A SHIFTING DEFINITION OF ‘MAINSTREAM’…. Rush Limbaugh told his audience today, “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate.” Around the same time, Glenn Beck tried to link health care reform to Nazis. It was, in other words, a rather typical day for talk radio.

Atrios raises a good point about this that often goes overlooked.

I’m so old I can remember when some random person on the internets made a Nazi comparison in an open video contest and there was a full congressional/media hissy fit.

I guess rules have changed.

Or, actually, the rules are the same. IOKIYAR….

Atrios is referring to a contest MoveOn.org held five years ago. It was a clever idea — people were invited to put together their own television ad for the presidential campaign, and anyone could just post their idea to the group’s site. Some unknown person put together an ad comparing Bush to Hitler, and put it on the MoveOn.org site without the group’s knowledge. MoveOn pulled the submission, but not before conservatives shouted, “See? MoveOn.org is so extreme, it compares Bush and Hitler.”

Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, at the time called the anonymously submitted video “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.”

Traditional news outlets ran with this, charactering MoveOn as being extremists, and Democratic officials/candidates were pressured to distance themselves from the group. Some Dems did just that.

These days, everyone from Republican senators to talk-radio hosts to conservative writers make the comparison with such frequency, it hardly registers as interesting anymore. Whereas the fake ad MoveOn had nothing to do with was considered scandalous, prominent Republican voices compare Obama to Hilter/Nazis with a routine casualness. It’s just one of the standard conservative talking points, and no effort is made to keep Republican officeholders away from the extremists who use the line regularly.

No one thinks Limbaugh, Beck, and their ilk are engaging in “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech,” because we’ve all just become accustomed to their irresponsible rhetoric.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.