Rubin Wants to Rid the GOP of ‘Crackpotism’

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin recognizes that the Republican party has a serious problem with crackpotism, the tendency to take seriously candidates and ideas from the far-right fringe of the party. And she thinks the party needs to get rid of that problem quickly.

But Republicans have their own problem: They tolerate far too many crackpots.

Dr. Ben Carson joins Mike Huckabee in refusing to accept that Supreme Court decisions, on gay marriage for example, are binding. Pressed by Chris Wallace, Carson insisted that Marbury v. Madison and more than 200 years of history have not settled the issue. “It is an open question. It needs to be discussed.” Actually, it’s not open, and him taking this seriously should disqualify him from office since he is telling us up front he won’t be bound by court decisions, something not even President Obama has done.

Huckabee has said much the same thing. And to boot he’s hawked “nutritional supplements” as a cure to diabetes. He insisted on Sunday, “One of the elements of the plan was dietary supplements, but it is not the fundamental thing.” (Then why encourage people to buy them?) He declared, “I don’t have to defend everything that I’ve ever done.” So he’s both a constitutional and dietary charlatan. Either one should disqualify him.

Then there is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who cynically chooses to pander to the conspiracy-mongers who turning a military exercise primarily in Texas into a secret plan to impose martial law. Cruz has taken their nonsense as legitimate and made inquiries at the Pentagon. Rich Lowry hit the nail on the head on ABC, calling this “pandering to a vocal minority.” He continued, “I’m all in favor of a healthy distrust of the government but not paranoia. There are many threats to our liberty. The U.S. military isn’t one of them. And besides, federal control of Texas is something that was pretty much established in the mid-19th century by President Polk. So, the idea that the federal government is going to go in and retake over Texas is just nonsense.” (You’ll recall that former Texas governor Rick Perry stood up to tell the conspiracy nuts to knock it off.)

In less obvious ways, some presidential hopefuls also play on the ignorance and fear of the public. How many times has Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) falsely suggested the National Security Agency is listening to the content of millions of phone calls? Before reversing himself, he also gave support to the anti-vaccine hooey. At what point do voters say, you know, that’s not the mindset or character of someone who we’d want as president?

But therein lies the real problem: The popularity of crackpots is entirely the fault of the Republican base. At what point do Republican voters say that? At no point in the foreseeable future. And the professionals that run the party, as much as they’d like to purge the party of the far-right fringe, know they can’t risk losing such a large percentage of their voting coalition. It’s a hell of a dilemma for them.

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  • keithb

    Politifact just had a “but they do it to” article about someone who declared George Bush a Fascist.

    http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/may/12/rich-lowry/did-liberal-writer-warn-about-bush-fascist-takeove/

    I don’t know who Naomi Wolf is, but she was not a presidential candidate of member of congress.

  • colnago80

    Re keithb @ #1

    I vaguely recall hearing the name but was other wise unfamiliar with her. According to her Wiki page, she was at one time a reputable commentator who has since turned to dubious claims. In this regard, she seems to bear some similarity to Seymour Hirsch who seems to have gone over the edge with his latest claims about the capture of bin Laden.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Wolf

  • colnago80

    Ms. Rubin doesn’t exactly come to the table with clean hands, being from the bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran school of diplomacy.

  • tbp1

    Crackpotism is the foundational doctrine of the modern conservative movement. How can the GOP possibly get rid of it?

  • Jared James

    Hang on, this is pretty close to reality-based analysis from Jennifer Rubin, whose career has rested almost entirely on never being in the same area code as an understanding of the real world. Will she survive this radical move to embrace Earth logic?

  • keithb

    I was also going to say, Ms. Rubin, that ship has sailed.

  • keithb

    colnago80:

    Or that Kennedy advisor (Pierre Salinger?) who swallowed the “missile shot down the airliner” a few decades ago.

  • dmcclean

    Is this thread being conducted in an alternate universe in which colnago80 is not “from the bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran school of diplomacy”?

  • MyPetSlug

    The problem is that Ms. Rubin is fighting the symptom and not the disease. These politicians don’t embrace crackpotism because of some personality flaw or because they aren’t being sufficiently called out by voices of reason. Crackpotism is popular within the based. Embracing crackpotism is actually an advantage for them. If they didn’t embrace crackpot ideas, they would be less popular than they are, not more.

    Honestly, the actual problem is probably the reverse of what’s she’s state. Some the of candidates probably think these ideas are total bullshit, but pretend to believe them because to do otherwise would tarnish their image.

  • colnago80

    Re Jared James @ #5

    In fairness, Ms. Rubin has never been a supporter of the theocratic religious right. She is, however, a neocon who favors an aggressive foreign policy.

    Re dmcclean @ #8

    Where I and Ms. Rubin differ is on the subject of using US ground troops in the Middle East. She is all in favor, I am adamantly opposed, based on our experiences in Vietnam and the 2nd Iraq War.

  • scienceavenger

    Hang on, this is pretty close to reality-based analysis from Jennifer Rubin, whose career has rested almost entirely on never being in the same area code as an understanding of the real world.

    Other people’s wacky theories are crackpottery. Mine aren’t.

    The real problem here is that the GOP didn’t leap from a reality-based view (which ironically enough, Rick Perry recently gave lip service to) to crackpottery in one foul swoop. They got there incrementally, starting with a base of evolution denial, then to the economic homeopathy that is the Laffer Curve, then all the Clinton Faux conspiracies of the 90’s, then to ACORN, Alinsky, and of course the Great Climate Change Conspiracy, and so on. Walking that all back could take just as long, if its even possible. Probably more efficient to just wait for them all to die off.

  • dmcclean

    So you, and not she, are in the “the bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran school of diplomacy”, and she wants a ground invasion. Got it.

  • dingojack

    keithb – ‘a Kennedy advisor’, ‘an airliner’, ‘several decades ago’?

    Are you sure you couldn’t manage to be a little more vague?

    Kennedy. Joe Snr., Joe Jnr, Jack, Robert, John Jnr? Or just some other person with a surname, or given name ‘Kennedy’?

    An airliner. Commercial, military, cargo? Location? Country of origin? Country or area it went down? Cause of accident?

    Several decades ago. 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s,1990’s, 2000’s, later?

    Was it even in this universe.

    Go on, give me clue.

    @@ Dingo

  • keithb

    It was Pierre Salinger in 1996:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Salinger

    “Salinger later became known for his claims in November 1996 that friendly fire from the United States Navy was the cause of the TWA Flight 800 crash. In November 2000, he became exasperated when he was denied permission to give exonerating evidence as part of his testimony before the Scottish Court in the Netherlands to try two Libyans for the downing on December 21, 1988, of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Salinger stated that he knew who the real bombers were, but was told by trial judge, Lord Sutherland: “If you wish to make a point you may do so elsewhere, but I’m afraid you may not do so in this court.”[16]”

  • dingojack

    scienceavenger – ‘one fell swoop‘. [see Macbeth Act 4, scene 3].

    Dingo

  • blf

    Whilst Ms Rubin is perhaps not the most perceptive or reliable of commentators, the quotes suggests that she is glimpsing some of the reasons the thugs are so repulsive. As quoted — and as Ed points out — she seemingly hasn’t followed-up on those few and incomplete glimpses. Even so, it could be encouraging that there are glimpses in someone of her dubious caliber.

    To to put it more simply: If even a nutcase realizes nutters are a problem, there might be a few photons (not a complete ray) of hope. However, it is still more likely Smaug will defeat the Eagles.

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    Pierre Salinger helped promote the idea that TWA Flight 800, which crashed off of Long Island on July 17, 1996, was shot down by a missile. The version he promoted was that it was shot down by a US Navy surface to air missile, which the government covered up. It was a theory that required the Navy to be testing a missile in an utterly inept fashion in one of the stupidest places possible to be staging a secret test with a missile with a live warhead. The NTSB investigation concluded the plane was destroyed by a fuel vapour explosion in one of its fuel tanks, but conspiracy theories persisted.

  • John Pieret

    dingo:

    I think he is referring to TWA flight 800 that crashed off Long Island:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_800

    There were a lot of conspiracy theories that grew up around it because a number of witnesses thought they saw something bright streaking towards the plane (i.e. a missile) just before it exploded in midair.

    Pierre Salinger was apparently among the conspiracy theorists:

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/07/12/twa.conspiracy/index.html

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    The popularity of crackpots is entirely the fault of the Republican base.

    I’m not so sure about this. Republican elites, whether elected or among the pundit class, have been pushing crackpottery for decades. Sowing deep mistrust about American civic institutions has been a deliberate strategy on their part to disengage and alienate the citizenry from their government. But now that it’s spread to the military, the NSA, or the Roberts court, suddenly it’s bad. Rubin primarily has people like herself to blame.

  • dingojack

    Ah, see Keith, it wasn’t so hard, now was it?

    In fact several eye-witnesses reported to the investigating team seeing a streak rising up toward TWA800 when it was in flight*. However if you think discounting and shutting-down a legitimate line of enquiry without having to adequately explain why one is did that, is some kind of ‘quackery’ or fraud …

    @@

    Dingo

    ———-

    * a missile strike was not consistent with the outward peel of the plane’s fuselage. The most likely cause was a vapour explosion in the near-empty centre fuel-tank.

    [Hey – I like watching those ‘when good planes go bad’ kinda shows. Sue me]

  • Georgia Sam

    The Republican Party has made a deal with the devil, & now they’re paying the price for services rendered. It started (or at least took a great leap forward) with Nixon’s southern strategy & went downhill from there. That’s how the devil operates: You take one step in a bad direction, & then you’re tempted to take another step, & another, & eventually he owns your soul.

  • Larry

    Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. The GOP, however, may already be too far gone for help. The leadership has cynically pushed and encouraged the true nut jobs to ever dizzying heights of insanity in order to get their votes but the insanity, like a nuclear reaction without proper controls, will grow until it takes out everything. The unfortunate side-effect is that its affects both the realists and the nut jobs.

  • colnago80

    Re dmcclean @ #12

    Rubin wants to bomb Iran as a a prelude to a ground invasion, much like Iraq was bombed in the prelude to the ground invasion of Kuwait in Gulf War I.

  • eric

    It’s a hell of a dilemma for them.

    Well the GOP mainstream’s solution to the dilemma is “insincere pandering.” You appear to agree with the base, then you do nothing whatsoever about their kooky (well, kookier) ideas once you’re in office. No GOP mainstreamer is going to get into office and actually, legally defy the Supreme Court. No GOP mainstreamer is going to get into office and actually implement a flat tax, or sincerely investigate DOD to see if they are planning some sort of martial law takeover of Texas (maybe they throw a few million into a study, but the conclusion will be foregone). But they will talk that talk on the campaign trail.

    This is IMO (and ironically) part of what has driven the fundies into demanding such extreme ideological purity; because they know they are, for the most part, being lied to. The only real way they have to tell the liars from the true believers is to watch and see if a candidate ever, at any time, deviates even one bit from the far-right position. If they do, then they’re probably a liar about their support for other far-right positions. In a sense, we have Mike Huckabee today because George Bush implied to creationists he would put it in schools when in office, and he didn’t.

  • D. C. Sessions

    scienceavenger – ‘one fell swoop‘. [see Macbeth Act 4, scene 3].

    A tribute to the Bard doesn’t mean that his phrases can’t be adapted. I, for instance, have seen fowl swoop — which may be where Shakespeare adapted the phrase himself. And be honest: “foul swoop” really is apt.

  • dingojack

    Isn’t this also an ‘unintended consequence’ of non-compulsory voting?

    Since one is not required to vote, only the most fired-up do. This means that pandering to the base creates a near lock on your base voters. Which pushes the parties to seek the votes from the edge, rather than moving toward the middle.

    For the PoG the ability to Gerrymander their own states also removes the incentive to seek compromise too. As does the authoritarian mind-set of those running the party.

    A (near) perfect storm — that’ll (eventually) sink them.

    Dingo

  • scott

    She starts out strong but cracks up pretty quickly. “[…]telling us up front he won’t be bound by court decisions, something not even President Obama has done.” A nice thought, suddenly derailed by Obama Derangement Syndrome.

  • dmcclean

    Right, and you want to bomb them too, just not as a prelude to ground invasion. Got it.

  • abb3w

    @9, MyPetSlug

    The problem is that Ms. Rubin is fighting the symptom and not the disease.

    The bigger problem seems that Ms. Rubin does not seem to realize that she is herself a carrier — albeit far less virulent than many. She apparently recognized that gay marriage was a doomed front by 2012, and seems to have eventually come to terms with Benghazi being a non-scandal, and apparently never fell for the birther nonsense (though her faint rebuttals may well have done more harm than good). However, she seems to be in typical GOP denial about the “war on women” and racial issues, lavishes praise on figures on the right regardless of how much idiocy on any of these topics they show, and appears delusional on her assessments of Israel, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China….

    Nohow, Rubin seems a Jingocon (with limited moneycon sympathies), who seem far more in touch with reality than the theocons or xenocons.

  • Michael Heath

    Larry writes:

    Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. The GOP, however, may already be too far gone for help. The leadership has cynically pushed and encouraged the true nut jobs to ever dizzying heights of insanity in order to get their votes but the insanity, like a nuclear reaction without proper controls, will grow until it takes out everything. The unfortunate side-effect is that its affects both the realists and the nut jobs.

    I see very, very few ‘realists’ in today’s Republican party*. The ignorant, the delusional, and the nihilists are pretty much all that’s left.

    A perfect example of the GOP’s nihilism was their unanimous confirmation of Sarah Palin as their 2008 vice presidential candidate. It’s only got worse since then.

    *One exception is Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. He certainly has his flaws, but he’s largely kept the nuts who run the state legislature at bay. Even when it requires him to publically promise to veto legislation that the Christianist wingnuts salivate to see pass.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    From Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

    fell

    FELL, pret. of fall.

    FELL, a.

    1. Cruel; barbarous; inhuman.

    It seemed fury, discord, madness fell.

    2. Fierce; savage; ravenous; bloody.

    More fell than tigers on the Libyan plain.

  • dingojack

    Nope — it seems Shakespeare invented that particular phrase, not adapted, it.

    cf:

    “I will stir up in England some black storm

    Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell;

    And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage

    Until the golden circuit on my head,

    Like to the glorious sun’s transparent beams,

    Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.”

    Henry VI (part two). Act 3, Scene 1.

    “That they will guard you, whether you will or no,

    From such fell serpents as false Suffolk is,

    With whose envenomed and fatal sting,

    Your loving uncle, twenty times his worth,

    They say, is shamefully bereft of life.”

    Henry VI (part two). Act 3, scene 2.

    “While we devise fell tortures for thy faults.”

    Henry VI (part three). Act 2, scene 6.

    (and a favourite of mine):

    “Fell banning hag, enchantress, hold thy tongue!”

    Henry VI (part one). Act 5, scene 3.

    Amongst about 50 or 60 others.

    😉 Dingo

  • Who Cares

    @colnago80(#2):

    Hersh didn’t exactly go of the deep end. That was the initial reaction by just about everyone who rather wanted to deny the guy found another coverup by the government, exactly the same tactic that was applied to him when he uncovered what happened in Mai Lai.

    The tune has already changed from “He finally went bonkers” to “What’s the big deal anyway” after parts started being corroborated by the New York Times and NBC.

  • grumpyoldfart

    I’m hoping one of those clowns becomes US President. I’d like to see what happens.

  • scienceavenger

    Nohow, Rubin seems a Jingocon (with limited moneycon sympathies), who seem far more in touch with reality than the theocons or xenocons.

    More like a Jindalcon: touting the need to stop being the stupid party, right before unleashing a good helping of stupid.

  • jnorris

    grumpyoldfart: “I’m hoping one of those clowns becomes US President. I’d like to see what happens.”

    That one clown will be appointing federal judges and more than one Supreme Court justice who will sit on the bench for decades.

  • colnago80

    Re Who Cares @ #33

    I would have more confidence in Hersh if there was not evidence of falling off the deep end earlier on. See attached link. I think that Hersh is just jealous of Glenn Greenwald, who beat him to the NSF story and is trying to regain prestige lost to the latter. Money excerpt:

    But more recently, his reports have become less and less credible. He’s claimed that much of the US special forces is controlled by secret members of Opus Dei, that the US military flew Iranian terrorists to Nevada for training, and that the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria was a “false flag” staged by the government of Turkey. Those reports have had little proof and, rather than being borne out by subsequent investigations, have been either unsubstantiated or outright debunked. A close reading of Hersh’s bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate.

    This particular story by Hersh is all too reminiscent of the many conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination. I used to be a devote of many of them until it became clear that if evidence was found that contradicted the assassination buff’s pet hypothesis, their response was always the same, the evidence was faked by the conspirators. For instance, at part of a Congressional investigation of some of the evidence from the Warren commission investigation, 8 forensic pathologists were assembled to examine the autopsy photographs. All 8 determined that both wounds to Kennedy were due to being hit by bullets fired from the rear and that they could not have been fired from the railroad overpass or the grassy knoll. What was the response from the critics? The photographs were fakes or the 8 individuals were bought off!

    http://www.vox.com/2015/5/11/8584473/seymour-hersh-osama-bin-laden