Coalition of the wild-eyed

COALITION OF THE WILD-EYED…. In the latest example of Republican rage, a woman screamed “traitor!” in reference to Barack Obama, during one of John McCain’s tirades about his Democratic opponent. McCain looked in the woman’s direction, said nothing, and continued on with his speech. It came a half-day after another Republican yelled “bomb Obama!” during a debate for Senate candidates in Georgia, and it’s obviously part of a pattern.

Watching the hate, fear, and ignorance play out once again today, it occurred to me that Karl Rove and the Bush-Cheney campaign used Democratic anger to their advantage four years ago.

This ad, for example, was titled, “Kerry’s Coalition of the Wild-Eyed.” It lies and accuses Al Gore and George Soros of comparing Bush to Hitler — it also falsely attributes an ad to MoveOn.org — but putting the slander aside, the ad featured aggressive criticism of the president and the Bush White House. The viewer was told these were the “faces of John Kerry’s Democratic Party.” It concluded, “This is not a time for pessimism and rage.”

There was also this spot, called, “Angry Democrats,” featuring denunciations of Bush from Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, et al. It asks the viewer, “Tired of pessimism and angry protest? Tired of negative attacks? You have a choice.”

That, of course, was four years ago, when Democratic criticism of Bush-Cheney was substantive, and by comparison to 2008, high minded. Now we have Republican candidates for national office standing by and saying nothing even as their supporters call for violence against the Democratic nominee.

Under the circumstances, those Bush spots from four years ago warning against “pessimism and rage,” and denouncing the “wild-eyed” Democrats, seem rather amusing in hindsight.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.