Rachel Maddow: The Republicans' Small Angry Tent

Rachel Maddow weighs in on the fringe elements of the conservative movement taking over the Republican party and she hits the nail on the head with th
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Rachel Maddow weighs in on the fringe elements of the conservative movement taking over the Republican party and she hits the nail on the head with this statement:

MADDOW: It doesn‘t make sense anymore to talk about the relationship between the extreme fringe of the conservative movement and the modern Republican Party, because you can only discern a relationship between two things if you can tell those two things apart.

She followed up with Lincoln Chafee who believes this is going to assure they continue to lose elections since there is no room left in the Republican party for moderates.

Transcript below the fold.

MADDOW: But we begin tonight with what could fairly be judged as a distraction from the president‘s health care message last night, but it is a distraction that‘s also turning out to be a very clarifying look at American politics. The South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who yelled “You lie” at the president in the middle of his address to Congress last night, today felt himself on the receiving end of support and congratulations for that outburst.

While many of his Republican colleagues in Congress express their disapproval of what Congressman Wilson did, a steady stream of well-wishers descended upon the congressman‘s office in D.C. today to say quite the opposite. Among them were radical anti-abortion activist Randall Terry and members of the Montgomery, Alabama Tea Party Patriots. Congressman Wilson also found a wealth of support from conservative outposts on the online machines.

Today, the conservative Web site Palmetto Scoop began giving away “I‘m with Joe Wilson” t-shirts. The RedState blog dubbed Congressman Wilson, quote, “A great American hero,” urging its readers to “open our wallets for Joe.”

For his part, Congressman Wilson released a YouTube video tonight incredibly trying to raise money off his newfound notoriety saying, “I will not be muzzled,” and railing against, quote, “the liberal who is want to give health care to illegals.”

The groups that have come to Congressman Wilson‘s defense over the past 24 hours, that have even literally come to his office to show their support can help us understand the state of American politics right now, at least the state of Republican politics right now—the extent to which the Republican Party has integrated itself with its own fringe extremes.

Joe Wilson is not a well-known congressnan. And he‘s not a well-known congressman for a reason. He‘s not considered to be an extremist in his party. He‘s considered to be a typical back-bench Republican congressman.

And right now, in American politics today, being a typical back-bench Republican member of Congress means doing things like opening the doors of your congressional office to participants in the 9/12 March on Washington, which Congressman Joe Wilson is planning to do this Saturday. The 9/12 March on Washington is essentially a national tea party, a big organized ostensibly grassroots march on the nation‘s capital.

If you go to their Web site, you‘ll see that, quote, “We‘ve had enough of the out-of-control spending. We are gathering on 9/12/2009 to deliver our message in person that we‘ve had enough.” The “we” here is actually the Republican-run corporate-funded organization called FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks is charging some groups tens of thousands of dollars to take part in these grassroots events.

Today, during the kickoff event for this whole weekend of 9/12 things, the head of FreedomWorks, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, came to Congressman Joe Wilson‘s defense, arguing that we should, quote, “cut Mr. Wilson a little slack.”

The crowd of several hundred people who were listening to Mr. Armey at that rally reportedly shouted “You lie, you lie!”—not because they thought Dick Armey was lying but because they liked that Congressman Joe Wilson yelled that last night at the president in the middle of his address to Congress.

If you look at 9/12 march Web site, you can see the organizations who are sponsoring the event. One group that‘s listed as a bronze co-sponsor of the event is called the National Association of Rural Landowners, or NARLO.

If you surf on over to the NARLO Web site, it turns out that they‘re calling for violent revolution. They‘re calling for the overthrow of the United States government. The government and the media both described as, quote, “our enemy within.” “Unless we come together in a cohesive, fighting unit, our freedoms and liberties shall fade into the dark chasm of socialism and radical environmentalism.”

Included on the Web site of this group that, again, is a bronze sponsor of the 9/12 march on Saturday, is an ominous warning that, quote, “a day of reckoning is at hand.” They also encourage people who are visitors to their Web site to buy guns now. They also posted a video that forecasts massive protests followed by the rapid secession of states, followed by a new civil war.

Congressman Joe “You lie!” Wilson is opening his congressional office to these nice folks for the 9/12 march. The march will also be addressed by Republican members of Congress, including Tom Price and Mike Pence and Marsha Blackburn. Also, Republican Senator Jim DeMint will be speaking.

It doesn‘t make sense anymore to talk about the relationship between the extreme fringe of the conservative movement and the modern Republican Party, because you can only discern a relationship between two things if you can tell those two things apart.

About half an hour ago, the top-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives—not some anonymous back-bencher nobody‘s ever heard of until he had a tantrum on television—the top-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, the minority leader, John Boehner, appeared on a webcast organized by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.

This is an anti-health care reform webcast. It features the top Republican in the House of Representatives and it is hosted by a group that describes health reform as, quote, “Obama‘s tax-and-death power grab” which will, quote, “produce a moral disaster and enable the Washington liberals to use your taxes to turn their entire anti-life agenda—from unrestricted abortion on demand to euthanasia—into national health care policy.”

Getting called a liar was a distraction from President Obama‘s speech on health care last night. It created a circus-like spectacle last night and, frankly, all day today. And, it was also a clarifying moment about who the opposition is right now, for the president and for Democrats—and maybe for some moderate Republicans.

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