On Sunday Morning’s The Chris Matthews Show, panelist Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution may have coined a phrase that will help to define the 2012 Republican presidential field. Speaking about the unlikelihood of a run by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Tucker said that the rising GOP star would be unwilling to pay the Republican “crazy tax” of pandering to the likes of the “Birthers” (and their Pied Dog-whistlers like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin), and denying science. Ozzy Osborne, we’ve got the DNC on line 1.
Despite the fact that Christie has said, over and over again, that he will not run in 2012, the energy around the NJ Governor has proven irresistible to pundits. The Matthews panel (guest-hosted by Nora O’Donnell) ticks off several great reasons to believe Christie won’t run, before Tucker delivers her gem:
I don’t know if Tucker is the first to use the phrase, but it is whip-smart, elegant, and more bumper sticker-friendly than Whip ’em Out Wednesday. The difference, of course, is that the “crazy tax” exposes things about Republicans that most voters won’t find all that attractive.
Thanks to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), the “birther” issue is, once again, alive and kicking, but even absent Abercrombie’s efforts, there’s an ugly, racially-tinged conspiracy subculture among Obama opponents (beginning with Hillary Clinton) that has continued to strengthen since the President took office. Many who don’t believe the “birther” garbage are a little more open to the idea that he’s a “secret Muslim,” and those who reject both of those “theories” still see resonance in their overall theme that President Obama “just ain’t one of us,” is not a product of the “real America” that Sarah Palin spoke of during the 2008 campaign.
Unfortunately, the rest of America has grown tired of these attacks, which is why Bill O’Reilly became so incensed at David Gregory for daring to ask House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to denounce them. His failure (and the failures of Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, and soon, every other GOP hopeful) to do so makes them look crazy.
O’Reilly, to his credit, strongly dismisses the idea that the President is some kind of Indo-Kenyan Manchurian Secret Muslim, but fails to recognize why it’s a big deal that Republican leaders will not. As Robert Gibbs pointed out, the President himself has demonstrated a willingness to do the same when the shoe was on John McCain‘s foot.
Going into 2012, Republicans are going to have to decide if keeping the “Birthers” and their spiritual brethren happy is worth alienating independents and conservative Democrats who not only want this crazy talk rejected, but who will question the judgment of those who don’t. If team Obama is smart, they’ll also highlight the contrast between the “un-American” rhetoric, and the high marks the President gets for protecting the US from Al Qaeda.
You can believe that the President is an un-American, secret Muslim sleeper, and you’ll look crazy, or you can believe that he’s killing too damn many terrorists, and look idiotic, but if you try to say you believe both…well, time to put the lotion in the basket.
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