I saw a segment on MSNBC today in which the host could not believe Ron Paul was unimpressed with Obama’s extraordinary magnanimity in electing to consult Congress before bombing Syria. Obama’s move was “unprecedented,” the host inanely claimed. Not unprecedented at all. George H.W. Bush took exactly the same line in 1991: I’ll consult Congress to shut you peons up, but I don’t need to, and can still do whatever I want. John Kerry holds that precise view, and can’t give a simple answer to the question of what the President will do if Congress votes no.
Yet this deeply impresses an MSNBC host. What great progressives these are!
When Dr. Paul was on the screen, they had at the bottom the words “Father of the Fringe?” This is typical, of course. MSNBC might make occasional fun of, say, John McCain, but he is much too close to them politically for them to call his views “fringe,” even though he sings about bombing people and wouldn’t rule out staying in Iraq for 100 years. That’s mainstream and respectable, you understand. Fringe is when, instead of consistently supporting war, as McCain does, you consistently support peace, and refuse to believe White House propaganda that the rest of the world is laughing at. That’s fringe, man.
I can’t improve on Glenn Greenwald’s beautiful takedown of people who throw “fringe” and “crazy” at people who think maybe — maybe! — all possible views one might wish to hold are not contained within the spectrum that runs all five inches from Mitt Romney to Joe Biden:
In 2003, the crank lunatic-monster Ron Paul vehemently opposed the invasion of Iraq, while countless sane, normal, upstanding, good-hearted Democrats — including the current Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Senate Majority Leader, House Majority Leader, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and many of the progressive pundits who love to scorn Ron Paul as insane — supported the monstrous attack on that country.
In 2008, the sicko Ron Paul opposed the legalization of Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program and the granting of retroactive immunity to lawbreaking telecoms, while the Democratic Congress — led by the current U.S. President, his Chief of Staff, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Majority Leader — overwhelmingly voted it into law. Paul, who apparently belongs in a mental hospital, vehemently condemned America’s use of torture from the start, while many leading Democrats were silent (or even supportive), and mainstream, sane Progressive Newsweek and MSNBC pundit Jonathan Alter was explicitly calling for its use. Compare Paul’s February, 2010 emphatic condemnation of America’s denial of habeas corpus, lawless detentions and presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens to what the current U.S. Government is doing.
The crazed monster Ron Paul also opposes the war in Afghanistan, while the Democratic Congress continues to fund it and even to reject timetables for withdrawal. Paul is an outspoken opponent of the nation’s insane, devastating and oppressive “drug war” — that imprisons hundreds of thousands of Americans with a vastly disparate racial impact and continuously incinerates both billions of dollars and an array of basic liberties — while virtually no Democrat dares speak against it. Paul crusades against limitless corporate control of government and extreme Federal Reserve secrecy, while the current administration works to preserve it. He was warning of the collapsing dollar and housing bubble at a time when our Nation’s Bipartisan Cast of Geniuses were oblivious. In sum, behold the embodiment of clinical, certifiable insanity: anti-DADT, anti-Iraq-war, anti-illegal-domestic-surveillance, anti-drug-war, anti-secrecy, anti-corporatism, anti-telecom-immunity, anti-war-in-Afghanistan….
This behavior is partially driven by the adolescent/high-school version of authoritarianism (anyone who deviates from the popular cliques — standard Democrats and Republicans — is a fringe loser who must be castigated by all those who wish to be perceived as normal), and is partially driven by the desire to preserve the power of the two political parties to monopolize all political debates and define the exclusive venues for Sanity and Mainstream Acceptability. But regardless of what drives this behavior, it’s irrational and nonsensical in the extreme.
Conor Friedersdorf had similar things to say:
Forced to name the “craziest” policy favored by American politicians, I’d say the multibillion-dollar war on drugs, which no one thinks is winnable. Asked about the most “extreme,” I’d cite the invasion of Iraq, a war of choice that has cost many billions of dollars and countless innocent lives. The “kookiest” policy is arguably farm subsidies for corn, sugar, and tobacco — products that people ought to consume less, not more….
These disparaging descriptors are never applied to America’s policy establishment, even when it is proved ruinously wrong, whereas politicians who don’t fit the mainstream Democratic or Republican mode, such as libertarians, are mocked almost reflexively in these terms, if they are covered at all.