They're Soaking In It

Here's the problem with our politics. Conservative eminence grise Norman Podhoretz writes the following in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend:

Furthermore, what Mr. Westen regards as an opportunistic appeal to the center we [conservatives] interpret as a tactic calculated to obfuscate his unshakable strategic objective, which is to turn this country into a European-style social democracy while diminishing the leading role it has played in the world since the end of World War II. The Democrats have persistently denied that these are Mr. Obama's goals, but they have only been able to do so by ignoring or dismissing what Mr. Obama himself, in a rare moment of candor, promised at the tail end of his run for the presidency: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."...

He is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president, and it is this rather than inexperience or incompetence or weakness or stupidity that accounts for the richly deserved failure both at home and abroad of the policies stemming from that reprehensible cast of mind.

Among the characteristics of the paranoid imagination is the ability to take a pile of evidence countering your thesis -- say, the experience of two years of a presidency comprising hundreds of policy moves demonstrating Barack Obama to be a center-left politician -- and say, "None of that matters. What matters is this thing he said once, which when you interpret it in the right way, provides the key that unlocks the sinister hidden plan at work." Another feature of the paranoid imagination is the insistence that your enemies are possessed of extraordinary, even superhuman competence. They never make mistakes. If Obama's economic policies had succeeded, it would have shown how clever he is in laying the groundwork for the coming socialist revolution. The fact that those policies haven't succeeded shows how he's intentionally subverting our economy to lay the groundwork for the coming socialist revolution.

I give this to you not just to say, "Look what these crazy conservatives are saying!" Podhoretz is a buffoon whose "ideas," such as they are, ought not be taken seriously by anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex, regardless of their ideology. But the point is: This piece of rancid tripe appeared not on some nobody's blog but in The Wall Street Journal, the highest-circulation newspaper in America.

This actually helps us understand the perspective of elite Republicans. When you see people in positions of authority pour invective on Obama and insist that whatever he says is a lie, remember that they marinate in this stuff. Republican members of Congress are probably e-mailing Podhoretz's op-ed to each other. Go into their offices and Fox News is on the television, and the radio's playing Rush Limbaugh, where they'll get the same message again and again. And we're surprised when they refuse to compromise with him?