FUNNY THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU CREATE A MONSTER…. As a rule, Republican leaders are delighted to see angry right-wing activists mobilizing in opposition to health care reform. Top GOP officials haven’t been joining the angry mob-like protests, but they have been egging their base on, and looking the other way when conservatives go too far (death threats, swastikas, nooses, etc.).
As pleased as the party is to have the mobilizing right-wing support, there is an unexpected dilemma for Republicans: an enraged monster can be unpredictable, and can even turn in unhelpful directions.
Conservatives are calling it their August Revolt — a surprising upsurge of activism against President Obama’s proposed healthcare overhaul.
Spurred on by the success of their efforts to dominate the news at Democratic town hall meetings, conservative groups are reporting increases in membership lists and are joining forces to plan at least one mass demonstration in Washington next month.
But the conservative mobilization has also created an unusual dilemma for Republican leaders, who want to turn the enthusiasm into election victories next year but find themselves the target of ire from many of the same activists.
It seems some far-right lawmakers aren’t far-right enough for the mob. Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas was booed by the Tea Baggers. Rep. Bob Inglis (R) of South Carolina was shouted down for mild criticism of Glenn Beck. Rep. John Sullivan (R) of Oklahoma was chastised by his constituents this week for not working harder to investigate the president’s place of birth.
Inglis, who is by no reasonable measure a moderate, noted that “hostility went straight through to hysteria” at town-hall meetings. Noting that the activists are driven by bogus arguments that are obviously wrong, Inglis added, “You cannot build a movement on something that is not credible.”
Well, they can try. Inglis now faces a primary challenger from the even-further-right-wing contingent of the GOP.