The Mayo Clinic, the world famous institution cited by all sides in the contentious health care debate, defines schizophrenia as a serious brain disorder "in which reality is interpreted abnormally" resulting in "hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior." Apparently, that affliction is now running rampant among supporters of the Republican Party. As recent polling about conservative beliefs regarding Medicare, taxes, supposed "death panels," President Obama's citizenship and more shows, the crisis of Republican schizophrenia has reached epidemic proportions.
Here, then, are the five symptoms of incurable Republican schizophrenia:
(If you exhibit one or more of these warning signs, see your physician immediately. If you don't have health insurance - and if your state voted Republican, you're much more likely not to - Democrats will try to provide it for you.)
1. "Keep Government Out of Medicare." In July, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) described an angry constituent who confronted him at a South Carolina town hall meeting, "keep your government hands off my Medicare." Despite his best efforts to explain that Medicare is a government program, the voter, Inglis lamented, "wasn't having any of it."
But as new data from Public Policy Polling revealed, that same cognitive failure is now far more widespread than swine flu. While 39% of all Americans responded that the government should "stay out of Medicare," 59% of self-identified conservatives and 62% of McCain voters hold that oxymoronic view.
2. "Barack Obama is a Muslim." An April survey by the Pew Research Center showed that 11% of Americans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, a figure largely unchanged since its polling started in March 2008. Yet 17% of Republicans and 19% of white evangelicals (74% of whom voted for John McCain) insist the President is an adherent of Islam, despite his repeated pronouncements and decades of church attendance to the contrary.
3. "Barack Obama Was Not Born in the United States." This contagion is running rampant among the ranks of Republicans. And even with repeated treatments of birth certificates and Hawaiian newspaper announcements from 1961, there is apparently no cure.
A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll found that a stunning 58% of Republicans did not believe (28%) or were unsure (30%) that President Barack Obama was in fact born in the United States. To be sure, this is a Southern pathology, a region home to 69% of all birthers and the only part of the country to increase its Republican presidential vote in 2008. This week's PPP survey only confirmed the chronic birtherism plaguing the Republican Party:
Only 62% of respondents reported believing that Obama was born in the United States. 10% thought he was born in Indonesia, 7% thought he was born in Kenya, 1% thought he was born in the Philippines, and 20% weren't sure. Among Republicans 44% think he was not born here while just 36% believe that he was.
(In a promising development, only 10% of respondents weren't sure if Hawaii is part of the United States. On this score, conservatives were only slightly more confused than liberals and moderates.)
4. "Government Death Panels Will Euthanize My Grandma." Sadly, the Republicans' Birther and Deather psychoses represent a cradle-to-grave illness.
Despite the vaccinations administered by PolitiFact, ABC News, the New York Times and countless other care-givers, Republicans persist in their virulent health care death panel delusions. This out-of-control CTD (conservative transmitted disease) has spread like wildfire, thanks to vectors like Betsy McCaughey, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. (Even a Republican like Senator Chuck Grassley, previously diagnosed by President Obama as sane, came down with the deather flu.)
An NBC poll this week quantified the deather madness: a staggering 45 percent said it's likely the government will decide when to stop care for the elderly. (Majorities also wrongly believe that reform proposals on the table would constitute a government "takeover" of the health care system, one which would cover illegal aliens.)
In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly.
5. "President Obama Raised Taxes on Working People." The Republicans' profound cognitive disorders are not limited to their hallucinations about Barack Obama's birth or the health care imbroglio. As the Tea Party movement shows, furious right-wing zealots are outraged by no taxation with representation.
As promised, Barack Obama in the stimulus package delivered on his pledge of tax relief for 95% of American households. Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) didn't only jump start gross domestic product and refill empty state coffers in the second quarter of 2009. As Nate Silver thoroughly documented, "Obama has cut taxes for 98.6% of working households."
Nevertheless, frothing at the mouth Tea Baggers spouting Republican Tax Day lies took to the streets not to thank the President, but to blame him for the tax cuts they received. While Andrew Sullivan described their unreasoning mania as "adolescent, unserious hysteria," the Daily Show's Jon Stewart diagnosed their disorder:
"I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing."
Back in April, I appropriated Daniel Patrick Moynihan's classic statement to conclude that with their rag-tag band of revolutionaries, secessionists and agitators for violence, Republicans were "defining political deviancy down." Sadly, the delusional and the deviant are now descending on town hall meetings with guns. The Republican schizophrenics are no longer just a danger to themselves.
UPDATE: Newsweek adds the "Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate" to its list of "Seven Falsehoods About Health Care." Meanwhile, the RNC added to a new pathology, suggesting in a poll that "GOP voters may be discriminated against for medical treatment" under a Democratic health care plan.