Madness isn’t enough

MADNESS ISN’T ENOUGH…. On Thursday, Mike Huckabee offered the CPAC faithful the kind of rhetoric they want to hear.

“The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead,” said Huckabee, “but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born.” Democrats, according to Huckabee, were packing 40 years of pet projects like “health care rationing” into spending bills. “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

The estimable Mark Kleiman, noting the bizarre remarks, said Huckabee may be “self-destructing” as a credible national figure.

Yes, yes, the CPAC crowd is the extreme of the extreme. But in the YouTube era you can’t go around mouthing this stuff and be taken seriously as a candidate for President.

I’d really love to believe that, but I don’t.

A prominent conservative Republican gives a public speech in front of a large audience. He compares the Obama administration to the USSR, lies about a few policy issues, throws around the word “socialist” a bunch of times, and then throws in a reference to Lenin and Stalin. This, by any sensible measure, is absurd. It’s reasonable to think candidates for national office can’t get away with such pathetic nonsense.

Indeed, I suspect that if a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush’s agenda as “fascism,” comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler, that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward. Presidential ambitions would be largely out of the question.

But I find it very hard to believe Huckabee’s future has been imperiled by simply saying crazy things. That’s just not how modern conservative politics works. In Republican circles, there’s no such thing as excessive rhetoric.

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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.