Sunday, May 22, 2011


On Friday at Slate, Jacob Weisberg says the thing that needs to be acknowledged by everyone in the political mainstream if we're to have any hope of saving the country: that the Republican Party is crazy:

[It] has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.

Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Over at Crooked Timber, John Quiggin sees the piece as part of a recent trend, having recently spotted the following:

* USA Today comparing Republican climate change delusionism to birtherism....

* The Washington Post, home of High Broderism says "the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change."

* Even GOP house journal Politico draws the formerly off-limits link between "skeptics" and "deniers", regarding the Republican adoption of fringe economic theories suggesting the US can safely leave the debt ceiling unchanged.

I'm glad this is happening, but why is it happening? Quiggin thinks President Obama got the ball rolling by discrediting Donald Trump with the one-two punch of his birth certificate release and the killing of bin Laden. OK -- plausible so far, I guess. Then Quiggin's thesis goes off the rails: he notes "a steady drumbeat of events, minor in themselves, and unlikely to have counted for much in the past, that fit the frame 'Republicans = delusion'" -- and lists a new scientific study affirming the reality of human-created climate change, reports of plagiarism on the part of climate-change deniers, the writings of Paul Krugman and other economists on the debt limit, plus ... er ... the failed Harold Camping May 21 Apocalypse.

That's where Quiggin loses me.

Climate-change denialists hurt by evidence? Since when? Yeah, there have been a couple of mildly peeved editorials, but I don't think that count as a groundswell on climate-change denialism. Regarding the Apocalypse, Harold Camping isn't a politicized Bible-thumper, and he never became a wingnut hero. And does anybody except us lefties gives a crap what Paul Krugman says about the economy?

If anything new is going on, it's that Republican denialism is threatening the credit markets.

That alone, I think, explains why Jacob Weisberg -- the guy who wrote Robert Rubin's memoir -- is suddenly upset about Republicans in general: their denialism on the seriousness of raising the debt limit, and ultimately on allowing some taxes to be raised so we actually can reduce indebtedness someday, is threatening to affect powerful people Weisberg knows personally.

If all that can be settled -- and I think it will be, probably after Obama and the Democrats make massive concessions -- then mainstream-press hand-wringing will probably fade to insignificance again.

So enjoy it while you can.

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