Where On Earth Did They Get This Idea?

Where On Earth Did They Get This Idea?

by digby

Chris Matthews was very confused about all this socialism talk today:

Chris Matthews: ... These are sort of middle of the road solutions. Why is everybody calling it socialism?

Richard Wolfe: It has nothing to do with socialism. Any basic study of socialism will tell you this is way far away from that. This idea that the governments taking over everything is kind of a mushball of the auto situation and the banks and the recovery act. And as the president says, a third of that money went in to taxes which these folks ought to be supporting. This had been a very effective caricature, it's been spread, as you know through the right wing echo chamber. But I don't know that this has got anything to do with what this administration's doing.

Let's just put to rest once and for all this notion that the "socialist" meme has anything to do with auto-bailouts and stimulus packages. This mantra came from the Republican Party and it started long before Obama was elected.

Here's a little blast from October of 2008:

“This campaign in the next couple of weeks is about one thing,” Todd Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri, told a McCain rally outside St. Louis. “It’s a referendum on socialism.” “With all due respect,” Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said, “the man is a socialist.” At an airport rally in Roswell, New Mexico, a well-known landing spot for space aliens, Governor Palin warned against Obama’s tax proposals. “Friends,” she said, “now is no time to experiment with socialism.” And McCain, discussing those proposals, agreed that they sounded “a lot like socialism.”

This was fairly typical:
KBYR talk radio host Eddie Burke admits he is a conservative and a "Palinista."

But on Wednesday Burke resorted to name calling when he found out Alaska Women Reject Palin planned to host a Saturday rally.

"They're a bunch of socialist maggots, that's what I'm going to call them -- socialist maggots, that's what they are, a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots," said Burke.

For some reason nobody seemed to have thought that stuff could possibly be taken seriously back in the campaign. It was a new dawn. But it was out there being flogged by the highest levels of the GOP.

In fact, you may recall this from 2004:

“John Kerry is a French-speaking Socialist from Massachusetts, who is more liberal than Ted Kennedy.” Senator Trent Lott at the Neshoba County Fair.

Or this, from four years before that:

During the 2000 campaign, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” a young woman asked him why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” The exchange continued:

Young woman: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?

McCain explained that he thought people had a obligation to give back a little if they did well, but that was in his "maverick" incarnation. He'd be drawn and quartered by the baggers for saying that today. But the question was asked. In fact, they've been throwing around the "s" word on the right for over a century and I would guess not 5% of them have ever had a clue about what it really means.

For some reason, progressives thought they were just being quaint when they said this stuff last fall. They really mean it. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with Democratic party policies. This is a faith based tribal assumption that has no literal meaning. It's just a primal war cry.