DELIBERATISM: AS CRAZY AND PARANOID AS BIRTHERISM, BUT FOCUSED ON A MUCH BROADER RANGE OF ISSUES
Michele Bachmann, with her crazy theory that President Obama wants to destroy Medicare deliberately so he can shift seniors into "Obamacare," may be the loopiest of the Republicans I call "deliberatists," but she has a lot of company. This has become one of the main themes of Republicanism right now: that Obama is undermining ... well, fill in the blank with pretty much anything -- on purpose.
The latest example is reported today by Dave Weigel, who's at RightOnline, the right-wing answer to Netroots Nation:
... Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, wasn't exactly subtle with his introductory remarks. He asked the crowd how much gas was on January 20, 2009, and how much it is now.
"Why would the president systematically want higher prices on gasoline?" asked Phillips. "If you ever wonder about high gas prices, it isn't a mistake."
Phillips ran through three quotes that are always used to write the brief on liberals and energy price gouging starting with Stephen Chu's comment about the desirability of getting to European gas prices, and Obama saying the high prices of 2008 had simply come too fast.
"Notice what the president did not say," he said. "These high gasoline prices are terrible! We've got to get 'em back down."
Phillips wasn't just floating a strange theory these people hadn't heard before. It was more like a classic hit to which they all knew the words:
The third quote was a reminder of just how wired these activists are into the narrative about Barack Obama. Phillips referred, without naming the source, to a 2008 interview Obama gave the San Francisco Chronicle.
"What did he say about energy prices under his plan?" asked Phillips. "They will, what?
"Necessarily skyrocket!" yelled the crowd.
"That's right! Necessarily skyrocket. It's now part of liberal orthodoxy to want Americans to pay higher prices on energy."
That's the ever-present message....
(Scroll down here for a less fevered explanation of Obama's "necessarily skyrocket" quote.)
As Steve Benen has noted, Americans for Prosperity (co-founded by energy gazillionaire David Koch) began pushing this line a while ago; Haley Barbour has been pushing it for months.
What else are right-wingers "deliberatists" on? Well, pretty much everything. Rush Limbaugh told Greta Van Susteren in 2009 that "President Obama and the Democrats are destroying the U.S. economy. They are purposely doing it, I believe"; he said a couple of months earlier on his radio show, "The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state."
A Boston Phoenix writer who reviewed a number of wingnut books in 2009 wrote:
...these writers say: our liberal leaders are not "wrong" -- rather, they are lying.
Democrats don't actually believe that their policies will work, they write -- nobody could be that stupid.
[Glenn] Beck repeatedly accuses liberals of lying in Common Sense. "The snakes responsible for this scheme know that it isn't going to work," he writes at one point....
Democrats use these lies to deceive Americans while concealing their true motivations, write [Dick] Morris and [Eileen] McGann. The authors repeatedly claim that liberal policies -- including the economic-stimulus package, immigration reform, and changing of unionization rules -- are driven not by a desire to improve people's lives, but to turn them into government-dependent Democratic voters....
Several of the authors claim that liberal leaders are pushing climate change concerns not because they fear for the planet, but because they want to increase government control over business and the economy. [Mark] Levin adds a twist to this theory: liberals despise the automobile, which "provides the individual with a tangible means to exercise his independence through mobility." Clever statists.
And back in April, we had a GOP congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, writing this for the Daily Caller:
This president said no to missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. He's about to limit our delivery systems of both conventional and nuclear weapons in a new deal with the Russians and he continues to put forth significant budget cuts in national defense spending -- cuts that will have a profound effect on our ability to wage two wars and maintain military readiness.
... Simply put, President Obama is disadvantaging the United States one step at a time and undermining this country's national defense on purpose. Whether he is catering to the anti-war leftists or truly doing what he thinks is best for our security, the president is leading this nation down a very dangerous path.
Most mainstream journalists won't call this what it is: conspiratorialism and paranoia. It's like birtherism, except the crazies extend it to virtually every issue. And in the GOP it's thoroughly mainstream.