Something has been jogging around the back of my mind for a good while about a particular turn of phrase that has become almost universal among conservatives describing the alleged impact of Barack Obama’s foreign policies. Here’s Ted Cruz deploying it in New Hampshire over the weekend, apparently terrifying a very young girl (off camera, just beyond the hilarious dude in the premature St. Paddy’s Day hat) he then had to reassure:

YouTube video

Yes, “the world’s on fire.” And perhaps it’s just a coincidence that this is an extremely common millenialist fantasy among conservative evangelicals (Bill Graham once wrote an entire book entitled The World Aflame), but likely not for people like the son of Rev. Rafael Cruz. And it would be a completely natural concept for those who suspect the 44th president of the United States is, if not the Antichrist, then one of his tribunes.

So next time you hear a Republican pol announce “the world’s on fire,” you’re probably hearing a conscious or unconscious dog whistle.

YouTube video

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.