There are people now, who are way out there on a limb. And I think they're just out there on a limb with the email they send us. Because I read it, and they are out there. I mean, out there in a scary place...I could read a hundred of them like this...I mean from today. People who are so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous.
Shepard Smith is an anchor for FOX News. In June, Smith made that statement on the air, after a shooting spree by a racist at the Holocaust Museum in DC that left one guard dead and after an anti-abortion extremist killed a doctor in Kansas. At the time, the right was busy freaking out of a draft report by the Department of Homeland Security detailing the threat of right wing extremism. Despite the fact that the report detailed concerns about groups that had already committed acts of domestic terrorism, Republicans and their allies thought it would be a good idea to pretend to be idiots and pretend to misunderstand the report. It was about them and they were all "right wing extremists." They didn't actually have any point in doing this, they just needed something to freak out about.
It's hard to take conservatives seriously these days. They play everything for political gain and they don't care about the consequences. A big chunk of their supporters are whackos, the arguments they make are incredibly stupid, and they offer zero alternatives. The GOP is like a crying baby who won't be consoled. They don't seem to know what they want, they just know they're unhappy. So they'll shriek and shriek and shriek until they stop being unhappy or just get tired of shrieking.
I'd like to use the example of a health care reform debate, but there isn't any health care reform debate. There are people on one side making reasoned arguments and people on the other pulling their hair out, jumping up and down, and shouting like lunatics. There is no debate here, just a tremendous effort to avoid having a debate. And the reason is clear; Republicans have no alternative and no argument.
[Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post:]
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
They don't care about debate, they don't care about health care, they don't care about anything other than hurting Democrats before the 2010 elections and crippling Obama before '12. None of this has a damned thing to do with health care reform. If you're having trouble making your premiums or getting care, you can just screw off. Getting Republicans back into power is the most important goddam thing in the goddam world.
And Pearlstein's charge of political terrorism just became more apt. When I first read it, I thought it was a poor choice of words -- what terrorism isn't political? -- and that the term he should've used was something along the lines of "rhetorical terrorists," in that he means they're trying to destroy debate. But that was before I saw this:
In a stunning display of anger, Florida Republicans and fans of Fox editorialist Glenn Beck turned a Tampa healthcare forum into a "near riot," one reporter said, as they attempted to enter the meeting hall and drown out a group of community organizers and a member of congress.
There were at least two reports of violence at the forum.
"The meeting which was scheduled to begin at 6:00 at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County drew hundreds of people who quickly began to overwhelm staff and event organizers at the front entrance," reported Tampa news station 10 Connects.
The channel added: "10 Connects photojournalist Kevin Carlson, [who was] inside the meeting reports at least one fist fight breaking out inside."
OK, it still probably isn't "terrorism" -- I, for one, fail to be terrified by a bunch of wingnuts behaving like spoiled, bawling infants -- but one thing it's definitely not is debate. We know the Republican base is dumber than stumps and the article tells us this is especially true of this crowd. According to the report, "[H]undreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters."
There you go then, Glenn Beck fans. If that's not synonymous with "pack of morons" in your mind, you just haven't been paying attention. And, like Shepard Smith, Beck has seen the emails. He knows how crazy his audience is. Just days ago, Beck begged his viewers not to become violent, warning that Democrats would use that against the right. "If anyone thinks it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again," Beck said. "It would destroy the republic."
Damn. Now the republic's gone and got itself destroyed. I wonder what we should call the new country, now that the USA is sunk and gone forever?
Republicans and their media allies have failed to learn one lesson. And they've failed to learn it over and over and over. The Republican base isn't really all that smart and that makes them dangerous. They're a herd of cud-chewers and, once you get them stampeding, they're pretty much beyond your control. They frighten easily, mostly because of their jaw-dropping gullibility, and in their brainless panic, they'll trample even their Republican herders.
But a herd of morons doesn't debate -- mostly because they don't have the brains for it -- and zero debate is what they want. But if the GOP thinks that turning town hall meetings into brawls is good strategy, if they think being the party of the angry mob is smart politics, I think they'll find out that they've sorely miscalculated. No one likes this -- not even the stampeding morons.
When people are "so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous," they make complete idiots of themselves -- before they finally turn violent. Like the McCain/Palin rallies, like the tea party protests, like the birther movement, this whole town hall goon squad thing is getting away from them and there's nothing, at this point, that the Republican party can do about it.
I wish I could take comfort in that, but what we need is debate, what we need is discussion. Health care premiums are rising faster than the rate of inflation and something has to be done. But the Republican party doesn't seem to care about that, all they seem to care about is getting idiots whipped up into a panic and setting them loose on our political system. That's not democracy, that's barely even politics.
It's definitely not good for Americans.
Get updates via Twitter