Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
In the wingnut view of the world, there is no accusation too extreme and no problem that can’t be solved with a demand for the president’s resignation. Need new proof? Take a look at this week’s wingnuts – Tom Tancredo and Ted Rall.
The debate over the Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination took an unexpected turn this week, with Republicans on defense after accusations of racism started sounding wingnutty even to some supporters.
Tom Tancredo’s comments were case in point. The creationist former Colorado congressman and self-styled anti-illegal immigrant crusader took to the airwaves and managed to conjure up not one but two howlers in the space of days.
Judge Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza, the country’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization, which counts among its 300 major sponsors companies like Wal-Mart. Even if you disagree with their prescription for immigration reform, it sounds pretty legit, right? Not in the world according to Tom Tancredo, who took an opportunity on CNN to describe the organization as “nothing more than a ... Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.”
KKK comparisons are just short of Nazi comparisons in the hierarchy of out-of-bounds political metaphors. The KKK is the KKK – full stop. Unless there are actual lynchings involved, it’s best to back off.
But maybe Tancredo was just having an off moment, spurred by emotional scars from the immigration debate. He quickly surrendered any benefit of the doubt when he was asked by David Shuster on MSNBC whether he thought “the Obama administration hates white people.” Tancredo couldn’t quite bring himself to sound reasonable even in the face of that logical softball, pausing for thought and then saying “I don’t know.” When incredulously pushed again, Tancredo laid his cards on the table: “I have no idea whether they hate white people or not!”
Really? This would be news to the millions of white people who voted for Obama, let alone the white members of his cabinet and staff – to say nothing of the members of his mother’s family. For all the wingnut hocus pocus during the campaign, (remember the “Obama is the anti-Christ” emails?) the closest to this conspiracy theory was the Pennsylvania McCain volunteer who carved a “B” on her face, claiming she was assaulted by a black Obama supporter. Note to Republicans: Give the obsession with race a rest.
On the left, columnist and talented political cartoonist Ted Rall made something of a milestone for himself this week, by becoming the first figure on the left to call for President Obama’s resignation – because he hasn’t been liberal enough.
"The gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama's inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through…Obama is useless. Worse than that, he's dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now–before he drags us further into the abyss."
The prime area of Rall’s anger at President Obama is his continuity with President Bush on detentions of terrorist suspects. Forget the heat he’s taken for announcing the close to Guantanamo without a plan for what to do with the detainees. And forget the fact that much of Obama’s success in closing the perceived “national security gap” between Democrats and Republicans has been due to his bipartisan national security appointments (most recently tapping New York Republican John McHugh to serve as Secretary of the Army) and centrist policies that have depolarized the debate over Iraq and focused our efforts on stabilizing Afghanistan.
For Rall, the absence of immediate reversal of all Bush national security policies is not just an unforgivable hypocrisy but a sign of something much more sinister: “there is something rotten inside him…Obama has revealed himself. He is a monster, and he should remove himself from power.”
These considered words were offered underneath the subheader, “With Democrats Like Him, Who Needs Dictators?” With dizzy and destructive Democrats like Rall, who needs rabid Republicans?
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.