Back when I was first blogging in 2003 or so I had a few civilized exchanges with Jon Henke, but we never could agree regarding my ongoing thesis at Orcinus -- namely, that ideas, agendas, talking points, and memes in general regularly migrated from the extremist right in America into mainstream conservatism. (This, as it happens, is also the core thesis of my book The Eliminationists.)
Sometime after I posted about the 380th example of this Henke stopped commenting (in apparent disgust) and I hadn't heard from him since.
But he certainly made some waves last week when -- clearly, and appropriately, disgusted by Jerome Corsi's bizarre piece in WorldNetDaily suggesting that President Obama was preparing concentration camps to round up and imprison his conservative critics -- Henke urged his fellow conservatives to disassociate themselves from WND in every way possible.
Henke continues to contend that the continuum between far-right wingnuts like the WND crowd and mainstream conservatives -- what I have described as "the transmission belt", with WorldNetDaily playing a significant media role for many years -- remains small indeed. That is what he did in his otherwise standup appearance on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program last night.
That claim, of course, was massively undercut by Terry Krepel's follow-up reporting for Media Matters, which noted that "one of the organizations that has rented WND's mailing list is ... the Republican National Committee." With full screen shots.
Henke called upon the RNC to disassociate itself from WND, but they unsurprisingly have politely declined.
That's because, of course, the transmission belt is now the be-all and end-all of Republicans' current political strategy. The idea, much as it was in the 1990s, is to delegitimize Obama's presidency by whipping up the far right with unhinging conspiracy theories that spread into the mainstream as well. This undermining is then exploited by the "mainstream" Republicans in precisely the way we've just witnessed with the teabaggers' derailing of the health-care debate. It's deeply cynical -- not to mention dangerous -- but hey, it works.
As David Weigel's superb reporting afterwards demonstrated, the WND's pull within the Beltway Republican crowd -- and its ability to insinuate itself within the mainstream media, particularly on Fox -- is substantial indeed. Just ask Van Jones.
Henke obviously doesn't want to face up to the reality that it is his fellow mainstream conservatives -- you know, the people who should be standing up to this wingnuttery as unrepresentative of their movement -- who are actively enabling the most insane elements of the American Right. But then, he never has.
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