Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dick Meyer: Maybe the ‘crazies’ in the House GOP really are crazy

By Dick Meyer, Scripps
Posted: Oct. 03, 2015

Michael Needham is delighted to see John Boehner's back.

Needham is the CEO of Heritage Action for America, the political operations wing of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative Washington think tank.

The Sunday after Speaker Boehner zippity-doo-dah'ed his way out of town, Needham went on Fox News to gloat. He didn't appreciate that Boehner and his ilk called the party's far-right flank a bunch of "crazies." Needham thinks the tea party gang is the party's "base."

"Nancy Pelosi does not talk about her base that way," Needham said. "Barack Obama doesn't think about his base that way."

What a great point! Needham is absolutely right.

John McCain calls the tea party crowd in Congress "wacko birds." Republicans have referred to them as "wing nuts" for years. Boehner called wing-nut poster boy Ted Cruz a "jackass."

Democrats don't call their comrades on the "loony left" names — anymore.

There is, though, another perspective.

Maybe we should take more seriously the claim that the wing nuts really are a bunch of crazies, just like the GOP establishment, sometimes, says they are. Maybe Boehner's fatal error wasn't that he called them mean names, but that he tried to co-opt and negotiate with them. By definition, you really can't deal rationally with crazies.

Depending on how you define your terms, you can make a solid case that, en masse, the tea party wing is politically crazy. Crazy has meanings other than insane. The word came into English from the root "craze," an import from old German that meant "full of cracks or flaws," which actually remains the first definition of "crazy" listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Crazy as insane came later.

So what would constitute being politically crazy — "full of cracks or flaws," not mentally ill? Here's a simple formula: believing and promoting things that are demonstrably false (or the reverse, denying things that are demonstrably true).

(More here.)

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