Perlstein’s essay is a round-up of all the crazy things figures on the Right have said and done over the last 50 years (more really) because - he says - understanding American means realizing that “the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy.” I’m quite willing to concede that people on the Right - both famous and nameless - have exhibited some serious signs of insanity over time. But so have people on the Left. MSNBC is the most glaring example but at least you can argue they’re using lunacy as a selling point. Red meat for their audience and more akin to the WWF than to serious politics. (The same claim is sometimes made for Rush Limbaugh - he’s an entertainer not the voice of conservatism.)
For a far more serious example of total lunacy on the Left try this article posted at Corrente (part of RL’s blogroll) in December of 2007. This is a serious and very interesting examination of Obama’s post-partisan message during the campaign but suddenly we find the lines:
More importantly, we've given some idea, in the short history above, of how powerful, and how entrenched, the Conservative Movement has become in official Washington (the Village).*** If an election is held in 2008, and if an Democrat is elected, and is allowed to take office, and that Democrat is Obama, the Conservative Movement, and its billionaire funders, are not going to change their playbook.
If an election is held? If an elected Democrat is allowed to take office? Really? This bastion of the reality-based seriously doubted we’d elect a new President in 2008 and yet Leftists expect me to believe all the crazies are on the Right? They must be nuts. Worrying that “the Conservative Movement” was going to hijack the election process is a lot more insane - a lot more insane - than senior citizens and the handicapped worrying that cutting costs in Medicare is going to mean they get less care.
Neither side has a monopoly on crazy. The only people who are really crazy are the ones who don’t know that.