THE PRACTICAL RATIONALE FOR CIVILITY…. National Review‘s Ramesh Ponnuru suggests Republicans consider “tone and strategy” in the context of the debate over health care reform. (via Kevin Drum)

If you were a Democratic leader who wanted to lay the groundwork to cut Republicans and moderate Democrats out of the legislative process, wouldn’t you be portraying the critics of your health-care legislation as unreasonable racist nuts right about now? In September you could say that you really wanted to work with Republicans but unfortunately they are all being intimidated out of working for the common good by their crazy base. All the more reason for Republicans to do what they should be doing anyway: to make the case against the legislation in as measured, civil, and sensible a way as we can.

I can only assume Ponnuru will be promptly fired by the National Review‘s editors and publishers.

On a more serious note, Ponnuru’s observation is quite sound and his recommended strategy is entirely sensible. If we had a reasoned national debate — in a “measured, civil, and sensible” way — Americans might fully appreciate the scope of the problem and how best to address it. The resulting policy would almost certainly be improved by a mature political process.

The downside, at least from the perspective of the National Review, is that the left would likely win that debate, and reform would pass fairly easily. So, instead, we’re left with the far-right acting in such a way as to make it easy to label them “unreasonable racist nuts.”

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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.