IMAGINING IF MILLER WERE A DEMOCRAT…. We talked earlier about Senate candidate Joe Miller’s (R) private security team detaining a journalist after he asked the candidate an uncomfortable question at a public event on public property. Noting the story, Adam Serwer mentioned this morning:

Imagine if Dem “bodyguards” had handcuffed a journalist. You’d need a new planet to fit all the Nazi references.

I realize the “imagine if a Dem had done this” line of argument gets tiresome, but in a case like this, I think it’s worth asking anyway.

In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama mentioned the idea of having a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure. A Republican member of Congress, Georgia’s Paul Broun, said the idea, which had been endorsed by the Bush administration, is the equivalent of “what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.” Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) still talk about this to make the case that the president is some kind of fascist.

The hysterical right-wing line was, of course, insane. But yet, yesterday, a major-party candidate, who refuses to answer questions about his professional background, was asked by a reporter about allegations of professional misconduct. For his trouble, the reporter was put in handcuffs by a private security team, which also tried to restrict the freedom of the press — on public property, at a public event — for other journalists in attendance.

If state Senator Obama, in 2004, had done something similar, it would be used forevermore as evidence of “liberal fascism,” wouldn’t it?

In this case, it’s not even clear why Miller would hire a private security team in the first place. Most candidates travel with a driver/scheduler, and maybe another aide or two to help talk to voters, answer a cell phone, etc. Miller, campaigning in a small-population state with a low crime rate, travels to a middle school with three members of a private security force, all wearing radio earphones, and at least one of whom carries a set of steel handcuffs.

Worse, this trio, with members who won’t share their names, feels empowered to detain reporters against their will, and threaten to “arrest” other journalists trying to do their constitutionally-protected jobs.

If a Democrat had done this, I suspect it would not only be the biggest political story in the country, there’d be an expectation that Dems everywhere would denounce these “thuggish, Gestapo-like tactics.” Glenn Beck would be crying this afternoon, weeping uncontrollably at the thought of what has become of America and our freedoms.

Anyone want to lay odds on whether Beck condemns Miller’s campaign today? I’d put them somewhere around 1 in a not-going-to-happen.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.