Only if ‘mainstream’ has no meaning

ONLY IF ‘MAINSTREAM’ HAS NO MEANING…. The comparisons can be tricky, but for my money, Nevada’s Sharron Angle remains the nuttiest of nutty for 2010. There’s some tough competition, but from top to bottom, no one can match this Senate candidate’s record of abject madness.

Of course, Angle doesn’t quite see it this way.

Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle just might be the Tea Party’s biggest gamble yet. A staunch conservative with a history of making bold and sometimes controversial comments, Angle insists she’s been taken out of context in her campaign to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and told CNN in a rare interview, “I’ll be a mainstream Senator.”

Look, I realize that labels like “mainstream” can be subjective, and very few candidates for statewide office are inclined to run around asking for votes while characterizing themselves as extremists.

But there’s just nothing even remotely “mainstream” about Sharron Angle. Her policy positions — eliminate Social Security and Medicare, eliminate cabinet agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency — are bizarre. Her ideology — talk of an armed insurrection against the U.S. government, condemning the unemployed for being lazy, considering those who disagree her as enemies of the country — is twisted. Her theocratic tendencies — condemning a safety net as being inconsistent with the Ten Commandments — are kind of frightening.

All told, Angle remains the most radical major party nominee to seek statewide office since Louisiana Republicans nominated David Duke in 1991.

She’ll be “a mainstream senator”? Angle wasn’t even a mainstream state senator. Her colleagues considered her a loon; votes of “44 to Angle” were routine since she was even further to the right than literally everyone else in the legislative body; and Las Vegas’ conservative newspaper labeled Angle the worst lawmaker in Nevada — twice.

If she’s “mainstream” in 21st-century America, the word has lost all meaning.

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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.