Make that paragraphs, plural. Yesterday, I discussed wingnuttery and the reluctance of current Democratic candidates to call opponents on their lunacy. Ed Kilgore was thinking along the same lines in this post at TPM Cafe, Is extremism not a character issue?
So Democrats calling attention to Ernst’s multiple passionate statements subscribing to the insane, John Birch Society-inspired conspiracy theory that the United Nations is behind land-use regulations of every kind is treated as the equivalent of Republicans howling about Braley’s “chicken suit.” The reason, I suppose, is that you can’t criticize a pol for pandering to “the base” during primaries and then “moving to the center” in general elections. It’s just what you do.
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Extremism is, or should be, a “character” issue. And so, too, should be flip-flopping. Personally, I respect “personhood” advocates for taking a dangerous position based on the logical extension of strongly-held if exotic ideas about human development. I don’t respect those like Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst who try to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.
That reminds me of dueling campaign buttons from 1964:
This proto-meme came about after Goldwater threw the gaunlet *at* Rockefeller and other liberal (sane conservative) Republicans in his acceptance speech at the GOP convention at the Cow Palace. (A drafty, cavernous arena in Daly City, CA where I saw Keith Moon pass out at the Who’s first US stop of the Quadrophenia tour. But that’s a story for another day.) Here’s the exact quote:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
By way of explanation, the exclamation points aren’t mine. As you know, Homey don’t play that. The reason Goldwater felt obliged to repeat a phrase he first used in his Brent Bozell ghosted tome, The Conscience Of A Conservative, is that he was being criticized for being the original “wacko bird.” As a candidate, Goldwater was guilty of loose talk about nuclear weapons and his loose lips sank his ship in the 1964 general election. Having a major party candidate who sounded like General Buck Turgidson probably helped Dr. Strangelove at the box office…
The buttons show that there was a time when Democrats would call a nut a nut. In fact, Lyndon Johnson was known to call political infighting, “nut-cutting.” Ouch. LBJ may have been a prick but he was our prick…
I realize that looking back at Barry Goldwater circa 1964 might strike some as unfair. Fuck that, I’m a blogger, not some “even-handed” pundit. It *is* true that the current group of conservatives make Goldwater look sane: he hated Jerry Falwell and had fairly advanced views on gay rights because of having a gay grandchild. He also learned to cultivate the press after his return to the Senate. He liked having a few drinks with the boys and it paid off with better publicity. Senator Walnuts learned from the Master….
Goldwater’s comparative sanity is more of an illustration of how *extreme* the Republican right has become since the election of St. Ronnie in 1980. The bats flew out of the Republican belfry that year and have never returned. But for those of you who think that the red baiting, civil rights opposing Barry Goldwater was some sort of crypto-librul, check out this campaign ad:
I guess the Freepers would say that his vision came true in January of 2009…