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Republicans under a spell

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By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate from lil' ol' Delaware, confesses to have once "dabbled into witchcraft" -- a fittingly ungrammatical revelation that not only was to be expected but explains what has happened to the Republican Party. Someone -- possibly you know who -- has cast a spell on it, and now it has a candidate whose main contribution to political thought or, indeed, the plight of the poor is to have railed against masturbation, which she likened to adultery. Only a spell can explain such thinking.

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Only a spell also can explain how Newt Gingrich, possibly a presidential candidate, can attribute the politics of Barack Obama to "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior." Obama allegedly picked up this behavior from his father, whom he knew only fleetingly, which is to say almost not at all, and who has long been dead. This, as Gingrich and others under the spell can tell you, is proof of the demonic power that can come out of the grave, enter the White House (look, the gate-crashing Salahis did it) and pervade the very body and mind of the commander in chief. It's enough to give you the willies.

Similarly, only a spell can explain why much of the Republican Party insists on calling Obama a socialist. To apply this label to the very man who saved Big Finance, who rescued Goldman Sachs and the rest of the boys, who gave a Heimlich to the barely breathing banks, can only be explained by witchcraft or voodoo or something like that. It has caused the GOP to lose its mind. Obama did something similar to the American auto industry, saving it from itself. He did not let it fail or nationalize it, as a socialist would have done, but pumped cash into it so that -- this is me speaking -- it can fail later on.

The unseen effects of witchcraft are clearly the reason about one-fifth of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. In fact, as time goes by, more and more people subscribe to this belief -- a phenomenon so at odds with logic or rational thinking that the explanation has to lie in the darkest of arts -- witchcraft and voodoo. (The GOP does the voodoo that you do so well.) Many other Americans think Obama was not born in the United States but abroad, in Indonesia or Kenya or even Hawaii, which unknown to a lot of people is an American state. (It's Alaska that's a foreign country.) The new GOP Senate candidate and Tea Party favorite in Alaska, Joe Miller, answers almost any question by referring to the Constitution. Nothing in it about Social Security, he observed. It also permitted slavery, he fails to observe.

This fatuous infatuation with the Constitution, particularly the 10th Amendment, is clearly the work of witches, wiccans and wackos. It has nothing to do with America's real problems and, if taken too seriously, would cause an economic and political calamity. The Constitution is a wonderful document, quite miraculous actually, but only because it has been wisely adapted to changing times. To adhere to the very word of its every clause hardly is respectful to the Founding Fathers. They were revolutionaries who embraced change. That's how we got here.

To hear Republican conservatives at the recent Values Voter Summit was to hear speaker after speaker talk about things that could not be seen and did not exist. One is the so-called homosexual agenda, which has made a political movement out of sexual orientation. This agenda, whatever it may be, must be a mystery to gay conservatives, of which there are several.

O'Donnell is where the GOP has been heading for some time. The party's leaders have steadfastly refused to take a stand against any idiocy, even suggesting they agree that Obama might not be a Christian. Their intellectuals have supported and advanced the know-nothingness of Sarah Palin. Nothing to them is beyond the pale. This party is not fit to govern. It would support the Joker but not Batman, who hangs too much with Robin.

So now it has a candidate in Delaware who truly is a career politician. She seems to have no means of support except campaign funds. She supposedly lives in her headquarters, although this is somewhat in dispute. Whatever the case, she has no job and no views worth a moment's consideration. (She even appalls Karl Rove.) She's not likely to win, but the way things are going this year, she just might. People are angry. People are mad. The night is dark.

Witch way out of here?

cohenr@washpost.com


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