How many Republicans do you suppose are looking forward to the possibility of Sarah Palin getting in bed with Carrie Prejean for the 2012 presidential race? None of the likely male Republican candidates can possibly measure up to pairing of Palin and Prejean — they don't have what it takes to satisfy the challenge posed by even one woman, much less two at the same time! Sarah Palin has yet to publicly come out and proclaim her preference for Carrie Prejean, but that won't stop conservative pundits from speculating wildly about the most important political question of our time: who will be on top, Palin or Prejean?
I'm sure most conservatives will expect that Sarah Palin will insist on being on top, and she certainly has the cojones for it. Anyone who can spin such reckless fiction about the 2008 campaign — despite knowing how many people will quickly step up to provide the truth — won't hesitate to take the reins in a new partnership. Carrie Prejean, however, is well known for being able to take care of herself and she doesn't need Palin to reach a summit, political or otherwise.
Patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes have been expressed in an unusually concentrated, open, and unapologetic manner in recent weeks. I don't think it's entirely coincidental that racism and neo-Nazism have also become far more public and unapologetic recently: the separation between "reasonable" conservatism and far-right lunacy is disappearing, with the consequence that the lunacy of the far right is getting more traction, more attention, and more legitimacy.
In the past, the far right could be dismissed politically even as we kept a wary, watchful eye on them. Today, however, the far right has become a more significant political force that has to be dealt with directly. In the long run, we should expect more assaults on basic principles of liberty and equality becoming more mainstream — proposals that were once just found on the fringes will increasingly be treated as "serious" proposals from "serious" conservatives. In the name of bipartisanship, liberals will be expected to find common ground with this extremism for the sake of compromise.
The Obama administration doesn't appear to be any more committed the rule of law or justice than the Bush administration was. In some ways they are arguably worse, since the Bush administration didn't make any effort to hide their commitment to raw power and authoritarian privilege. Every week seems to bring new examples of the Obama administration ignoring or even undermining justice and the rule of law in exchange for expanded, arbitrary power of the executive branch.
This past week has been especially bad, even for the American government, with multiple examples of behavior that we should only characterize oppressive, authoritarian regimes. No government is perfect, of course, but we are seeing a consistent pattern of behavior which cannot be excused as minor missteps. What's more, we are seeing foreign governments living up to the ideals America used to champion while we are left to whine about how upholding principles of justice makes things inconvenient for Americans.
Actions speak louder than words, which means you can tell a lot more about what a person truly values by looking at what they do rather than merely at what they say. We can, though, also learn a lot by looking at a person's contradictions. No one is perfectly consistent, and while some inconsistencies may be due to outright hypocrisy, far more are likely due to blindness — probably a self-defense mechanism to prevent us from truly seeing how our real values may be pulling us in a direction different from what our professed values are.
I think we're seeing this in the contradictions between how people treat America's foreign wars versus how they treat domestic health care. The justifications being offered by conservatives and "moderates" for continuing wars in the Middle East are ignored when it comes to questions about providing domestic health care. So what are the real values which lie behind it all?
One disturbing feature of extremist rhetoric is how it creates such a heated environment that the only way for people to get quickly noticed is to ramp up their own extremism. This creates a vicious feedback loop in which extremism constantly fuels more extremism and extremist rhetoric itself exacerbates people's actual feelings and attitudes. I think this is what we are seeing among Republicans and conservatives today.
I'm pretty sure that they weren't quite so insane a few months ago, though the potential was surely there. Now, though, their own rhetoric is causing them to get worse and worse. The latest examples are of one conservative Republican saying that Barack Obama is an enemy of all humanity and another conservative Republican strongly suggesting that the military launch a coup against Barack Obama. Tell me again, who were the people suggesting not too long ago that even disagreement with the president qualified as treasonous, unpatriotic, and unAmerican?