I argued yesterday that the John Bircher worldview that Pres. Eisenhower could laugh off– of evil communist government conspiracies destroying freedom and wealth– has now come to define the entirety of the Republican party.
Today’s Paul Krugman column makes a similar point about Mitt Romney, which ties into things about Mitt we’ve talked about before:
on Fox News on Sunday… Mitt Romney bought fully into the claim that gas prices are high thanks to an Obama administration plot.
This claim isn’t just nuts; it’s a sort of craziness triple play — a lie wrapped in an absurdity swaddled in paranoia. …
First, the lie: No, President Obama did not say, as many Republicans now claim, that he wanted higher gasoline prices. … The claim … is a lie, pure and simple. And it’s a lie wrapped in an absurdity, because the president … doesn’t control gasoline prices, or even have much influence over those prices. … [See, e.g., these charts showing that all world gas prices move in tandem, and that US oil production doesn't affect prices because we don't have enough to move the supply curve]
Finally, there’s the paranoia, the belief that liberals in general, and Obama administration officials in particular, are trying to make driving unaffordable as part of a nefarious plot against the American way of life. And, no, I’m not exaggerating. This is what you hear even from thoroughly mainstream conservatives. …
And it’s not just gas prices…, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans — …important political figures… — firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax … involving thousands of scientists… Meanwhile, others are attributing the recent improvement in economic news to a dastardly plot to withhold stimulus funds, releasing them just before the 2012 election. And let’s not even get into health reform. …
Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right’s paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America’s political life. And he should be held accountable for his actions.
It seems to me that Romney has gone great lengths to demonstrate that he really doesn’t care one iota about policy– i.e., the stuff that politicians work on that affects Americans’ lives. He simply wants to be president.
He took a cool, rational look at what it would take to run for president as a Republican. He found that it meant lying repeatedly about everything. Because he doesn’t have moral beliefs or policy preferences, he’s gone ahead and lied about everything, constantly, throughout the campaign– “apology tour”, “entitlement society”, put free enterprise on trial”, “Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis”,“regulatory uncertainty”, “throw Israel under the bus”, deliberately harming America, lying about foreign policy, “class warfare“, “very little of” federal spending goes anywhere but to bureaucrats, etc.
That’s because he wants to impress GOP leaders and the GOP base.
If folks in the Tea/Republican Party were upset about deficit spending and expanding government power, they would have been out there protesting the Bush-era policies that created our debt, the executive’s asserted power to indefinitely detain citizens taken into custody on American soil without trial or charge, and to wiretap American citizens without a warrant, No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration’s position in Raich v. Gonzales, our misleadingly sold and incompetently prosecuted invasion and occupation of a foreign country, and deficit-spending-financed Medicare Part D (as opposed to the deficit-reducing ACA).
But they weren’t. Because they don’t care about policy. They care about being on a side, and having their side win.
That’s why Republican congressmen who want to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and in Congress have no idea what the Ten Commandments are. It’s not about political philosophy, it’s about identity, being part of a tribe, and rubbing it in non-members’ faces.
So, Romney says that the president apologizes for America and is deliberately scheming against our interests. He’s nothing if not an empiricist!
An unknowable question: would a President Romney view his interests as maintaining his base and therefore continuing to campaign entirely on resentment, or would he revert to the stimulus-favoring, health-mandate implementing, problem-solving approach he once had to governance?
Because there’s no way of knowing, voting for Romney is a reckless gamble.