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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Pretty Wild Mainstream

I don’t quite know exactly where this is coming from, but there’s clearly a media effort underway to show that the conservative movement and the Republican Party are reining in “the extremists” in their ranks, presumably in order to look all ready to govern.
Today’s Politico features a long piece by Kennth Vogel detailing claims by various conservative and Tea Party spokesmen that the influence of “the fringe” has been grossly exaggerated by “the Left,” and that in fact unruly elements are being ignored or excluded by the Right’s grownups.
“Birthers,” Birchers and militia types, we are told, are being shown the door, and haven’t been that important to begin with, except in the propaganda of the Left.
The door-keepers in Vogel’s account, however, are not a group that would normally strike you as moderately-tempered unless the bar for political sanity is set very low. One is none other than Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation, who told Vogel that activists needed “to control the message and to prevent the tea party movement from being hijacked.” That’s interesting, since Phillips’ recent National Tea Party Convention featured a race-baiting keynote address by Tom Tancredo, another speech by “birther” advocate Joseph Farrah of WorldNetDaily, and a breakout panel headed by Christian Right extremist Roy Moore. Another is dirty-trickster and ACORN conspiracy theorist Andrew Breitbart, who is credited with disrepecting Farrah at Phillips’ event. Still another is Erick Erickson of RedState, that ferocious advocate of strife against “squishes” and moderates of every variety.
If these folk want to keep “the Left” from talking about crazy people on the Right, they might want to make their policing a bit more rigorous than the occasional tip from the coach to stay on the political sidelines. “The Left” did not invent the cosponsorship of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference by the John Birch Society and the militia-friendly Oathkeepers. But more to the point, it’s a disturbing sign in intself that people like Phillips, Breitbart and Erickson are being treated as some sort of “mainstream,” where it’s perfectly normal to call President Obama a socialist, treat Democrats as presumptive traitors, and advocate an array of radical economic and social policies. All the “self-policing of the Right” narrative really shows is how far and fast conservatives have recently moved to what used to be thought of as “the fringe.” It’s cold comfort to learn there is ample frontier territory on the Right that’s well beyond that.

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