Ezra Klein renders a diagnosis of the latest Malkin/wingnut crusade -- against 12-year-old Graeme Frost -- into plain English:
This is the politics of hate. Screaming, sobbing, inchoate, hate. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to drive to the home of a Republican small business owner to see if he “really” needed that tax cut. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to call his family and demand their personal information. It would never occur to me to interrogate his neighbors. It would never occur to me to his smear his children.To punctuate the point, Klein cites a recent account by Jim Henley of road rage, threats and a near assault provoked by simply ... well, let him explain it:
The shrieking, atavistic ritual of personal destruction the right roars into every few weeks is something different than politics. It is beyond politics. It was done to Scott Beauchamp, a soldier serving in Iraq. It was done to college students from the University of California, at Santa Cruz. Currently, it is being done to a child and his family. And think of those targets: College students, soldiers, children. It can be done to absolutely anyone.
This is not politics. This is, in symbolism and emotion, a violent group ritual. It is savages tearing at the body of a captured enemy. It is the group reminding itself that the Other is always disingenuous, always evil, always lying, always pitiful and pathetic and grotesque.
I yell back when he stops for air, “What is your FUCKING problem? What did I do to you?”Liberal protesters may camp out in front of Nancy Pelosi's house, but that's about it. Malkin's mob falls into this disturbing brand of conservatism, the kind of insecure, easily threatened people who beat up guys with long hair in the 60s before wearing theirs long in the 70s.
He leans out to point at my car bumper. Which is entirely unadorned except for a Kerry-Edwards sticker from 2004.
“YOU FAGGOT YOU VOTED FOR THAT WAR CRIMINAL. I’M GOING TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.” Guy is turning a shade of purple. I don’t think he’s just putting on a show. He actually sped up, nearly rammed with his car at high speed and is now seriously contemplating attacking me over a bumper sticker.
There are plenty of sane people on the right, to be sure -- some of my relatives among them -- but for too many twisted individuals conservatism isn't a political philosophy, it's a personality disorder.
Dave Neiwert has the last say:
[h/t Dave Neiwert/TomPaine.com]
It's important to make an issue of eliminationist talk precisely because it is so poisonous to the national discourse. For starters, its innate divisiveness belies its practitioners' demands for "national unity." Moreover, its targets are in a lose-lose position: if they attempt to continue to practice the old-fashioned politics of traditional civility out of principle, they are doomed to be bulldozered; but if they stand up and fight back, they're accused of being uncivil. (It's funny how bullies act all wounded and picked on when somebody punches back.)
This is easily the ugliest facet of a conservative movement that doesn't have many attractive ones to begin with, and the more the general public sees it in all its mouth-foaming glory, the less they want anything to do with them. With polls a month ago showing something like 86 percent support for SCHIP, nasty attacks on 12-year-olds seem unlikely to change the public's mind. (A more recent Rasmussen poll showed 57 percent disapproved of President Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill.) More important, there's a growing consensus that, like the centrists at Poliblogger, we are "sick to death of these people and their views of both politics and public discourse."
Yet at the same time, eliminationist rhetoric creates a vicious upward spiral that inevitably expresses itself in violence: When its practitioners face the inevitable retaliation, their response always is to ratchet it up another notch, until the back-and-forth gets so ugly that hardly anyone can tell who is worse. This is not discourse; it's a recipe for the destruction of our democratic institutions.