The historical record of far-right ridiculousness has been well-documented here and throughout the blogosphere.
Who can forget Michelle Malkin's inspired cheerleader skit? Or when Rush Limbaugh mocked a guy's Parkinson's Disease tremors. What about John Boehner's public sobbing jags? Pat Robertson insisting he could leg-press 2,000 pounds. Sarah Palin's turkey geeker photo op. George W. Bush telling us that Iraq is a "peeance freeance." Remember when Bill O'Reilly shouted down the son of a 9/11 victim? Already, we're talking about a mélange of weirdness and upside-down logic suitable for the ages, and that's all prior to January 20, 2009.
But I don't think we ever anticipated that the presidency of Barack Obama would, among other things, send the far-right into a freakazoid display of shockingly deranged conniptions and outright crazy talk -- their manic hyperdrive engines, fueled by Rush Limbaugh's gesticulating arm flab, blasting them out of their political Mos Eisley cantina scene and expelling them a thousand parsecs beyond the zero barrier of insanity.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the lies or distortions or their utter lack of credibility (zero cred) on broad-ranging issues like, you know, foreign policy and the economy. What we have here is the equivalent level of chaos as, say, the first group therapy scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In other words: a total berserker meltdown.
Seriously, have you ever seen the Republicans more twisted and kerfuffled than they are today? Movie metaphors aside, I've been hard pressed to find greater examples of insanity from the far-right than have been exhibited in the past week alone. Here we have a Republican Party that's been discredited and bloodied, and yet in the face of an enormously popular president who is confounding conventional wisdom while building a working consensus among American voters, the Republicans appear to be reflexively coughing up the most intellectually violent chunks of hooey on record.
They're screaming about fear-mongering, even though we had eight years of this.
They're screaming about fiscal responsibility, even though we had eight years of this.
They're screaming about free speech, even though we had eight years of this and this and this.
They're honest to God screaming about fascism, even though we had eight years of this and this and this.
Yes, the Republicans have claimed to have "found their voice." If this is true, then their "voice" sounds exactly like Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge and Michelle Malkin, depending on the day.
So what are these voices saying exactly?
For starters, Rush Limbaugh -- the de facto leader of the Republican Party -- said on his show Tuesday that the entire economic meltdown was actually precipitated by a conspiracy between George Soros and a cabal of billionaire liberals who deliberately sought to sabotage the world economy in order to get Barack Obama elected.
He, of course, has no real evidence for this, other than what the shadow people told him while he was tweaking his TV remotes.
Okay, so I made up the part about the shadow people, but the rest is seriously what Limbaugh was telling his audience of dittoheads yesterday. What Limbaugh doesn't know, however, is that Soros is actually a hobbit who's conspiring with Elvis to fake another Moon landing. (Shh!)
Confined to its own phantom zone of crazy, there's only so much harm this can do. After all, Limbaugh's puffy melon has been bombarded with a mountain of hillbilly heroin large enough to crush God. But I wish I could report that this was wholly the product of Limbaugh's condition. It's also a theory that was repeated by Donald Luskin: a seriously wrongheaded economist and, go figure, former economic adviser to Senator John McCain.
Speaking of John McCain, he was pilfering extra helpings of rich, creamery crazy from Michelle Malkin this week. Senator Coburn and Congressman Boehner were doing it, too. Last month, Malkin nicknamed the president's recovery bill the "generational theft" bill, arguing that the debt it would create will serve to rob future generations. This, naturally, disregards the nearly doubled national debt and record-breaking deficits created by George W. Bush with programs that, when taken individually, were enthusiastically endorsed by Malkin (Iraq, tax cuts and so on). But there was Senator McCain on Face the Nation on Sunday talking about "generational theft." Whatever, senator, the fundamentals are strong so what's does it matter, right?
Meanwhile, Michael Steele, the newly elected head of the RNC and preemptive excuse for the next time a Republican talk radio host blurts out a racist remark, tried to tell a national television viewing audience that the government has never in the history of the United States created a job -- only "work." Yep. Do I really need to outline why this is crazy?
Former White House chief of staff Andy Card, meanwhile, attacked President Obama for violating a totally nonexistent Oval Office dress code. Republican columnist Fred Barnes cited a former Limbaugh producer named Marc Morano as his "scientific" source on global warming. FOX News is reading Republican talking points verbatim and passing them off as news copy -- typos and all. And after eight years of the smirking frat boy named George W. Bush, Malkin went so far as to accuse President Obama of being "snippy" during his prime time press conference.
Elsewhere, another far-right blogger is vowing to never again fist-bump with her friends at her tennis club. And when she's at the grocery store and is confronted by magazines with the president's face in the checkout line, she turns the magazines backwards. All of them. I'm not making this up.
They have indeed totally lost their shpadoinkle and despite purely involuntary spikes in my blood pressure, it's so much fun to watch. By successfully debunking their lies, rising above their bait and merely presenting a contrast of character, President Obama is making the Republican A-listers appear small, petty and absolutely befuddled. They're frantically struggling to figure out how to counterpunch, so they're grabbing, borrowing or downright plagiarizing ideas from anywhere, irrespective of the general quality of the idea. And if the Republicans are at all interested in continued survival, someone they respect should probably smack their hands and scold: Drop that filthy Limbaugh quote! You don't know where it's been!
But if this is their "voice" and they're satisfied with it, I for one welcome the new Republican "voice" and wish them a hearty and very sincere: Good luck with that.
Order my book: One Nation Under Fear, with a foreword by Arianna Huffington. Also available in stores.