Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and nobody’s idea of a liberal, writes about how extremism has gone mainstream in Republican Party politics.

Yes, I know. You knew all about the Tea Party takeover of the country club. Ornstein elaborates:


What began as a ruthlessly pragmatic, take-no-prisoners parliamentary style opposition to Obama was linked to constant efforts to delegitimize his presidency, first by saying he was not born in the U.S., then by calling him a tyrant trying to turn the country into a Socialist or Communist paradise. These efforts were not condemned vigorously by party leaders in and out of office, but were instead deflected or encouraged, helping to create a monster: a large, vigorous radical movement that now has large numbers of adherents and true believers in office and in state party leadership. This movement has contempt for establishment Republican leaders and the money to go along with its beliefs. Local and national talk radio, blogs, and other social media take their messages and reinforce them for more and more Americans who get their information from these sources. One result is that even today, a Rasmussen survey shows that 23 percent of Americans still believe Obama is not an American, while an additional 17 percent are not sure. Forty percent of Americans! This is no longer a fringe view.

Ornstein offers some specifics to buttress his view. Come on down, Jason Rapert!

As for the radicals in elected office or in control of party organs, consider a small sampling of comments:

“Sex that doesn’t produce people is deviate.” —Montana state Rep. Dave Hagstrom.

“It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education.” —Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Reynolds.

“I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not going to save us. We’re going to take this country back for the Lord. We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!” —Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert, at a tea-party rally. [See above.]

Judging by campaign rhetoric, radical anti-Obama extremism is now official Arkansas Republican theology from candidates for U.S. Senate and governor through the legislature and down to the Quorum Court.


PS — Rapert has said his reference to minorities was not a racial reference. The full video of his appearance may absolve him of directly racial remarks (“Stars and Bars reference not withstanding), but it won’t free him of the extremism taint.