Radical Republicans Not New

Regular readers of this blog, and similar, better blogs, already realized that froth-mouthed Republicans have been around for a while now, and the only thing that has changed is that the corporate media has started to notice, slightly, that moderate Republicans are no longer welcome in the GOP.

Rino Bar

Paul Krugman has more:

But I’d like to offer two alternative hypotheses: First, Republican extremism was there all along — what’s changed is the willingness of the news media to acknowledge it. Second, to the extent that the power of the party’s extremists really is on the rise, it’s the economy, stupid.

On the first point: when I read reports by journalists who are shocked, shocked at the craziness of Maine’s Republicans, I wonder where they’ve been these past eight or so electoral cycles. For the truth is that the hard right has dominated the G.O.P. for many years. Indeed, the new Maine platform is if anything a bit milder than the Texas Republican platform of 2000, which called not just for eliminating the Federal Reserve but also for returning to the gold standard, for killing not just the Department of Education but also the Environmental Protection Agency, and more.

Somehow, though, the radicalism of Texas Republicans wasn’t a story in 2000, an election year in which George W. Bush of Texas, soon to become president, was widely portrayed as a moderate.

Or consider those talk-show hosts. Rush Limbaugh hasn’t changed: his recent suggestion that environmentalist terrorists might have caused the ecological disaster in the gulf is no worse than his repeated insinuations that Hillary Clinton might have been a party to murder. What’s changed is his respectability: news organizations are no longer as eager to downplay Mr. Limbaugh’s extremism as they were in 2002, when The Washington Post’s media critic insisted that the radio host’s critics were the ones who had “lost a couple of screws,” that he was a sensible “mainstream conservative” who talks “mainly about policy.”

So why has the reporting shifted? Maybe it was just deference to power: as long as America was widely perceived as being on the way to a permanent Republican majority, few were willing to call right-wing extremism by its proper name.

(click to continue reading Paul Krugman- The G.O.P. – Going to Extreme – NYTimes.com.)

Anyone who paid attention to George Bush in 1999 and 2000 realized that Compassionate Conservative was just a phrase, a meaningless, focus group tested phrase, but if a historically minded reader goes back and reads Newsweek, and Time, and the newspapers that existed then, or transcripts from CNN, etc., you’d be hard pressed to find much discussion of how conservative Bush was. Of course, the Tea Baggers have disavowed Bush now, and moved even more to the right. Scary.

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