Monday, November 9, 2009

Crazy People

It was a little gratifying to hear some of the sober talking heads yesterday mildly criticize the teabagger’s over-the-top rhetoric last week at their demonstration on Capitol Hill. Cokie Roberts said that Jon Voight’s screed against the president was “cringemaking,” which, coming from her, is impressive since she has basically given the far right a pass on their stunts. (As FDL noted, “You know you’ve really screwed the pooch when you get put in your place by … Cokie Roberts.”)

But that still doesn’t get past the fact that when all of the crazies were chanting and waving signs of President Obama as a jungle monkey and comparing his healthcare plan to Dachau, the Republican leaders didn’t distance themselves from it but were right in there leading them on. Oh, sure, they’ll say that they didn’t see the signs when they were at the podium, but there is such a thing as videotape and certainly Fox News was carrying it, so they had to know that such things were being said and shown. If House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) didn’t see them when he was addressing the crowd, he knows about it now and yet he’s silent on it. The most we’ve gotten out of them are the weasel words of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the only Jewish Republican in the House, who said that conjuring up such images as the Holocaust and comparisons to Hitler were “not very helpful.” Wow, he really told them.

The larger point, though, is that when you use such horrific images and over-the-top comparisons, you’re admitting that you’ve lost the argument; it’s Godwin’s Law. By failing to acknowledge this or attempt to pull the debate back into the realm of sanity, the Republicans are basically giving in to the crazies. So hearing them complain that they’ve been shut out of the discussion about how to reform healthcare isn’t because the Democrats are being intransigent or dictatorial. It’s because they remember the wise words of Billy Joel: you should never argue with a crazy man.

HT to Steve Benen.