Josh Marshall writes:
To that end, we've got the story of the Colorado state senator who represents the hyper-conservative Colorado Springs compared Obama to the al Qaeda terrorists who took over Flight 93 on 9/11 and real patriotic Republican Americans to the passengers who had to retake control of the plane.
On the one hand, this is textbook feverish, eliminationist incitement. On the other hand, I think back to how paranoid and in the thrall of their own victimization these folks were a few years ago when they ran the entire country. So I'm not sure we should be surprised that they go totally crazy when they're largely shut out of power in the country at the national level.
I was having a conversation with a conservative friend of mine who had no idea Glenn Beck existed until this summer - he's simultaneously appalled and fascinated by the fact that a man so terrible could become so influential. He asked me if Glenn Beck made people crazy, or if crazy people found Glenn Beck.
Conservative crazy by its very nature is something that fumbles around in the dark for whatever deep thread of resentment and fear it can tug at. It doesn't create crazy; it simply finds new contextual ways to play on the same fears. Glenn Beck is no different than Father Coughlin or Joseph McCarthy or the local duke in the south of France in the mid-14th century darkly whispering about how the new Jew has brought with him a terrible sickness that has seized the local children - he just has a black president to play these days with instead of those historical bugaboos.
This is why it gets to be so frustrating when you hear the constant queries into whether the far right is finally losing it. They lost it. Shit's been gone. The prospect of a composed, rational far right wing is in many ways like a fashionable LED Christmas sweater - you could perhaps conceive of such a thing existing, perhaps even touch it on the tip of your psyche, but it just doesn't exist.
Why should we not only pay attention to, but engage and deride terrible right-wing ideas? Because they're not new, they the persistent viral descendants of hatred going back quite a ways? Sarah Palin isn't some new dumb thing that'll flame out once she has her moment in the sun. There will be another, and another, and another, and in many ways, the best we can hope to do is simply build up a resistance to it, and bat it down wherever it inevitably creeps up.
That, or getting to work on knitting that awesome sweater.