Of course I agree with John Avlon that it would be nice if Republican Rep. Allen West were called to account for saying that he believes “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.” It’s a serious accusation to throw out so casually.

But conservatives have worked hard to forge an environment where they can do just that: casually accuse liberals of radical evil. And it’s such old hat by now, and so obviously directed at a small, hard-right slice of the electorate—who the hell else is going to respond to the specter of Communism in 2012 with anything but a scoff?—that I just find it hard to muster much outrage.

It’s easy to forget, since folks like Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are so effortlessly and pleasantly ignored, that there are still big-time media personalities hammering this nonsense into the heads of Americans every hour of every day. So comments like this might stand out to us or to John Avlon, but they’re now a key part of the American conservative vernacular.

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Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.