Conservatives who are still under the delusion that they can persuade the Left to tone down their rhetorical attacks and play nice would do well to check out Howard Kurtz’s latest column on the Daily Beast, which gives us yet another round of hypocritical finger waving over the Republican Party’s “liability on the fringe.”
Kurtz begins with, of course, the Birthers:
The [House Republican] caucus has 85 new members, more than 30 of whom are new to elective office—“the kamikazes,” they are privately called—and some took strong exception to being urged not to talk about President Obama’s birth certificate. “Well, I don’t think he was born in this country,” one freshman snapped.
A lone quote from a single unnamed GOP freshman, who represents “some” of a group of thirty or so? I guess they just don’t make epidemics the way they used to.
The birther nonsense seems especially pointless—and corrosive—when one considers that Obama was planning the helicopter raid that would kill Osama bin Laden days later, as he was releasing his long-form Hawaii certificate. Conservative author David Frum says bin Laden’s death should end the racially charged insinuations “that President Obama’s identity and loyalties lie elsewhere.”
Frum is no wild-eyed rebel; he helped coin the phrase “axis of evil” in the Bush White House and opposes virtually all of Obama’s agenda.
Don’t you just love it when lefties presume to tell us which conservatives to take seriously? I’m not sure what Kurtz means by “wild-eyed rebel,” but David Frum’s opinion here is meaningless, considering he’s made a cottage industry out of erecting “far-right” straw men he can loudly denounce so publications like the Daily Beast will fawn over how Serious and Responsible he is. Irresponsible attacks (racial or otherwise) against Obama obviously shouldn’t be tolerated, but they should be rejected on their own merits, not because he nailed bin Laden. Likewise, the political no-brainer of taking out the world’s most wanted terrorist shouldn’t insulate the president from substantive critiques of his “identity and loyalties,” like Matthew Vadum’s. Making bad decisions neither justifies dishonest attacks against you nor exempts you from honest ones.
These are the rumblings of slow-motion earthquake, a tectonic shift that may well redefine what it means to be a Republican. What was truly appalling about the birther craziness is how many in the GOP refused either to criticize those peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory—which included Donald Trump—instead offering a wink, a nod, and passive phraseology about taking the president at his word.
Yeah, nobody in the GOP or on the Right is willing to cross the Birthers…well, unless you count Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Michael Steele, National Review, Human Events, American Spectator, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Hot Air, Townhall, Red State, and NewsRealBlog. Besides, Birther numbers have plummeted since Obama finally released the thing, suggesting that at least a fair chunk of them really were just suspicious about the president’s apparent reluctance to release it, and that they’re happy to move on now that their curiosity’s been satisfied.
Ah, but hold on, Kurtz says, nuttiness “goes well beyond” Birtherism:
It has roots in John McCain putting Sarah Palin on the ticket. Right-leaning commentators who assailed Palin as unqualified were either excoriated (Kathleen Parker got 12,000 hostile e-mails, some saying she should have been aborted), forced out (Christopher Buckley purged from National Review, the magazine founded by his father), or fired (Frum losing his job at American Enterprise Institute).
Of course, McCain couldn’t possibly have picked Palin because he really thought she’d be a good running mate! (Also, apparently Palin on the bottom of the ticket is proof that the party’s dominated by hard-nosed fanatics, while Maverick’s presence at the top of the ticket means nothing.) I’m sorry that anonymous people on the Internet said mean things about Parker, but that kind of comes with the territory. Christopher Buckley (who, recall, not only disliked Palin but endorsed Obama) wasn’t “purged”; according to editor Rich Lowry, Buckley offered to resign from what was actually a fill-in position for the then-on-hiatus Mark Steyn anyway. Nor was Frum—AEI says they let him go because he hadn’t exactly been earning his keep for some time.
Is the GOP becoming a smaller tent where dissent is grounds for banishment?
Veteran congressman Mike Castle was booed at a 2009 town meeting when he told an angry woman waving a birth certificate that Obama is a citizen; voters dumped him for Christine O’Donnell in a Senate primary. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, calling the birther flap “absurd,” tells me the GOP is being pulled toward an unrelenting focus on social issues: “If the new paradigm is a test of purity, we haven’t got a prayer.”
Delaware voters had many reasons to boo Castle aside from Birtherism—the guy’s positions were so far to the left on economics, social issues, and defense that one wonders why he even bothered to run as a Republican. Aren’t voters allowed to side with candidates they agree with on the issues? If not, then what’s the point of primaries?
Not everyone agrees. Former Newt Gingrich aide Tony Blankley says “both parties have their extremes, and their leadership can’t embrace them. But you never want to disperse the energy of your supporters. It has to be managed.” Maybe, but Democrats have never enabled the Bush-caused-9/11 nuts this way.
Howard Kurtz and his ilk show little interest in creating original arguments against the Right, and they barely even try to disguise or justify the misdirection and double standards they’ve been recycling for years. If the prevalence of these reruns doesn’t convince you that the Liberal Inquisition can’t be appeased, nothing will.