Watching the loopy hysteria of the American Right about health care, I’ve been wondering sometimes if I’m hallucinating. Surely an intelligent and progressive country like the US can’t be entirely populated by fanatics? But Paul Krugman is seeing the same thing — as this blog post entitled A strange madness suggests.
Joe Klein reports on a town hall meeting where people think that Obama has larded the government with communists. Bizarre — but I’ve been getting equally bizarre claims in much of my mail. And what’s striking is the intensity.
I’ve mentioned before that my hate mail has reached levels I haven’t seen since 2004 or so. But back then, the hate was in a way understandable. People like me were questioning Bush’s bona fides as the great protector against terrorism, were claiming that he deliberately misled the country into an unnecessary war. Those were strong charges, and in a way you could understand that people who idolized Bush (believe it or not, there used to be a lot of them) were upset.
But now I get spitting, incoherent rage over articles on, um, health care economics or macro modeling. What enrages people so much about these pieces? Usually, it’s impossible to tell — in fact, I often have the sense that the enraged correspondents haven’t read the things at all. But that’s OK — they know that I’m corrupt, a liar, a Nazi, and have been spewing my evil in my writings.
The point is that whatever is driving all this doesn’t have anything to do with the realities of what I, or, much more important of course, Obama say or do. Obama could have come in proposing to pursue an agenda identical to Bush, and he would still be a socialist/Commie/fascist, with those of us who don’t see it that way lying Nazis ourselves.
Something is going very wrong in the heads of a substantial number of Americans.