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So teabagging Rep. Steve Stockmen, who threatened the president with impeachment, has invited Ted Nugent (the draft-dodging blowhard who's threatened to kill Obama) as his Very Special Guest at tonight's State of the Union address. He will offer comments for the media after the speech, and the media will of course oblige.
It's disgusting on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin. But as Greg Sergent said at the Plum Line, the worst thing is the gradual acceptance of absolute insanity as mainstream Republican thought:
But really, this episode is significant for reasons that go well beyond Nugent. The key actor here who matters is Steve Stockman. The problem lies in all the over-the-top stuff GOP lawmakers say regularly that isn’t quite crazy enough to earn widespread condemnation, as Nugent’s quotes have, but are still whacked out enough to encourage an atmosphere that helps keep millions of GOP base voters sealed off from reality. The problem is the perpetual winking and nodding to The Crazy that is deemed marginally acceptable – the hints about creeping socialism, the claim that modest Obama executive actions amount to tyranny, the suggestions that Obama’s values are vaguely un-American and that Obama is transforming the country and the economy into something no longer recognizably American, and so on — more so than the glaringly awful stuff that gets the media refs to throw their flags.
As Jonathan Bernstein put it the other day, Republican lawmakers who flirt with this type of talk regularly are helping create an environment in which moderate Republicans are forever on the defensive and in fear of the base. If moderate Republicans want to change this, they will have to dial this stuff back:
They have to stop educating their rank-and-file voters to accept crazy stuff. That means cutting out the teleprompter jokes, the winks to birthers, the claims that Democrats are anti-American — all of it. It means that if a backbench member of the House yells out “you lie” during a presidential speech, he gets censured instead of praised. That’s going to mean some short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. It may be hard to go in front of a conservative crowd and resist an applause line calling Barack Obama a socialist. [...]
Can Republicans shut it all down? Of course not. But they could choose to minimize it. That means politicians steering clear of it; it means those party actors who care about winning elections doing what they can to discourage it from those party actors who have different incentives (such as those hawking that merchandise or who can make a very good living selling to a group which is a large market but a small portion of the electorate).
The problem isn’t so much Ted Nugent as it is the Steve Stockmans of the world telling their constituents that Obama’s sensible gun reforms rise to the level of impeachment.
These extremists won't really be happy until some socialist-hating assassin with an assault weapon takes down the president. If only the media could stop treating the craziness as part of a simple dialogue. But they're ambitious and like crackheads, they just can't help themselves.