. My tentative take is that there’s an inchoate quality to their fears that’s new.

See also “Scenes from the Real America” at the Washington Independent.

I don’t know that the wingnuts are any more “inchoate” than they’ve ever been. I don’t know that their problem is that they don’t have an enemy. I mean, who was their enemy in the 1990s? Bill Clinton, black helicopters, and the phantom liberal elite. Now they’ve got Barack Obama, Muslims, and the phantom liberal elite. What’s the diff?

Are they less sensible now than in their glory days when they stampeded us into Iraq or went after Dan Rather like a pack of rabid wolves? Yet there is a difference, as Gary Kamiya says.

With the collapse of the GOP into the party of Rush Limbaugh, and as Limbaugh and his ilk grow ever more reckless in their attacks on Obama, the boundaries between “respectable” right-wing paranoid hatred and “extreme” right-wing paranoid hatred are getting more blurred. Right-wing fanatic du jour Glenn Beck teased his recent Fox show with images of Hitler, Stalin and Lenin and said that he was wrong to say that Obama was leading America to socialism — because Obama is actually a fascist. “They’re marching us towards 1984,” Beck intoned. “Big Brother, he’s watching.”

I think the real difference is that, deep down, they know they’ve lost. They can’t admit it to themselves. They are still blustering as if they represent mainstream America. They still pretend to themselves the majority of Americans give a bleep what they think.

But the truth is, the majority of Americans don’t give a bleep what they think. They’re jokes.

President Obama is popular. Legislation gets passed without conservative votes. The nation is not in shock and awe of, or even paying attention to, their “tea parties.”

Remember back in January, when the stimulus bill passed in the House with no Republicans votes? For a time House Republicans seemed actually proud of themselves for standing together. Then they noticed nobody but them cared how they voted.

They threaten to “go Galt.” America says fine; go right ahead. Don’t let the door hit your butt on your way out.

This is the real danger. They still have the sense of besiegement, but before 2006 they felt they had power, and that they represented the mainstream. Now about all they have is paranoia and guns.

Watch your back.

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  1. khughes1963  •  Apr 6, 2009 @10:01 pm

    What concerns me is that lone wolves like Poplawski and the guy who shot up the Unitarian church in Knoxville, not to mention Timothy McVeigh, can still inflict death and disaster on their fellow citizens thanks to the paranoia of the radical right.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 6, 2009 @10:08 pm

    When they were ascending, they felt they were the voice of the people – “The Silent Majority.”
    Now, as they descend, they have nothing to offer but their fear. It’s their own fear of being ignored that causes them to find bogeymen everywhere the look. They’re like little children who have to look in the closet and under the bed for monsters before going to bed. The problem here is that these children have many media outlet’s to spread their fear.

    Also, the complete lack of self-awareness would be funny if it weren’t so frightening. No outcry while Bush gutted the Constitution, and KBR build detention facilities. But an unfounded rumor about Obama taking away their precious guns has led one lunatic to kill a bunch of police in Pittsburgh.
    You know, if you’re afraid of people taking away your guns, you may not want to give them ‘ammunition’ by shooting police officer’s – or they will indeed take away your guns.
    Rush, Sean, Glenn, and others, the corpses laying around this weekend are you your heads.

  3. wmd  •  Apr 7, 2009 @1:14 am

    I had someone tell me today that gun confiscation was going to happen. I told her that wasn’t true, she mentioned an ammunition law change that I have heard of – micro engraving on bullets to make them easier to trace and add to the cost of ammunition. My response was two fold – yes I’ve heard of this and it isn’t law yet – it can be opposed politically, even if it passed it would not make old ammunition illegal because no post-facto laws are constitutional. And I said that we need to be careful not to push rhetoric that makes people fear their guns will be confiscated – incendiary rhetoric is a bad idea and anything that suggests gun confiscation can lead quickly to situations like Pittsburgh this past weekend.

    Rhetorical disarming has to happen – stop incendiary rhetoric. Gun confiscation is a non starter and will be for a long time in the US, regardless of whether one thinks it would solve problems.

  4. biggerbox  •  Apr 7, 2009 @1:34 am

    They have more than paranoia and guns, they also have a finely honed sense of self-righteous victimization. Not only to they think we’re out to get them, they are certain they’ve already been gotten, and mistreated six ways from Sunday already. It’s the grudge they carry for imagined slights that make them even more dangerous.

  5. Bruce Campbell  •  Apr 7, 2009 @2:30 am

    How far can rhetoric go before it becomes seditious.

  6. zhak  •  Apr 7, 2009 @5:37 am

    Much of what is being said is sedition, I would say. Michelle Bachmann is an elected official (what MN is thinking, I can’t begin to imagine) and is a good example of taking rhetoric too far. But to deal with her overwrought rhetoric is to call attention to it and give the right what they’ve been flailing for recently — a rallying cry, a sense of importance. (FDR weighed charges of sedition against Coughlin and decided against them. I only wish Obama would be more like FDR …)

    I suspect a fair amount of cognitive dissonance on the right as well. Things haven’t turned out as they expected — the permanent Republican majority, untold wealth for cronies, and a feudalism for the rest of us — and they can neither understand nor accept that this is the case. A case in point is the pointless waste of the Iraq war: more than 4000 Americans dead, who knows how many others dead (not that they care about them), and it’s all been for absolutely nothing. That’s unacceptable so they have to cling to their pathetic talking points about how Saddam was a bad man and the surge worked (WORKED WORKED WORKED). To any normal point of view, it’s really hard to sustain the idea that the Iraq war has been worthwhile on any level. But to them, it’s impossible to sustain the idea that it has not been worthwhile. So, we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars, left ourselves vulnerable & our military prestige imperiled in the process — is all that worth getting rid of Saddam and placing a pseudo-democratic theocratic state that destabilizes the region in its place?

    For the “religious” ones like Bachmann the cognitive dissonance is even worse, I expect. She can’t fathom why she’s being tested in this way after devoting her congressional career to anti-abortion campaigns & busting down the walls between Church and State (& voting reliably against things like housing & foreclosure aid despite her district being the hardest hit by such things in the entire country (via the Minnesota Independent)). So she’s veering ever-more-wildly off course.

  7. bill bush  •  Apr 7, 2009 @9:28 am

    The many hours of repetition on radio and tv “teach” these ideas to listeners who are NOT thinkers. Listening can be passive, whereas thinking is active. The passive are taken into the Borg and become so assimilated that they actually don’t seem to remember their pasts or any facts that contradict what they are hearing. Living here in the South, I am very familiar with the “Lost Cause” people who find community in victimization and talk of a return to an older, better way. The “golden age” meme is a root form for all this reactionary stuff. Bachman’s denial of her region’s actual conditions is easy to comprehend: admitting it would knock one of the three denial legs from under her stool. The Iraq war was justified because it would be like admitting unpleasant truths. “Drill, baby, drill” is just a plea to continue 1950’s energy policy and lifestyle thinking. People stockpiling guns and ammo really do think of themselves as Revolutionary and Civil war militia members. FEAR is their operating system, but they do not know it.

  8. erinyes  •  Apr 8, 2009 @6:08 am

    Zhak,the barometer regarding the sucess of the Iraq war is NOT thae body count or the new wave of violence in Baghdad, its the amount of oil production, a reality kept very secret. The stated object of eliminating boogey man Saddam was a side show. The main objective was to secure the oil fields of Iraq. GREAT SUCCESS!!
    The barometer or “metric” of sucess in Afghanistan is the elimination of hostile persons (mostly by drones armed with hellfire missiles) in the TAPI corridor.
    Eliminating the Taliban because they are mean to women is yet another sideshow.