Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Reich Stuff
More than a few of you have sent e-mails my way wondering why I haven't had anything to say about the current controversy surrounding Tea Party Republican House candidate Rich Iott of Ohio. For those whose cable systems don't get MSNBC for some reason, Iott's taking all kinds of heat over a particular hobby of his -- that would be dressing up like a Nazi on the weekends as part of one of those silly war reenactment clubs.
Alexandra Petri kind of nails not just Iott's fascination but the entire reenactment phenomenon in the Washington Post:
"You know how modern psychology and received wisdom urge us not to dwell on things that have gone badly in the past? There's another word for 'dwelling on things that have gone badly in the past,' and that word is 'reenacting.' Especially if you're on the wrong side, it's tantamount to returning to your elementary school and urging that one kid to kick you in the reproductive zone and cast aspersions on your home life. If you enjoy it, you're made of stronger stuff than I am! And Rich Iott clearly enjoys it."
I don't really have much to add to this whole debate, except to bring up two things: First of all, you know all those times you've done something socially unacceptable, embarrassing or generally inept and have thought to yourself, or even said out loud, "I guess I'll never be able to get into politics"? Well, it's a strange combination of both stupefying and oddly refreshing that a guy like Iott never looked at dressing up as a Nazi as something that might preclude him from running for office; it shows both his sincere naivete and his sheer lunkheadedness. And that brings me to point number two: Look at the bigger picture of what we've seen from the crop of Tea Party hopefuls who've dominated if not the political landscape then at least the political coverage over the past few months; they're a colorful rogue's gallery to say the least. Rand Paul is a conspiracy theorist who decried the civil rights movement; Christine O'Donnell didn't like to masturbate during the 90s and begins her much-parodied campaign ad with the words "I'm not a witch"; Carl Paladino sends racist e-mails to his friends, threatens reporters on camera, wants to ban all abortions, doesn't like gays and generally can't go 48 hours without tripping over his own tongue; Jan Brewer lives in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world where dangerous bands of immigrants roam the Arizona desert, Road Warrior-style, beheading American citizens; Sharron Angle vowed to end social security and federal benefits for veterans; Art Robinson is a crackpot who thinks nuclear waste is good for you; Joe Miller's just entirely full of shit; and now Rich Iott dresses up like a Nazi on the weekends.
While this kind of unadulterated crazy certainly keeps things interesting, it's only harmless if it's a sideshow, as opposed to being the main event -- and as I've said before, these clowns are quickly becoming the backbone of the Republican party. The kind of people you'd normally see ranting on soap boxes somewhere are suddenly being thrown behind a podium and afforded a heaping helping of entirely undeserved credibility.
Once again, the inmates are running the asylum.