09/27/2011 03:17 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2011

Ghallery of Ghouls

Vampire movies and television programmes may be all the rage right now, but not one of them has anything on a good old-fashioned audience of Republican debate watchers.

In a rather shocking -- yet sadly, not surprising -- display of the bloodlust and viciousness usually reserved for members of law enforcement pulling over a driving-while-soused Mel Gibson, the so-called "party of life" has seen its most ardent adherents at the past few GOP debates belching out blood-curdling cheers in favor of untimely death and boos for soldiers serving-while-gay. All of which tells you a little something about who these theoretical human beings are, and what they stand for -- and it has does not have much to do with traditional small government conservatism.

In a recent debate on MSNBC, as it was being pointed out that Rick Perry rivals Kublai Khan in his propensity for stopping people's ability to breathe, Perry was roundly cheered by the crowd for his record-breaking string of executions in Texas. Debate attendees yelped like it was a home run in the World Series or a successful moon mission, a sickening display whether one supports the death penalty or not (which I do in limited circumstances).

Much like wolves hovering over a slab of meat or performance art directed by the Marquis de Sade, the activist Tea Party Republican base seemed to delight in the suffering of others. They were Teddy Roosevelt ... if he were buried in a pet cemetery for the past 90 years.

But even that was nothing like what happened during the Tea Party/CNN debate the evening of September 12, when the topic of discussion was who would pay to keep a 30-year-old alive who lacked health insurance and had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. As Congressman Ron Paul was busy equating the death of this hypothetical easy rider with the "freedom" enjoyed by Americans, the crowd began to lustily cheer and yell "yeah" to the question of whether this accident victim should be allowed to die.

Think about that for a second. Weren't these the guys and gals who blew a gasket over the prospect of allowing the severely brain-damaged Terry Schiavo to rest in peace a few years back, and attacked her husband as some sort of ghoul for wanting his wife to die with dignity? Yet, somehow these days, bringing a little more Torquemada to their decision-making regarding who lives and who dies, seems to hae become the new-new-conservatism.

It is a conservatism of ... how shall we put it ... death panels!


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