filled up voice mail systems with hate-filled messages. One
spat on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri. Another called
Georgia Congressman John Lewis a “nigger”—Lewis, a 1960s hero
who had his skull fractured for daring to think he should
be able to vote.
They waved a sign that was arguably an illegal call to violence,
saying, “If Brown can’t do it, a Browning can.”
Their goddess, the leering, defiantly ignorant Sarah Palin,
stopped scribbling on her hands long enough to lend her name
to a campaign commercial showing rifle cross-hairs targeting
a number of Democratic congressional districts. Her slogan:
“Don’t retreat, just reload.”
Yes, I know. Why, silly liberals, that’s just symbolic rhetoric.
Naturally, the former governor of Alaska is being defended
by the sort of people who flew into a rage when the former
H. Rap Brown made the sadly true observation that “Violence
is as American as cherry pie.”
Outraged conservatives wanted ol’ Rap, then a prominent civil
rights leader, hanged, drawn and quartered, and deported.
To be fair, Rap, later restyled as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin,
did turn out to be a bad’un. Years later, he killed a black
cop and was sentenced to spend the rest of his days in the
federal supermax pen in Colorado.
He ended up doing both progressives and people of color far
more harm than good. In fact, the radical left signed its
own death warrant in this nation when it turned to violence.
The mad bombers of groups like the Weather Underground were
immensely helpful to politicians like Richard Nixon and Ronald
Reagan, and their calls for “law and order.”
Now, it seems to be the far right’s turn, Democrat Bart Stupak,
a former state trooper who represents Michigan in Congress,
is a devout Roman Catholic, as anti-abortion as they come.
For a long time, he opposed the bill because he was concerned
it didn’t contain enough safeguards against federal funding
He was eventually persuaded to support the bill when President
Obama issued an executive order prohibiting the use of any
federal funds both for abortions and any health care plan
that covers them. But Stupak’s victory did not placate the
haters and the nuts.
Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, a boorish,
gross creature who clearly wanted campaign contributions and
his five minutes of fame, yelled, “Baby killer!” at Stupak
on the floor of the House.
A bewildered Bart got death threats that led to him having
to unplug his home phone line. Eventually, he was even given
protection by his former colleagues on the state police force.
Stupak was far from alone. Bricks were thrown through congressional
office windows. A propane line was cut at the home of a Virginia
congressman’s brother, after “Tea Party” activists posted
his address online and told people to drop by and “express
their thanks” for his vote favoring health care reform.
What we have here are right-wing yahoos acting like ignorant
Nazi street gangs did in Germany in the early 1930s, before
their beloved führer ended democracy. And no, that’s not too
strong a comparison. “How curious that a mob fond of likening
President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that
it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht,”
Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times. Indeed, they
But sadly, too many Americans are ignorant too. The smarter
right-wingers know this—and fear correctly that when the people
do understand what this health reform is, they will overwhelmingly
They failed to stop reform, and their hopes of somehow repealing
it are slipping away. Already, the Big Lie that the people
hate President Obama’s reforms is losing credibility. Last
week, a Gallup poll found that by a margin of 49 percent to
40 percent, people were happy the bill had been passed.
That will go up when people learn the truth.
Health care reform is here to stay, all right. Now we just
need to make sure that the good guys are too. For there is
a difference between today and the 1960s: Mainstream liberal
Democrats did not egg on the violent left.
But we have Michael Steele, Republican National Committee
chairman, saying “Let’s get Nancy [Pelosi] ready for the firing
line this weekend.” House Minority Leader John Boehner, an
odd creature with a cigarette voice and a fake tan, talked
And, of course, there’s Palin. She was off last week campaigning
for Arizona Republican John McCain. Once a man of integrity,
he has been reduced to hoping the caribou-killing nitwit he
elevated out of nowhere can help him stave off a right-wing
Senate primary challenge.
Yet worse lurk in the weeds. There are lots of unhappy people
out there, playing solitaire with less than a full deck. Just
follow the headlines on the Hutaree militia. The GOP ought
to consider what harm might come from the dogs it unleashes.
So who will the Republicans nominate for president in 2012?
If you know history, there is little doubt: The nominee will
be Mitt Romney.
How do I know? Partly, from a lifetime of watching how Republicans
work. They almost always give the nod to the guy who finished
second the last time. Consider: Ronald Reagan lost the 1976
nomination; he got it in 1980.George H. W. Bush came in second
in 1980; he got the nomination in 1988. Bob Dole lost to Bush
in 1988; he ran in ‘96. John McCain lost to Bush the lesser
in 2000; he got the prize in 2008 . . . after beating out
Plus, Mittster has a few other things going; he is handsome
and rich, which always helps, and will look moderate, reasonable
and statesman-like, compared to clowns like Palin and Mike
Huckabee and dullards like Tim Pawlenty.
Besides, he was the author of a health care reform in Massachusetts
that is very much like President Obama’s. Two years from now,
people will realize that they like that their kids can stay
on their health insurance through college. They will like
even better that they can’t have their health insurance canceled
because they have cancer. By 2012, the GOP will be talking
about “improving” health care reform.
Still, I could be wrong, and the Republicans might in the
end nominate some far-out Tea Party darling. If that happens,
look for Obama to win a historic electoral vote landslide.
Lessenberry writes for Metro Times, where this article
was first published.