Gail Collins comments today that 5% of the country is crazy, and has always been. Been addressed before; Hofstadter's 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics', written in the wake of another Scoundrel Time, comes to mind:
The problem is not so much the crazies, who are always with us. The problem is that not nearly enough people actually call these crazy people crazy. Such as Paul Wellstone and Dennis Kucinich are marginalized and dismissed, but Beck and the Tea Partiers are taken seriously. And even those who do reject the crazies oft make excuses for them, try to explain them, in precisely the manner they loudly denounce in projecting onto lefties similar behavior, when lefties try to understand and explain (but never justify) evil as originating from human beings. Timothy McVeigh might have killed a hundred or so people, but government is too big and intrusive. Killing ATF agents is wrong, but they're jackbooted thugs who want to take away our guns. Shooting a doc as he eats breakfast with his family is wrong, but abortion is murder. Flying a plane into an IRS building is wrong, but taxation is tyranny. Burning the Quran is wrong, but Islam is evil and moderate Islam a dangerous illusion. Like that. Utterly, completely indefensible and inexcusable, that. And fact is,a Republican running for office denouncing such people in no uncertain terms wouldn't have a chance in hell. And nobody calls them on it.