Never hand Tancredo a microphone

NEVER HAND TANCREDO A MICROPHONE…. In Colorado, Senate candidate Ken Buck (R) has proven to be one of the year’s more extreme politicians, vying for inclusion in the Sharron Angle/Rand Paul radical contingent. It certainly wasn’t surprising, then, that former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has endorsed Buck, and appeared at a rally with the candidate yesterday.

What was slightly more jarring, however, was what Tancredo had to say to the (fairly small) crowd.

The former congressman highlighted many of the threats the nation has faced: the Cold War, the Civil War, the attacks of 9/11, etc. But then Tancredo identified what he considers the biggest threat of them all.

“I firmly believe this — it’s not just, you know, sort of a dramatic statement that a person would make to get press or something, or ink,” he said. “I believe this with all my heart. The greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country that was put together by the founding fathers is the guy that is in the White House today.”

For the record, I don’t doubt Tancredo’s sincerity. He wants us to believe he genuinely believes this, and I’m entirely convinced that he does. Of course, the problem isn’t with earnestness, it’s with his sanity.

Buck later talked to reporters and said he was “surprised when Tom said that,” adding that Tancredo “tends to exaggerate sometimes.”

But why should Buck be surprised? Isn’t his campaign, and others like it, predicated on exploiting exactly this kind of hysterical extremism? Isn’t that why Buck invited Tancredo to campaign at his side in the first place?

If the issue here were merely Tancredo’s penchant for exaggeration, it’d be easier to dismiss. The more important larger point is the truly dangerous phenomenon — candidates pandering to the unhinged right, stoking the flames of blind rage and ignorance.