Frank Rich, the former NY Times drama critic turned left-wing opinion guru, has today written an opinion piece which provides a great window into how liberals view the world. Not surprisingly, they believe that only right-wing fascist nut-jobs are crazy enough to oppose their enlightened policies and programs. There is no rational, intellectual basis for why conservatives do anything -- except to roll the clock back to the dark days of back alley abortions and segregation. Its a caricature worthy of a comic book. Rich sees the uproar over the New York 23rd Congressional district race as a sign that the Republicans are in a civil war between "reasonable moderate Republicans" and right-wing conservative ideologues of the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin school. And, predictably, he believes that it will show the nation that the Republican Party is lurching rightward, to a place of armed militias where "angry white men" stalk innocent women, children and minorities. Rich sees what has happened in New York as a "gift" to the Democrats -- and says that the Republican infighting will be "a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats through 2010, and perhaps beyond." This view, of course, reflects a belief widely shared among liberals that the "rest of America" doesn't share the basic values that have spurred the pro-Doug Hoffman movement -- limited government, low taxes, and fealty to the Constitution.
According to Rich, such beliefs are "wacky and paranoid":
"The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck, neither of whom has what Palin once called the “actual responsibilities” of public office, would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity. Over the short term, at least, their wish could come true."
This is typical left-wing spin. The Republican Party in upstate New York hand selected a liberal Republican who fully supports the Obama stimulus and is both pro-choice and pro gay marriage -- a candidate who is clearly out of step with the conservative demographics of the district. The uproar was created not because of a cabal of "wacky cultists" but because conservatives want a candidate who is not on the Obama socialist bandwagon. That's hardly a radical position. Rich makes it seem -- as liberals often do -- that if you aren't for abortion-on-demand and deficit busting spending you are some right-wing zealot. They are so certain of the moral rightness of their positions that anyone who disagrees is crazy, stupid or both. It is the height of arrogance.
"The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats’ prospects next year. But the electoral math is less interesting than the pathology of this movement. Its antecedent can be found in the early 1960s, when radical-right hysteria carried some of the same traits we’re seeing now: seething rage, fear of minorities, maniacal contempt for government, and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes. Writing in 1964 of that era’s equivalent to today’s tea party cells, the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that the John Birch Society’s “ruthless prosecution” of its own ideological war often mimicked the tactics of its Communist enemies.
The same could be said of Beck, Palin and their acolytes. Though they constantly liken the president to various totalitarian dictators, it is they who are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode. They drove out Arlen Specter, and now want to “melt Snowe” (as the blog Red State put it). The same Republicans who once deplored Democrats for refusing to let an anti-abortion dissident, Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, speak at the 1992 Clinton convention now routinely banish any dissenters in their own camp."
Rich's misread of what is going on here is just staggering. Fortunately for conservatives, Rich's view of the summer tea parties and the conservative awakening is typical of the liberal establishment, which believes that its 2008 election victory marked a fundamental shift in America's politics from center-right to center-left.
The Democrats just don't get what has happened in the 9 months since Obama took office and began his naked power grab. The mood of the country has changed -- and the Congressional race in New York is a reflection of the level of frustration that conservatives have over what is taking place in this country. The more dismissive Rich is, the better it will be for those who want to take back the country in 2010 and 2012. Its a freight train coming, and the left remains deaf and blind to it.
Shhhh...let's not tell them the truth, ok?