THE VALUE IN CALLING OUT ‘DICKISHNESS’…. Andrew Sullivan has been quite effective recently in describing the institutional problems of the contemporary Republican Party, noting recently for example, that the congressional GOP has become “as close to organized vandalism as one can imagine.”

He had a related item this week that stood out for me. The headline read, “The Dickishness Of The GOP.”

What we’ve observed these past two years is a political party that knows nothing but scorched earth tactics, cannot begin to see any merits in the other party’s arguments, refuses to compromise one inch on anything, and has sought from the very beginning to do nothing but destroy the Obama presidency. I see no other coherent message or strategy since 2008. Just opposition to everything, zero support for a president grappling with a recession their own party did much to precipitate, and facing a fiscal crisis the GOP alone made far worse with their spending in the Bush-Cheney years. There is not a scintilla of responsibility for their past; not a sliver of good will for a duly elected president. Worse, figures like Cantor and McCain actively seek to back foreign governments against the duly elected president of their own country, and seek to repeal the signature policy achievement of Obama’s first two years, universal healthcare. […]

This is not conservatism, properly understood, a disposition that respects the institutions and traditions of government, that can give as well as take, that seeks the national interest before partisan concerns, and that respects both the other branches of government and seeks to work with them. These people are not conservatives in this core civilized sense; they are partisan vandals.

Reflecting on this item, Steve M. added some related thoughts on the subject.

[T]here’s an MSM take on Republicans that strengthens the GOP: namely, that no matter what the party does, it’s a legitimate party interested in governance. It’s one of our major political institutions — it can’t ever be talked about as if it’s gone off the rails, as if it’s thuggish and deliberately acting in opposition to the national interest. Major political parties just don’t do that with malice aforethought.

Think about laundry detergents — all those well-established brands made for years by well-established companies. Now imagine that there was a change of formula that meant one of them — Tide or All or Wisk or Cheer or Gain or Fresh Start or whatever — was suddenly made with illegally massive doses of carcinogens. Imagine that this wasn’t a secret — it was openly available information — but it was never reported, simply because, well, Procter & Gamble and Sun Products and Unilever and the rest are fine, upstanding, well-established companies, so it’s just unthinkable that one of them would be selling dangerous products in the supermarket, blatantly and unashamedly.

That’s where we are with the GOP. The MSM simply can’t adjust its image of this venerable party. This venerable party can’t have become a radical cult.

The observations do have a certain taboo quality, don’t they? In the world of serious discourse, it’s entirely appropriate to say a major political party is wrong. It’s equally acceptable to accuse the party of having a misguided agenda, or being incompetent, or even having corrupt leaders.

But the point Andrew and Steve are emphasizing is qualitatively different. This is an observation predicated on the notion that a major political party is now operating less as a party and more as a nihilistic, borderline dangerous, gang.

I suspect the vast majority of Americans aren’t especially aware of any of this. The mainstream probably just assumes we have the same two parties we’ve always had — one on the center-left, one on the center-right — and they’re simply engaged in the traditional partisan conflicts we’ve grown accustomed to at various levels of government. In general, major news organizations are reluctant to suggest otherwise.

It’s what makes tirades like “The Dickishness Of The GOP” all the more provocative.

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Steve Benen

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.