Sunday, February 28, 2010


On Thursday evening I linked to a column here about how facts are increasingly falling out of favor in our modern discourse, and on Friday morning, as if to say "Exhibit A," I had my very first conversation with a self-proclaimed "Birther."  Those are the folks who know -- know! -- that Barack Obama wasn't born in America.  He was born in either Indonesia or Kenya -- whichever is scarier.   Any and all evidence to the contrary is a forgery.  I reject your reality and substitute my own.

I didn't indulge the discussion very long (mainly because of time constraints, but also because I didn't want to give myself an aneurysm) but it drove home for me the quicksand in which this new grassroots -- exemplified by the Tea Party phenomenon -- has chosen to plant its stakes.   While Birthers (and how bizarre is it that that's become commonly accepted parlance?) are by no means indicative of all Tea Partiers (and how bizarre is it that that's become commonly accepted parlance), they are indicative of the strange bedfellows the Republican Party has chosen for itself.

How can one expect to be taken seriously in an issue-based discussion while also allowing for tinfoil hat stuff like the president being a big bad foreign booga-booga?  Proving that point was last week's Conservative Political Action Conference convention, with nary a true conservative in sight, but an ever-more motley array of big government Republicans playing to the Tea Party crowd and  demonstrating how much the GOP has hitched its electoral wagon to this movement lock, stock, and barrel.  As Frank Rich explains, this may not be the smartest of maneuvers:
The leaders embraced by the new grass roots right are a different slate entirely: Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Simple math dictates that none of this trio can be elected president. As George F. Will recently pointed out, Palin will not even be the G.O.P. nominee “unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states” (as it did in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Waterloo). But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism. This ideology is far more troubling than the boilerplate corporate conservatism and knee-jerk obstructionism of the anti-Obama G.O.P. Congressional minority.
Much more from Rich here.

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