When political gibberish makes its way to the op-ed page

WHEN POLITICAL GIBBERISH MAKES ITS WAY TO THE OP-ED PAGE…. Rick Barber (R), a delusional congressional candidate in Alabama, has made quite a name for himself recently.

Barber first came to national prominence with the release of a bizarre video in which the agitated conservative had an imaginary “conversation” with some Founding Fathers, suggested that the president should be impeached, and came pretty close to calling for a violent uprising against the United States government. Two weeks ago, he released a sequel — a “conversation” with Abraham Lincoln that equated American tax policies with “slavery” and showed viewers images of Nazi concentration camps.

Today, Barber has an op-ed in the Washington Post, defending the “politics of fear,” and rationalizing his hatred for America’s leadership.

Over the past 18 months, the federal government has sought to seize or has seized control of the health-care industry, the financial industry, the mortgage industry, the automobile industry, student loans, broadband Internet and the energy sector through cap-and-trade legislation.

If this were true, it might help shed some light on why right-wing activists like Barber are so hysterical. But here’s the thing: these complaints are gibberish. His indictment of the government is based on observations with no foundation in reality.

The federal government hasn’t “seized control” of the health care industry — it approved modest reforms of a dysfunctional system, the kind of reforms many Republicans supported up until very recently, while leaving private control intact. The federal government didn’t “seize control” of the financial industry — the Bush administration bailed out the industry to prevent an economic collapse, and Democrats approved some new safeguards to protect consumers, but left private enterprise in private hands.

And on and on. The mortgage industry has not been nationalized. The automobile industry was rescued, is paying the taxpayers back, and will return to private control. The government was subsidizing student loans anyway, we just ended needless and expensive taxpayer-financed giveaways to banks. The Internet and the energy sector are no closer to government ownership than they were before.

In other words, given a high-profile platform, Rick Barber’s case against the Obama administration and congressional Democrats is patently ridiculous for anyone who takes reality seriously. These aren’t subjective questions, judgment calls, or matters of opinion — the observations he states as fact are demonstrably false.

Which leads to the obvious questions: why on earth is the Washington Post publishing an op-ed with claims the editors surely know to be wrong? How does it inform the newspaper’s readers to present them with delusional assertions with no basis in fact?

Barber’s hysterical op-ed reads like a confused screed on an obscure right-wing blog. It warns of Obama bringing “totalitarianism,” makes obligatory references to Saul Alinsky, suggests that Americans may yet become “slaves” to their government, and warns that we may well be on “the road to serfdom.”

This is deranged garbage; nothing more. Why it’s on the Washington Post‘s op-ed page is a mystery.