Remember when “Fight the smears!” was the Obama campaign’s rallying cry? It’s a lesson Paul Krugman should learn. Krugman writes, “Whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.” The recent murders of an abortion provider and a Holocaust Museum guard supposedly prove his point.
But that kind of logic only holds up if you are wearing a very big set of partisan and ideological blinders. As Robert points out below, Jeremiah Wright is once again trafficking in crude anti-Semitic conspiracies. By Krugman’s standards, this would show that there is no dividing line between Jeremiah Wright and mainstream Democrats like President Obama, a longtime friend and congregant of the anti-Semitic reverend. (Actually, the connection between Obama and Wright is far more direct than the illusionary ties that Krugman identifies between the Holocaust Museum attack and conservative pundits.)
Now, if you want to compare murder to murder, you can compare the Holocaust Museum attack to the fatal shooting of a soldier by a Muslim extremist at a recruiting station in Arkansas. One more murder, and by Krugman’s standards we’d be facing an epidemic of left-wing extremist violence.
So then, I disagree fundamentally with Kathy that the right has a “head in the sand attitude” about extremism. The problem is the smears, not the response.
The mission of TMV is to promote a vigorous, well-informed centrist discussion of politics. Doing so means identifying those who have wandered off from the center to the extremes. It also means being careful about who label as an extremist.