The Nutjob Gambit Running Riot
Heading into the winter of 2009, the nutjobs are stirred up to a fine lather. Obama is hiding his real birthplace, a proposed new government health plan is going to bankrupt the nation and kill off Grandma, and the “mainstream media,” meaning those insidious people who fact-check the things they write, are ignoring these dangers.
To get their nutjob message across, nutjobs across the country have responded to the AM radio and Internet call to disrupt one of the staples of representative government, the town hall meeting. Their tactics are escalating beyond any hope of reining them in. This is unlikely to stop before someone gets hurt.
The trouble with the Nutjob Gambit, apart from the dark ethics, is that it’s tough to disperse the mob. The Bush campaigns deployed the Nutjob Gambit over and over again, with no apparent concern for the morality or the long term costs, until it was hard to tell where the Gambit stopped and the Administration began. The results?
Their tactics have cast a shadow over the party and left the public cynical not only about our policies, but about our core credibility.
Repeatedly doubling down on the use of the Gambit has given new power each time to an increasingly potent pool of nutjobs.
We have now stirred up a nutjob hurricane. The shadow it has cast over the party is the least of our problems. Their irrational disrespect for the democratic process, paranoia over the direction of the country, and extremist rhetoric is threatening order. A Congressman should not need a security detail to hold a town meeting. A President should not have to tolerate childish heckling from a Congressman. We are better than this.
It will not be easy to roll back the damage from the Bushites’ addiction to cheap political tactics. But we must start by acknowledging what we as a party have done and working to bring more integrity to our politics. We must also take a candid look at how nutjob politics came to be such a strategically important element in the Republican gameplan and what we can do to replace it.