But when was it different? Rush Limbaugh didn't just magically appear in the last twelve months. He -- along with people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol and Jesse Helms -- have been leaders of that party for decades. Republicans spent the 1990s wallowing in Ken Starr's sex report, "Angry White Male" militias, black U.N. helicopters, Vince Foster's murder, Clinton's Mena drug runway, Monica's
semen-stained dress, Hillary's lesbianism, "wag the dog" theories, and all sorts of efforts to personally humiliate Clinton and destroy the legitimacy of his presidency using the most paranoid, reality-detached, and scurrilous attacks.
I see things differently. Things are worse with the right. It wasn't until the George W. Bush years that the Republican elite coalesced arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and endless war, that establishment figures like Frank Gaffney were calling for the imprisonment of members of Congress, and prominent conservative intellectuals and Harvey Mansfield were calling for military coups or one-man rule. Where Rush Limbaugh used to represent the "right" of the Republican Party without advocating a lot of survivalist, conspiratorial, neo-Nazi junk, the "right" is now best represented by people like Glenn Beck who are eager to see the country descend into chaos. During the Clinton years, mainstream conservatives were looking to George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" as a way for the Republicans to appeal to people who were fed up with Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and the confrontationalism of the Republican Revolutionaries of 1994. Now, mainstream conservatives view the "Revolutionaries" of 1994 as wimps and sell-outs. In 2000, the "radical right" was mostly a collection of single-issue movements like the "Right to Life" movement and the NRA. In 2009, all of those single issue movements seem to have coalesced around the cause of opposing Obama.