It seems respectable Republicans who like to think of themselves as "intellectual" conservatives are growing dismayed at the living, breathing monster they themselves have unleashed upon us:
Such insiders point to theories running rampant on the Internet, such as the idea that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be president, or that he is a communist, or that his allies want to set up Nazi-like detention camps for political opponents. Those theories, the insiders say, have stoked the GOP base and have created a "purist" climate in which a figure such as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is lionized for his "You lie!" outburst last week when Obama addressed Congress.
They are "wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps," said David Frum, a conservative author and speechwriter for President George W. Bush who is among the more vocal critics of the party base and of the conservative talk show hosts helping to fan the unrest.
"Like all conservatives, I am concerned about this administration's accumulation of economic power," Frum said. "Still, you have to be aware that there's a line where legitimate concerns begin to collapse into paranoid fantasy."
Frum and other establishment Republicans have spoken out in recent days against the influence of what they view as their party's fringe elements.
Some are pressuring the Republican National Committee and other mainstream GOP groups to cut ties with WorldNetDaily.com, which reports some of the allegations. Its articles are cited by websites and pundits on the right. More than any other group, critics say, WorldNetDaily sets the conservative fringe agenda.
Well, as observed last week, getting unentwined from the liked of WorldNetDaily and its extremist clientele is easier said than done.
No, the right-wing populist beast is loose. You fellas have the right idea, but you're a bit late. We're already well into the great thrashing about that comes with any set of death throes, such as those now besetting movement conservatism. You can see how it plays out on the ground now, particularly at the Tea Parties. And it isn't pretty.
A camera crew from Free Speech Radio showed up in D.C. on Saturday for the big GlennBeckFest. It was frightening and disturbing and even got ugly. The reporter, Leigh Ann Caldwell, describes what happened:
We met a group of nearly a dozen "912ers." They adorned t-shirts with the fractured Revolutionary War snake, the symbol of their group created by Glenn Beck. At the end of the 10-minute interview, they demanded my contact information and a picture so they could "find" me if they didn't like our work. I took that as a threat, declined to give them my contact information and walked away. They followed and continued with their demands. I continued to decline.
One of the women then yelled into her megaphone that "the woman in the black shirt works for ACORN." She commanded the crowd to take my picture. They found out my last name from a previous interviewee, so she then yelled my full name into the megaphone and nearly 50 people surrounded and swarmed me, putting cameras in my face as they heckled and laughed. The crowd then followed me down Pennsylvania Avenue for the next ten minutes.
Robin Bell, the cameraman, posted that and other videos at his channel at YouTube.
I hope everyone took note of what color those T-shirts were. Please tell me that was just an accident.
Because the behavior sure did remind of people in that color of shirt. Nice earthy brown.
And dontcha love how the self-importance-inflating numbers -- the teabagging shouter ends by saying she was with 2 million great Americans that day -- have already become embedded reality for them. These are true fanatics. (The numbers, in reality, were closer to 60,000.)
Michael Shaw found some images from the 912 event along the same lines, with a touch of death wish thrown in for good measure.
We wish Frum and his sane conservative friends lots of luck rescuing their movement from the flood of wingnuttery washing away their lovely intellectual-right edifice. But let's face it, fellas -- it was made out of sand in the first place. These are the natural consequences of that fact.