Ain't Nothing New Under The Sun
Perlstein points out that right wing lunacy is more like a chronic American disease than an unpredictable, spontaneous eruption. It's just how they roll:
So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.
In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House "found in the files a blueprint for socializing America."
Read on, it's great stuff.
Perlstein is an unparalleled historian of the conservative movement and I expect him to know these juicy details from 40 or 50 years ago. But I would also expect Washington politicians and political media to know that many of the same people are who ginning up the lunacy and acting like hysterical freaks right now are not only acting in the conservative tradition, they are also the very same people who pulled this stuff just a decade ago.
I guess everyone thought that that whole 'vast right wing conspiracy" thing was something Hillary made up in her head because Tim Russert told them so.
Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak were interviewed yesterday at NN by Susie Madrak and Ari Melber. Specter made some news when he revealed that from the beginning the Republicans had circulated among themselves that they were going to "break Obama" --- and it didn't originate over health care, but even before the stimulus. They never had any intention of acting in good faith. This didn't surprise me either. But it certainly seems to have surprised the administration, or at least they thought they could win them over anyway. But they can't.
It's an illness that health care reform can't cure. You just have to find a way to live with the problem and not let it kill you.