You may think that the big news story lately has been riots in Baltimore -- or, if you have different priorities, either that boxing match or Kate’s baby. But in certain circles, the big thing has been the right-wing belief that operation Jade Helm 15, a military training exercise in Texas, is a cover for Obama to seize control of the state and force its citizens to accept universal health care at gunpoint.Well, there's an obvious example of a similarly far-out conspiracy that Democrats could have embraced: 9/11 trutherism. And, in fact, we saw Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney embracing it a decade ago. We also had onetime White House aide Van Jones being exposed as a signer of a 9/11 truther petition.
No, really -- and this is being taken seriously both by Ted Cruz and by the governor, who has ordered the National Guard to keep a watch on the feds and their possibly nefarious activities.
Before you pooh-pooh this, think about what would happen to a Democratic politician who gave similar credence to a left-wing conspiracy theory this far out. I can’t even think of what that conspiracy theory might be.
What happened then? McKinney was primaried in 2006, for this and other reasons, and after she went down to defeat, she left the Democratic Party altogether. Jones, for his part, disavowed the petition, had his name removed from it -- and was forced to leave his White House job anyway.
Neither McKinney nor Jones was a huge name in American politics. But Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott are the junior senator and governor from the second most populous state in the Union, and Cruz is a major presidential candidate -- and they think this is plausible.
As does a very famous endorser of Abbott's candidacy:
Actor Chuck Norris, who has become a prominent conservative activist, published a column on the conspiracy theory website WND that told readers not to trust what the federal government has been saying about a military training exercise known as Jade Helm 15.Hey, Israel, I hope you're proud that you just returned to office a prime minister who welcomed this guy's endorsement:
Some conspiracy theorists have warned that the exercise, which is set to take place later this year in Texas and six other western states, may lead to a covert takeover of some of those states....
"The U.S. government says, 'It’s just a training exercise.' But I’m not sure the term 'just' has any reference to reality when the government uses it," Norris wrote in his column....
"If Washington wants to cool the embers of controversy, then it should quit stoking the fire, as with the posting of a map of Jade Helm 15 'just' exercises that label some areas of the country, including Texas, as 'hostile,'" Norris wrote.
And you Mike Huckabee fans, well, you were pretty pathetic to begin with, so I'm not sure this is any additional shame:
That Huckabee ad is from the 2008 race, so not only was it filmed before Norris declared himself a birther, it was filmed before many of Norris developed some of his other arcane conspiracy theories. My favorite is his 2010 suggestion that an Obama executive order concerning Interpol was signed so that Obama could, as the Daily Beast put it at the time, "create a 'secret vault' at Interpol's New York office to conceal important records about the war on terror from the American public."
No, that didn't make Norris so fringy that high-level right-wing politicians would no longer consort with him. Hardly anything is too fringy on the right.