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Dan Sweeney Headshot

Embracing the Crazy

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Remember the Bush years? Yeah, yeah. I know -- you'd rather forget. But stay with me here, ace, because this is important. Throughout that post-9/11 Age of Darkness and Despair, a whole segment of the left wing slipped off the deep end and believed that the Bush administration caused 9/11. Hell, you're probably already familiar with the 9/11 Truth movement. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, now enjoying his role as the scourge of Goldman Sachs, made an interesting comparison between the movement and the right-wing's swirly eyed Jesus freaks in his book The Great Derangement.

But Taibbi wrote that screed before the birthers. You're probably also already familiar with these folks -- the people who believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, including birth certificate copies easily available all across the Internet, -- that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia or Mars or the Seventh Ring of Hell.

Now, the closest the 9/11 Truth movement ever got to mainstream media were a few one-sided, easily dismissed documentaries like Loose Change. But the birthers? Hell, they've got their own TV show in Glenn Beck's nightly "news" hour -- despite the man's insistence immediately after the presidential election that he wouldn't entertain speculation about Obama's birth certificate, the subject has come up numerous times on his Web site, radio show and TV show since then. And the crazy doesn't stop with Beck, though it certainly does reach illustrious heights there. No, even more mainstream quasi-journalists have embraced the birther cause. CNN's Lou Dobbs has hopped on the birther bandwagon, and, natch, Rush Limbaugh is all about it.

This is the precise equivalent of people like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow declaring that maybe the 9/11 Truth movement has a point, or that "no one really knows" whether Bush had anything to do with 9/11. And yet, were any of the liberal mainstream media to make such a nutty statement, they'd be rightly excoriated by people from all walks of life, except the tiny group actually in the movement. Still, the declarations of Beck, Dobbs and Limbaugh come and go with only a bit of outrage by the people on the opposite side of the political fence. As always, IOKALAYAR.

But why? Why the warm embrace of the deeply insane? The only possible reason is that the insane has become the base. Teabaggers and birthers are now the mainstream of the Republican Party. It has lost so many moderate voices that this nuttery is all it has left. A couple months ago, back when there was a debate over who was the leader of the Republican Party, I wrote a post here at HuffPo saying that, among the major candidates, the leader was almost assuredly Rush Limbaugh. I was wrong. Like Beck and even Dobbs, Limbaugh is catering to his remaining audience. He works for them, not the other way around.

The scary truth is that this is the face of the Republican Party.

Batten down the hatches, ace. It's going to get a whole lot weirder.