[Don’t call it a comeback.]
A funny thing happened just a few weeks into the Obama administration–conservatives seem to have gone a bit off their rockers, so to speak.
For instance, the Department of Homeland Security finished a report analyzing the growth of–and threat from–“rightwing extremism” within the United States. You think that examining various political movements to determining whether or not they’ve become radicalized and pose a threat to the United States would be a good use of DHS’ time; I seem to remember a radical political movement killing quite a large number of Americans just a few years ago.
Unsurprisingly, though, conservatives went apoplectic over the report–apparently they decided that “rightwing extremist” referred to them and concluded that this was part of a grand conspiracy by the Obama administration to silence them.
As usual, our conservative friends aren’t exactly in touch with reality. Reports like this aren’t unprecedented–they’re not even uncommon. In fact, DHS they released a similar report on “leftwing extremism” back in January, and that report was commissioned by President Bush back when he was in office. Oh, and Bush’s FBI investigated left-wing groups that were “active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief” back in 2005. And Bush’s Department of Energy released a report in 2001 called “Left-Wing Extremism: The Current Threat.”
Yes, sometimes the government investigates domestic political movements for signs of violence, radicalism and extremism. In fact, that’s part of the reason DHS was created in the first place–to protect America from threats within her borders. And, honestly, if you read a government report about political radicalism and extremism and see yourself in it, the problem isn’t the government–it’s you.
Just remember, DHS was created by a Republican administration with the consent of a Republican-controlled Congress; the power they wield stems directly from Republican governance. As Glenn Greenwald said,”When you cheer on a Surveillance State, you have no grounds to complain when it turns its eyes on you.”
UPDATE: Oh goody:
House Republicans are calling on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to step down or be fired in the wake of a controversial department memo that has sparked indignant battle cries from conservatives and some veterans.
“Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela,” said Texas Rep. John Carter, a member of the party’s elected leadership who has organized an hour of floor speeches Wednesday night to call for Napolitano’s ouster. “The first step in the process is creating unfounded public suspicion of political opponents, followed by arresting and jailing any who continue speaking against the regime.”
This is becoming comical–it seems like every day conservatives find some new reason to crank the outrage up to 11 and break off the knob.
Yes, we get it–you’re unhappy you lost the election and that there’s a Democrat in the White House. But hell, this is already a dog-bites-man story: “CONSERVATIVES DISLIKE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT AND HIS POLICIES.” How long until everyone just starts tuning the constant poutrage out?
UPDATE II: Look at me, I’m a prophet–I wrote this in August of 2007:
In college, my favorite professor was a conservative, a fourteen-year veteran of the Air Force and a big George W. Bush supporter; he taught my favorite course in college, which was on military force and foreign policy.
Despite the fact that he was a pro-Bush conservative, he was extremely wary of all the new powers being given to–and taken by–the President. This puzzled some of the more conservative students in the class, who asked him why he felt that way.
His response? You could trust George W. Bush with extraordinary amounts of power–he certainly did–but that didn’t matter. What mattered was, will you be able to trust the next President, and the President after that, with the same powers? Because once you give more power to the executive branch, it’s notoriously hard to take away–you’ve set a precedent.
And he was absolutely right. I don’t think many conservatives understand exactly what they’re doing—they’re not giving power to George W. Bush, they’re giving power to the Presidency itself. So if we wake up on January 20th, 2009 to see the inauguration of President Hillary Clinton, she will have access to all the power, all the privilege, all the authority that George W. Bush has right now.
So, Republicans, next time you try to prop up your failing Presidency by throwing in a little more Executive power, ask yourself this question—would I trust Hillary with this? Or Barack? Or John Edwards?
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.