Why do they rage? | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why do they rage?

Posted By on Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 7:44 AM

Guns at presidential events. Angry meetings. Denunciations of government. It's all part of the rising right-wing rage and subject of today's Frank Rich column. It's not about the Second Amendment, he says.

No, the biggest contributor to this resurgence of radicalism remains panic in some precincts about a new era of cultural and demographic change. As the sociologist Daniel Bell put it, “What the right as a whole fears is the erosion of its own social position, the collapse of its power, the increasing incomprehensibility of a world — now overwhelmingly technical and complex — that has changed so drastically within a lifetime.”

That Bell essay was written in 1962, but remains relevant, Rich says. He takes off from U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's irresponsible remark that government, not the nuts, are to blame for threats of violence against the government. In the end, it's about Obama manning up to unhinged opponents.

Should he fail because he in any way catered to a decimated opposition party that has sunk and shrunk to its craziest common denominator, that would be ludicrous.

The G.O.P., whose ranks have now dwindled largely to whites in Dixie and the less-populated West, is not even a paper tiger — it’s a paper muskrat. James Carville is correct when he says that if Republicans actually carried out their filibuster threats on health care, it would be a political bonanza for the Democrats.

In last year’s campaign debates, Obama liked to cite his unlikely Senate friendship with Tom Coburn, of all people, as proof that he could work with his adversaries. If the president insists that enemies like this are his friends — and that the nuts they represent can be placated by reason — he will waste his opportunity to effect real change and have no one to blame but himself.

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