Monday, September 29, 2014


I'm pleased that The New York Times told us this today about many of the Republican Party's 2014 House candidates, but the paper downplays the impact:
One nominee proposed reclassifying single parenthood as child abuse. Another suggested that four "blood moons" would herald "world-changing, shaking-type events" and said Islam was not a religion but a "complete geopolitical structure" unworthy of tax exemption. Still another labeled Hillary Rodham Clinton "the Antichrist."

Congressional Republicans successfully ended their primary season with minimal damage, but in at least a dozen safe or largely safe Republican House districts where more mild-mannered Republicans are exiting, their likely replacements will pull the party to the right, a move likely to increase division in an already polarized Congress....
Um, yes, these likely victors are going to pull the House GOP further to the right, but what's more important is that they're delusional, and they're going to be in Congress, and having delusional people in Congress is not good for America.

But we never talk about this, in large part because D.C. press insiders don't want to show "bias" by acknowledging that one of our major parties is crazy.

The Times story minimizes one bit of craziness from one of the cited Republican candidates, Jody Hice of Georgia:
In a satirical book, he claimed he had found a homosexual agenda to "sodomize your sons" by seducing them "in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms."
As Yastreblyansky notes,
Hice's 2012 book, It's Now or Never: A Call To Reclaim America was not intended as satire. The satire was in a passage cited in the book from a 1987 essay by Michael Swift --
Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks
-- and the point is that Hice didn't know it was satire. He thought he'd discovered their secret plans....
But Yastreblyansky makes a further point that needs making: this sort of craziness isn't about to enter our political discourse, because it's already there. Congressman William Dannemeyer read this satirical manifesto into the Congressional Record in 1989, also believing it was a real plan of action.

And as for the "blood moons," they were the subject of a recent book by John Hagee -- yes, the religious right preacher whose inflammatory remarks about Catholics led John McCain to reject his endorsement in 2008. The book received very serious coverage on Fox News (the GOP's unofficial press office), then spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Oh, and by the way, Hice won't be the first member of Congress to say that Islam isn't a religion -- Allen West, who served one term in the House, said the same thing in 2010.

But we've spent years not talking about how widespread the Republican craziness is. Charlie Pierce reminds us that Democrats have punted on this:
The great failing of the Democratic party over the past three-and-a-half decades has been the party's failure to take political advantage of the obvious prion disease that has afflicted the Republican party since it first ate all the monkey-brains in the mid-1970's. Whether this was out of cowardice, incompetence, or an overly optimistic view of the inherent sanity of the electorate, is no longer an issue. The failure to make the Republican crazee the Republican party's standing public identity has encouraged the increased spread, and the increased virulence of the prion disease, with disastrous consequences for the rest of us....

We are seeing yet another example of this failure at the moment in Iowa. Bruce Braley is running for the Senate against the famous swine de-baller Joni Ernst, and recent polls are indicating that Ernst has broken open something of a lead. Further, she is starting to get something of a pass on not knowing fk-all.... All of this despite the fact that Joni Ernst is a complete fking loon, and she has been a complete fking loon ever since she put down the de-balling blade and ran for office. She supported a Personhood Amendment. She has called for the impeachment of the president and the nullification of federal laws, putting herself on the wrong side of political issues for over 150 years. She is a lifelong Truther regarding our old pal, Agenda 21, the secret UN plan to steal all our golfs. She shouldn't be allowed into the United States Senate on a tour, let alone as one of its 100 members....

... Braley seems to have fallen down completely on the job. He keeps slanging her about the Koch Brothers, and about the minimum wage, but not about the fact that she spent her entire career prior to this race in a lovely little bungalow on the outskirts of Krazytown. If there were already an existing narrative about how the Republican party has rendered itself into Bedlam, it wouldn't be so hard for Braley to make the case now....
But Democrats would have to do this right. Don't call these people "crazy" -- you have to establish that they're dangerous. These people can't be described as comical or eccentric -- they have to seem like people you'd cross the street to avoid, because you don't know what they'll do.

This has to be done in the solemn warning tones Republicans use when they want to scare your grandparents on Fox. But if the press won't do its job, will heartlanders take the word of mere Democrats? People who, by definition, have inappropriate ideas and suspect patriotism?

But somebody has to try, or soon there won't be anyone left in government apart from delusional wingnuts.


peabody nobis said...

But what about getting the "government we deserve"? What if a large-enough percentage of the electorate are gullible enough, or as crazy as the candidate is, to elect these mouth-breathers?
Either scenario makes me ill.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Nobody gets to be the candidate by himself. It takes money and support. So if people this crazy get to be the candidates, what does that say about the support structure of the party?

I think Steve M is right on the money, here. These guys aren't just adherents of a frightful ideology or defenders of plutocratic privilege. They are utter crackpots.

Victor said...

So, I see that the people I used to see screaming into a rolled-up newspaper in NY City parks and street corners back in the 70's and 80's moved to rural areas, and ran for political office.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Peabody: Turnout turnout turnout. These clowns are elected by the cynics who stay home because they don't see a "dime's worth of difference" between somebody who knows there ought to be a carbon tax but doesn't push very hard for it and somebody who thinks the idea of a carbon tax is a Satanic plot to bring the Antichrist.