IN ROMNEY'S (SEMI-)DEFENSE
You may already know about this moment from the campaign trail today:
Romney Silent As Woman Says Obama Should Be Tried For Treason
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney didn't comment on a supporter's assertion that President Barack Obama should be tried for treason at a town hall event here.
A woman in the audience expressed dismay that Obama was "operating outside the Constitution," then said Obama should be tried for treason for violating separation of powers.
"I do believe he should be tried for treason," she said to applause from the audience.
Romney ... allowed her to clarify what specifically she thought Obama had violated, and the woman proceeded to spout references to Executive Orders....
It's being said that John McCain showed more courage on the campaign trail in 2008 when he challenged a woman who said that Barack Obama was an Arab.
But there's a difference. That was an early variant of what later became full-fledged birtherism. The varieties of birtherism include the belief that Obama is secretly Muslim, along with the belief that he wasn't born in America. But the establishment right has always seen birtherism as somewhat toxic -- officially, any Republican or right-winger who expects to be taken seriously has to at least pay lip service to the notion that birtherism and its variants are beyond the pale.
But that's not the case when it comes to the notion that Barack Obama is a traitor. The notion that his presidency flagrantly violates legal and constitutional restraints is articulated day in and day out by Republicans and rightists of all degrees of prominence. It's not considered controversial. Whether it's the use of so-called czars, the inclusion of an individual mandate in the health care law, or merely the collecting and distribution of tax money for any social program at all, mainstream rightists and Republicans now deem it a violation of the Constitution and an example of full-blown, undiluted socialism.
This, of course, is nuts. It's nutty, conspiratorial, fringe thinking -- it's not birtherism, but it's exactly as crazy as birtherism. Taken to its logical conclusion, it would define just about every president of the past century as a traitor to the Constitution.
But it's simply what Republicans believe now. It's mainstream GOP thinking.
So you can't really blame Mitt Romney for failing to criticize that woman, can you? It's not his fault -- the fault lies with the degeneracy of his party's philosophy.