May 2, 2009

A pretty good barometer of Republicans' utter desperation these days is just how farflung from reality their attempts to characterize President Obama are getting to be.

Newt Gingrich, who's clearly preparing for a 2012 White House run, was interviewed yesterday on Fox by Greta Van Susteren. Gingrich has been trying desperately to smear Obama as a weak leader, while cozying up to the GOP's tea-bagging populist wing.

So he hit on a way to hit both sweet spots in one swell foop: Smear Obama as an incipient authoritarian.

The subject was Obama's press conference earlier this week. First in the order, of course, he had to blame Obama's popularity on the media: "I think the Washington White House press corps has taken such a pathetic dive with this president that they ought to just be part of his PR firm!"

But then he there was this exchange:

Van Susteren: Well, you know, Fox News Channel got, quote, punished -- Fox News Channel didn't get a question the other night -- Major Garrett, our White House correspondent -- because the Fox broadcast, not the Fox News Channel, but the Fox broadcast decided not to air the press conference.

Gingrich: Right. Which should tell all of you about the abuse of power inherent in this administration. They now control General Motors, they basically control Chrysler, they control Citibank, they control AIG, and they are prepared to punish people.

I think that's very dangerous, to have a president who thinks he should get up in the morning and punish Americans. You know, appease foreigners, bow to the Saudi king, embrace the Venezuelan dictator, and punish Americans? I think that's a very dangerous attitude.

Gingrich is clearly counting on the public to be like Fox News anchors: They have a convenient case amnesia about the previous eight years of wiretapping, screw-the-public Republican rule.

But notice the underlying meme here: Obama is an incipient dictator who will punish his enemies and rule with an iron fist. Which, of course, is exactly what we're hearing from the growing militia contingent.

And then conservatives get all bent out of shape when someone like the DHS accidentally points out the growing similarities between them and right-wing extremists. Huh. Gee, wonder how that could happen.

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