A ‘clear and present danger’

A ‘CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER’…. It was tough to keep up with all of the over-the-top Republican rhetoric this week, but Rachel Slajda does a nice job highlighting some of the “most incendiary” remarks of the past several days. In particular, she flagged a written statement from Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, which I hadn’t seen:

“Today Americans are reacquainted with the danger of an arrogant all powerful government, a deadly enemy within, a clear and present danger in Washington.

“In spite of nationwide opposition socialized medicine is being forced down our throats. That medicine is toxic to freedom. But freedom dies hard in America.

“I do not believe that the majority of Americans will submit passively to the gold chains of socialism.”

Now, regular readers may recall that Akin is known for occasionally making deranged remarks in public. But if anyone’s wondering why some right-wing extremists might feel compelled to consider violence, it may have something to do with the extraordinarily stupid and irresponsible rhetoric coming from the likes of Todd Akin.

He did, after all, put in writing his belief that leaders of the United States government can be characterized as an “enemy.”

I’m especially interested in that “clear and present danger” phrase. Lawyers and/or historians are welcome to weigh in here, but as I recall, that’s a legal standard used to allow the government to restrict Americans’ speech.

Does Todd Akin believe those he disagrees with should be silenced?

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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.