It was somewhat gratifying to see Chris Matthews' right-leaning panel on his Sunday show -- which was, as expected, eager to deny the role of racism in the ugly animus that's been directed at Barack Obama -- at least admit the truth:
David Brooks: What Rush and Glenn Beck are doing is race-baiting. 100 percent. That's race-baiting.
Kathleen Parker: What Rush Limbaugh and Beck did in those two clips is to empower racists.
But it was even more interesting to watch Brooks in particular somehow manage to stumble upon the core of the problem:
Matthews: Would the White House like the leaders of both parties to say, 'Cool it'?
Brooks: Well, I think they would. First, I think Father Coughlin was objecting to FDR, and he -- that's what we're seeing, Father Coughlin, that's what these guys are --
Matthews: And he was far right.
Brooks: He was far right. The White House understands, you've got 10 percent of the country over here on the wacky right, 10 percent on the wacky left, that's not what they can pay attention to. And they're not going to pay attention to it. They're sticking with the independents -- that's what the health care, why it's tending toward the center.
The one danger -- the main danger of all this, the Glenn and the Rush and all that -- they're not going to take over the country. But they are taking over the Republican Party.
And so if the Republican Party is sane, they will say no to these people. But every single elected leader in the Republican Party is afraid to take on Rush and Glenn Beck.
Brooks' percentages are off -- it's more like about 5 percent on the left and 30 percent on the right side, and this latter fact is actually what he identifies as the problem; the right has been so overwhelmed by its wingnutty elements that they have largely taken over the GOP at this juncture in time. And there's no prospect of the David Brookses ever getting it back -- in no small part because they refuse to acknowledge the magnitude of what they're up against.
But at least they recognize the problem. That's a start.