This week in crazy? We have Darrell Issa endorsing a completely nutso theory that Fast and Furious was all a plot to rally people around gun control (painfully, tragically, disproven: any party eager to find an excuse to push gun control would have used the attempted murder of Gabrielle Giffords). And then Jon Kyl today raised impeachment as a remedy to Barack Obama’s new plans for enforcing immigration policy.
It really is worth emphasizing that this kind of thing did not happen on a regular basis when George W. Bush was president. The ideas were out there — fringe cranks on the left regularly trotted out bizarre theories about September 11 and shadowy Saudi influence, or whatever. But it stopped there, and it stopped there because responsible Democratic leaders refused to sanction it. The key story that shows the difference? Conspiracy-spouting former Member of the House Cynthia McKinney was basically bounced from the Democratic Party, and she was only a back-bencher to begin with.
By contrast, Issa is a committee chair; Kyl is the Republican Whip in the Senate. You can be sure that there will be no pressure to remove them from these positions for embracing the crazy; quite the contrary.
After all, they’re relatively moderate, compared to Alan West, who claims that there are dozens of Communists in the House Democratic Caucus. And why shouldn’t he? Michele Bachmann turned a TV appearance in which she said that Democratic Members should be investigated for disloyalty into a national profile and a presidential campaign. Politicians are quick to see what's rewarded and what's not, and it's pretty clear what's rewarded in the GOP.
Of course Jon Kyl brought up impeachment over a minor policy difference. You don’t have to believe in the crazy to be a Republican leader these days, but you do have to at least gesture to it.