In any party or political movement, there’s bound to be a mainstream and a fringe. As a rule, the fringe looks to the mainstream for validation, and
August 6, 2008

In any party or political movement, there’s bound to be a mainstream and a fringe. As a rule, the fringe looks to the mainstream for validation, and the mainstream looks at the fringe as kind of icky.

Things get interesting, of course, when the line between the mainstream and the fringe blurs. Take the Republican National Committee, for example.

The RNC is a fairly predictable, far-right animal. It’s run by lobbyists and business interests who divide their time between raising money and lying about Democrats. The RNC likes to exploit the ignorance of its base, and stoke the culture-war fires from time to time, but generally steer clear of the kind of insanity one might find in, say, a thread at the Free Republic. It’s the whole mainstream/fringe dynamic in practice.

At least, that’s usually the case. Yesterday morning, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan sent out this email to Republican donors.

It seems the Democrats’ would-be president of the United States of America really believes that the rest of the world’s problems, and approval, trump the interests of Americans when it comes to how we live our lives and where our money is spent. [...]

A bill he has sponsored in the U.S. Senate, the so-called Global Poverty Act
(S. 2433), would raise the amount of American tax dollars allocated to United Nations’ redistribution efforts to $845 billion.

That’s $2,500 from every American taxpayer, when many in our country already are struggling to make ends meet.

And with that, the line between the unhinged fringe and the Republican National Committee has disappeared. The lunatics, it appears, are running the asylum.

You can check Google and find literally thousands of right-wing activists who are just livid about Obama’s “plan” to give the United Nations $845 billion of our money. And they can’t imagine why the media refuses to tell the public about this nefarious scheme, but they’re pretty sure news outlets are in on some kind of conspiracy to keep this dastardly plan under wraps.

The problem, of course, is that there is no such plan. It’s a right-wing myth that has been making the rounds for months, and to which the Republican National Committee has finally given its imprimatur.

At issue here is a U.N. initiative to implement its Millennium Goals on global poverty, which would, in fact, total $845 billion over 13 years — from industrialized nations across the globe.

The Congressional Budget Office did a cost-estimate analysis of Obama’s legislation, co-sponsored by Joe Biden, and found that U.S. responsibilities “would cost less than $1 million per year.”

I know Republicans can struggle with math, so I’ll make this one simple: $1 million is a lot less than $845 billion.

Jonathan Cohn concluded, “[I]t certainly appears that the Republicans are telling a pretty bald-faced lie about Obama here. Of course, that wouldn’t be so new or surprising either, would it?”

No, not at all. But it is a little surprising that the RNC would jump head-first into the nutty end of the pool. This conspiracy theory isn’t just wrong, it’s plainly insane. That the RNC is talking about it, in writing, and emailing it to supporters nationwide suggests a) these guys really are desperate; and b) they’ve completely lost their mind.

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