Will rational Republicans please rise?

I keep trying to write something other than rants about Republican politics, but I can’t.

It’s simply too important to point out the dangers of their science denial, their attacks on public education, their clinging to destructive economic policy, their preference for war and fear-mongering, rejection of compromise, desire for theocracy. Abandoning any claim to understanding democracy, much less supporting it, that party has turned to presidential candidates who prefer totalitarian bluster and lies to democracy and truth. Actual conservatism, all but dead now, had ideas that kept a toe grounded in reality; and they recognized our history. Who, for example, would argue for government bigger than it needs to be? Who, for another, would deny that our Constitution was founded on compromise, presumes public civility and rejects the idea of oligarchy?

But in their reflexive reactions to everything our president says or doesn’t say, does or doesn’t do, today’s right-wingers have left that all behind. I keep thinking, as yet another line is crossed, that their followers would have enough of it. That at some point followers of Fox “news” and the other conspiracy mongers of the airways would say, OK, that’s beyond the pale. Like they did, say, with the Dixie Chicks and their comparatively mild rebuke of that other president.

Consider those right-wing screamers’ reactions to President Obama’s announcement that he’ll be strengthening enforcement of existing gun laws. You know, the thing they’ve always demanded in response to calls for more laws: enforce the ones we have. Except when Barack Hussein Obama says it; then, it’s tyrannical tyranny by a tyrannizing tyrant. And when his plans include spending on mental health care, because, as the NRA tells us, mass murders are about that, not guns, it’s economic wastefulness. And now, despite demanding it for years, they’re even angry at how hostages in Iran got released. In their view, unless we get everything we want by dint of bombs and blood, we’re weak. Losers. Yes, say their followers. It’s only war and braggadocio that make us great.

About those gun-related executive orders, Charles Krauthammer opined “Obama’s not asleep at the wheel, he’s not at the wheel at all.” Good one, right? But consider this: The man he’s derided as a despotic dictator, when he acknowledges there’s only so much he can do without Congress, is criticized, with a straight face, by Dr. K for staying within the law. Alex Jones, of course, saw it differently: The president’s actions will lead to rounding up gun owners and putting them in camps the way Nazis did Jews. Yes, he said it. No doubt his followers believe it, because that’s what passes for policy disagreement nowadays. Even moralistic Rand Paul has turned to Jones for advice. Simply amazing.

That’s just the sideshow, though, predictable as voting to repeal Obamacare without offering alternatives. The real tell is in their claims that President Obama faked tears as he spoke of children who’ve died from gun violence. Because in their universe, only fetus-Americans deserve tears. Outside the womb, the young are on their own. Empathy and concern for children, deep enough to bring tears to a president who’s had to meet repeatedly with the families of murdered kids, can only be fake. No matter how much you disagree with President Obama, who can defend that level of mendacity and hatefulness? If it’s not enough to make Foxophiles change the channel, what is?

What does it say about their view of voters that candidates think the path to credibility consists in saying to the president, as Chris Christie did, “We’re gonna kick your butt out of the White House.” Marco Rubio says he bought a gun for protection against ISIS. Does a majority of Republicans think that way? Is that what’s required to win conservatives’ votes nowadays? If so, what hope is there? If not, why their silence?

Here’s a thought: Imagine rational people hearing the words President Obama spoke in his final State of the Union address without knowing the speaker. Which would they find consistent with a person who, as the screamers claim, hates America, who’s deliberately made us weak? At what point will today’s Republicans demand respectful dialogue from their preferred leaders?

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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