You know, back in 2009, when the Republican National Committee seriously discussed a resolution that labeled the opposition the “Democrat Socialist Party,” it seemed a very good example of how a radicalized conservative movement that was suddenly entertaining old Bircher memes had gained alarming influence in one of the country’s two major political parties. The RNC eventually dropped the proposal (though it did refer to the Democrat Party’s “socialist agenda”), but it was a near thing.

Nowadays loose references to “socialism” by Republicans are so common nobody much notices them. And when Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, no ideological firebrand but rather the most hackish of time-servers, casually said that under Democratic governance “this country is heading for national socialism,” it raised a few eyebrows, but didn’t get him immediately hooted off the rostrum and then removed from the ballot, as it might have done not that long ago.

You have to wonder what Bob Dole, who was sitting nearby Roberts when he made this incredibly offensive remark–and who fought against actual National Socialists in World War II–thought of it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.