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Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Delusions of world-historical grandeur

By Greg Sargent

One thing that is endlessly amusing about the contemporary right is their comical lack of historical proportion, their frequent tendency to compare their current situation to the plight endured by history's leading victims of oppression, persecution, and genocide.

Here, for instance, is GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith, bemoaning the "chains of Obamacare" and comparing the passage of health reform -- the individual mandate in particular -- to the reign of George III:

"As Virginians, we did not accept the chains of George the Third." Griffith said. "Nor will we accept the chains of Obamacare."

Well, okay. Normally you could chalk this up to an understandable desire on the part of a little-known Congressman to punch through the clutter and get himself some airtime on cable. But the fact is that you hear this kind of stuff all the time on the right.

Rush Limbaugh has compared Washington D.C. to "the old south" for Republicans, describing them as an "oppressed minority." Glenn Beck has lamented America's return to the 1950s, "except the races are reversed." Sarah Palin, of course, compared criticism of her incendiary rhetoric in the wake of the Arizona shooting to "blood libel." The Washington Times recently complained of "an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers." And so on.

As Adam Serwer noted the other day, for the right, "outsize comparisons of partisan political conflict to instances of terrible historical oppression is a fairly frequent rhetorical device."

It's hard to know what motivates this kind of thing. It's almost as if these folks are suffering from what you might call a world-historical inferiority complex. They're desperate to imagine themselves as actors in an ongoing drama that rivals the most momentous struggles and conflicts in human history. So they just play-act the part. It's the same thing you see on display when right-leaning writers imagine themselves as intellectual and political descendents of George Orwell (who actually called himself a democratic socialist), bravely battling the onset of global totalitarianism as the world descended into epic bloodshed and darkness. It's all so pathetic and adolescent.

By Greg Sargent  | January 20, 2011; 10:55 AM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House GOPers  
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Next: The Miranda dodge


Sounds like Republicans would like to discard the chains of democracy!

Posted by: mmyotis | January 20, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Tea Party Congressman Reveals That His Party has been using The Big Lie tactic to mislead The American People.

You know that Big Lie that the Republicans keep spreading about how the Health Care Reform Bill, which President Obama signed into law, means Government has taken over running health care?

You must all be familiar with that piece of Republican Nonsense, aren't you? Most of them are still claiming that Government is taking over health care.

However; yesterday; one of their own unintentionally let the cat out of the bag, and admitted that The Republicans have been telling The Big Lie.

Here is how he did it. If the government were really taking over health care, then he would not be able to keep his old private insurance coverage, but that is exactly what he said he is going to do.

Read it for yourselves:

"because he says members of Congress should not support laws they don't want applied to themselves. From The Daily Courier of Arizona:

New U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar says he won't sign up his family for federal health insurance since he wants to dismantle the landmark health care legislation the previous Congress created.

Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist, said members of Congress should not vote for laws they don't want for themselves, and vice versa.

"I'm keeping my own private (health insurance) plan," he said."

Could he have made it any clearer, that the The Republicians were just using The Big Lie tactic all along.

He is one of the liars, who kept telling the voters that government was going to be making all the health care decisions for them, and yet; he admitted yesterday that he was just spreading The Big Lie.

He said he is going to be able to keep his old private insurance policy.

" "I'm keeping my own private (health insurance) plan," he said.""

There you go Greg. Pass that along to Congressman Cohen, and thank him for me, for calling out the heartless lying cabal that calls itself The Republican Party.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 20, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I apologize for the stupidity my state has unleashed onto this great country after this crop of Republican's managed to bamboozle the public into voting them into office.

But, lets not always forget to thank Koch Industries and their allies who are responsible for the "Know Nothing" party folks to be such a formidable force in 2010.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 20, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Have you heard the most recent Big Lie that Republicans have been telling about health care reform?

They say that it is "a job killer".

Didn't the Republicans kill all the jobs, by the time Bush left office, without any health care reform being in place?!

Aren't the Republicans the party that just went to the mat, to keep Tax Incentives in place to reward American Corporations who send American jobs to foreign countries.

All The Republicans have is The Big Lie tactic.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 20, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

This somewhat comical post, appearing as it does only a day after Cohen (Dem) compared his opponents to "the Nazi propaganda minister who drummed up support for the Final Solution." (HotAir)

This is going to be a looooong session of congress...

Posted by: sbj3 | January 20, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Greg got a running start yesterday to offer Congressman Cohen a WaPo podium to further explain and justify his Goebels slander.

And now Greg has the temerity to climb up on his hind legs and howl about "comical lack of historical proportion"?

"You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."
[Matthew 23:24]

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 20, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

what you see here from kaddafi is rank dishonesty. he somehow forgot to mention that I strongly condemned what Cohen said.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 20, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."


Posted by: cao091402 | January 20, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Greg, why haven't you banned caothien9?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 20, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

[Liam lied: "Didn't the Republicans kill all the jobs, by the time Bush left office, without any health care reform being in place?!"]

The Pelosi-Obama-Reid (POR) economy kicked in during the latter part of June 2007, when its Congressional architects — Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid — decided that starving the economy of energy by refusing to allow more offshore drilling in the face of $4 gas prices was a winning political position. Pelosi claimed that because we couldn’t totally “drill our way out of this,” we shouldn’t increase drilling at all. Reid put an exclamation point on Pelosi’s stubbornness by insisting that fossil fuels are “making us sick.” Well, the only thing sickened by their policies was the US Economy.

FDR tried massive public works programs during the Depression. All he did is prolong it for seven years. Japan tried government stimulus for 10 years running in the 1990s. It only resulted in “the lost decade.”

What Pelosi, Obama, and Reid should have done is expand the tax cut element of the stimulus plan to include ALL incomes, ditch almost all of the (alleged) "green investments," open up oil and gas exploration, and (eventually) watch the royalty money pour in.

High oil prices = Job Losses


Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 20, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

That is the problem with Liberals. They keep whining about Democrats never showing any fight, and of always letting Republicans get away with The Big Lie.

Then, when Congressman Cohen tells the truth about what the Republicans are doing, Liberals rush to attack him.

Even Greg got the vapors, and called fo the smelling salts.

What a bunch of gutless wonders the liberal wing of the Democratic party has jellyfished into.

They make me sick.

Congressman Cohen told the truth, and nothing but the truth, and wonder of wonders, it is the left wingers who could not handle it.

No wonder The Tea Party kicked their arses. They stay on offense, while the so called progressives attack any Democrat who even dares to tell the truth about the Republicans use of The Big Lie.

Shame on you Greg. With cowards like you, we do not need any political foes.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 20, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@Greg: Here is the sum total of your Cohen condemnation:

"Look, just stop it. As the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement today, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is "never acceptable."

That was it. You then went on to give Cohen even more space to defend his actions. In that follow-up post you offered no condemnation whatsoever. And, in fact, you gave Cohen an undeserved platform to deny that he did what he obviously did.

Posted by: sbj3 | January 20, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Greg to Kaddafi.

Ouch. Hey no fair. I gave you my lunch money, so stop saying I didn't.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 20, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

[Greg pinwheeled: "what you see here from kaddafi is rank dishonesty. he somehow forgot to mention that I strongly condemned what Cohen said."]

Now that's dishonest. Greg strongly condemned Cohen-- then offered an interview to put (your words, Greg) "the Goebbels and "big lie" charges into the context."

This is the same silly game Greg played over the passed week with Palin slanderers. Feign "civility" while providing a stage for the smear-mongers to explain and justify their smears.

Don't be a clownish facilitator of smear-mongers your whole life, Greg.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 20, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Cohen will go nowhere fast in the Dem party, the next Grayson if you will. In the other party, however, Griffith has seen the career paths of Palin, Bachman, Wilson, etc., so he knows the best way to roll. That is the difference that is apparently beyond the comprehension of the trolls here.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | January 20, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmmm, while we slither around with the back bench Congress persons and their sometime volatile and asinine comments to gain press coverage, millions more homes head into foreclosure and no one is really addressing the problem in the Administration, unless you count Sheila Barr's latest suggestion which is at least a start. Sen. Jeff Merkely tries to push the White House into doing some heavy lifting to save itself from the economic path they have chosen.

I'm not back yet, just wanted to link this because it's important re the State of the Union, just as important as the words he chooses regarding SS and Afganistan.


"Among the few people in Washington willing to bring up this inconvenient crisis is Sen. Jeff Merkley. He unveiled an actual plan for fixing the mortgage market Tuesday, and today he writes a letter to the President, pleading with him to wake up and acknowledge the robo-signed, improperly-conveyed-to-the-trust elephant in the room. He wants the President to use the State of the Union to restart this conversation. Here’s the key graf:

""A record one million families lost their home to foreclosure last year. Each of these foreclosures has damaged a family, set back a community, and chipped away at an already weak national economy. Few would argue that the housing crisis was the root cause of the collapse in our financial markets and the resulting economic recession. Although we have begun the process of reforming the financial system and restoring access to credit for small businesses, as long as families continue to lose their homes by the hundreds of thousands, even the most inspired economic policies will likely fall short.""

The need to address the foreclosure crisis should spark in the President nothing so much as self-preservation. A recovery-stunting crisis will have major implications for 2012.

Merkley in the letter reiterates his six-point plan to fix the housing mess. Interestingly, a couple of them match up with what Sheila Bair presented to the Mortgage Bankers Association yesterday as a reform for the servicing industry: a single point of contact at the servicers for borrowers to deal with, for example, and an independent third-party review of servicer decisions prior to foreclosure. As Merkley rightly points out, a number of his ideas could be implemented by the President without Congressional action, though he will offer legislation on these ideas soon."

Posted by: lmsinca | January 20, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

We heard precisely the same thing from the left for eight years. Before that we heard it from the right while Clinton was in power, and before that from the left, under Reagan and the elder Bush. This is the nature of political opposition.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 20, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

GOP campaigns are led by people who are generally smart and fairly rich, but they are designed to appeal to a wholly different class of people, ones who feel that they have been slighted, overlooked, aren't listened to, have lost their privileges and generally aren't doing as well as they want or think they ought to be in an era of very rapid and dislocating changes. It is these people who are the target of appeals based on an exaggerated sense of simultaneous entitlement and victimhood.

These kinds of campaigns are usually based on finding scapegoats to account for why the target audience isn't better off. In addition, they exaggerate the threat to drum up support, gin up the audience and give them and their supporters an exaggerated sense of importance.

It is a very old tactic based on fundamantal understandings of human psychology known to successful salespeople and hucksters forever.

One very large problem for the rest of us is that its perpetuation depends on never solving the problems that give rise to such anxiety in the target audience. But that is ok for the leaders, because the target audience isn't really who they govern in favior of, rather it is those of the rich who are their patrons.

Barnum was right.

Posted by: Mimikatz | January 20, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Well, I am off to find some where that the Progressive blog operators do not join up with the Rabid Dogs of The Right, to hunt down and savage any Progressive Democrat who dares to stand up in Congress and tell the truth and nothing but the truth about The Republican's use of The Big lie tactic.

Adios. Be sure to keep on cowering, when every Right Wing Bullies say Boo.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 20, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

So no defense of the George III comaprison? Just criticizing Greg for a lukewarm criticism of Cohen?

Can we just all agree that civility is done with so that we can stop having to condemn and apologize for everything? It was nice while it lasted (a couple days) and I'll continue to refrain from insulting people, but this you're a hypocrite, no you're a hypocrite string of posts is going to get stale quickly.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 20, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

All, nice post by Adam Serwer on Obama's "Miranda dodge":

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 20, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse


Isn't it the democrats who have tried to have the delusions about Obama - who is nothing but a failure, and when the health care plan is repealed, will have nothing to show for his attempt to redistribute wealth ?


"Obama wants everyone to be equally poor - and the way to do it is to drag the economy down, INCREASE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, and then cut social security."

One has to look at Obama's actions - and these have been Obama's actions.

Obama took $500 Billion out of Medicare. Simple. Obama cares more about his "transformation" (which is "redistribution of wealth") than he cares about growing the Economy.


It is true - and the more the liberals deny what Obama is up to - the more the American People are sick of the liberals.

What the liberals do NOT understand is: if one grows the Economy, the slice of the pie the bottom half gets ENDS UP LARGER after a few years compared to any redistribution efforts. It is that simple: the bottom half is better off when the OVERALL ECONOMY IS GROWN.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 20, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

[ass_hat_inthedark whined: "So no defense of the George III comaprison?"]

Nope. None needed. Greg's 'tu quoque' reasoning is merely gratuitous. Logically, it is equally gratuitously dismissed.

Grade: F (miserable failure)

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 20, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse're on a roll today another great post at 11:49AM

I'm all for civility but I do wonder how we balance that with honestly. Considering that it's generally accepted as rude to call someone a liar...what does one do when confronted with partisan pathological liars.

Personally I believe this is working itself out. My 34 year old son lives in the heart of the rust belt...Columbus Oh.
He is an indy generally frustrated by both parties. He votes R -75% D -25%.
He called me yesterday to say.."Do you believe what these aholes (he didn't get the civility memo lol) are doing. The R's do nothing..they simply pander and put on a show for the wackadoodle TPers. How about trying to solve some problems instead of all the political grandstanding.

Again...this is a no win situation for the R's. While they may bray about "promises kept" indys see right through this. My son and others my use Peggy Noonan's now infamous phrase...Political B.S. to describe R behavior. They win the house and this is what they do? Knock yourself out boys.

Some have posted that the R win in the election was about the ACA. was about double digit unemployment!!!!!
"It's the economy stupid".

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 20, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

What's so pathetic and adolescent is your refusal to turn your intelligent mind to your own side and critique with any honesty.

For the left is just as bad as the right at the very same thing you attempt to dissect here: historical hyperbole. Or did you not just see the Democratic Congressman use Nazi metaphors on the floor to describe his conservative colleagues in the House? How about the leftist group that plans to protest the HOME of a contractor just because he contracted for WalMart? Violent, threatening, hyperbolic rhetoric is every bit the disease of the left that it is on the right.

Voters in the middle have had enough of the shenanigans on both sides, and we think you are both pathetic and adolescent. We wish there was a mature point of view to be found in the media. There isn't. This intellectual cooties game you two play with each other is what is pathetic and adolescent. And unAmerican to boot.

Posted by: Lola-at-Large | January 20, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

hey greg, maybe obama should not have let it slip that this was the biggest piece of social legislation in a generation. some people are going to be strong in support of it - and it seems many more are strongly opposed to it.

you can pretend like it was a "landmark" (which it is, just in a really bad way) and then pretend like people on the otherside are exagerating the meaning of it. you conceeded the point long ago in those lighter than air speeches obama became famous for.

Posted by: dummypants | January 20, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Now Rush hit back at Cohen.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 20, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party is funded by big business and elected to power by the extreme right. It's not the party of William F. Buckley anymore, but of the paranoid me-first segment of American society.

Posted by: sr31 | January 20, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, those darned Republicans.

What we really need to do is go back to the 'We have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in it' and the 'deem and pass' mentalities, not to mention a president who thinks it's OK to refer to half the country as 'enemies.'

Yup, that would fix everything and put those arrogant, ahistorical Republicans in their place, eh?

Or maybe -- for once -- we could get some decent, unbiased reporting from our MSM.

Posted by: egdusa | January 20, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Drama queens. Your pain and suffering is supposed to be born silently by yourself but their hangnail is a national tragedy.

Posted by: SarahBB | January 20, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"As Virginians, we did not accept the chains of George the Third." Griffith said. "Nor will we accept the chains of Obamacare."


Seems like an accurate metaphor. They're both forms of taxation.

Obamacare failed to address the biggest problem with health care: the cost.

Posted by: Benson | January 20, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama's HCR law is the greatest affront to white supremacy since Resconstruction...

Posted by: demtse | January 20, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Bush and Repubs did what?

1)Republicans House members voting for TARP…Bailouts of GM,AIG, etc…

2>) 65 House Republicans voted in favor
34 Senate Republicans voted for in favor
President Bush, a Republican, subsequently signed it into law.

*The Troubled Asset Relief Program, commonly referred to as Tarp which is a a program of the USA gov't to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector.was a component of the government's measures in 2008 to address the subprime mortgage crisis.*

3) On Sep. 7, 2008, Fannie and Freddie were essentially nationalized(Bush signed the law) : placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Under the terms of the rescue, the Treasury has invested billions to cover the companies' losses. Initially, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson ( Bushs main guy) put a ceiling of $100 billion for investments in each company. In February, Tim Either raised it to $200 billion. The money was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
******Bush signed the law***

4.) On four separate occasions, the government has offered aid to AIG to keep it from collapsing, rising from an initial $85 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve to a combined $180 billion effort between the Treasury ($70 billion) and Fed ($110 billion). ($40 billion of the Treasury’s commitment is also included in the TARP total.)

5.)In late September 2008, Bush signed a bill with more than $630 billion spending bill, which included a measure for $25 billion in loans to the auto industry. These low-interest loans are intended to aid the industry in its push to build more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Detroit 3 -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- will be the primary beneficiaries.

6....Most House and Senators have gov't healthcare...Why if its so bad for us does the rethugs have it?

The Big Lie: Republicans care...

Posted by: Realistic5 | January 20, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Delusions of world-historical grandeur are just as prevalent for the left.
Every conservative is branded a Nazi, A clansman and worse.

When a Obama supporter from Tuscan shoots a moderate democrat, a Bush appointed judge and a bunch of other innocent people It is suddenly Sarah Palin’s fault! Its Becks fault! It’s those Bloodthirsty Tea Baggers!

That is a delusion of monumental proportion!
The level your own Hypocrisy is without also equal!

Posted by: rexreddy | January 20, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The contemporary right use historical comparison for two purposes:

1. Comparing a current situation with a historical situation to show how things are as good as they were then.

2. Comparing a current situation iwth a historical situation to show how things are bad now because in the historical situation they were better, made sense, didn't cost money, didn't involve more government, and didn't mean more money down the toilet.

Historical comparison's of oppression are meant to show how there is still too much government, doing too much, spending too much money, stifling business and free enterprise.

Historical comparisons of persecution are meant to show how the left is removing choice and inserting regulation whether you want it or not.

Genocide...Well, you got me there. But I don't give that moose twit much credence orthe benefit of the doubt when it comes to intelligence.

Get off your self-superior high horse and stop playing dumb Sargent.

Posted by: cgteddy911 | January 20, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Realistic, excellent comments. The problem is that the right is not receptive to or impressed by facts. They have drunk the koolade and are responding like the brainwashed people the majority of them are. When people listen to Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, etc., you know that they are outside reason somewhere and rational discussion is not an option.

Posted by: withersb | January 20, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Just looked up "Delusional" on Wikipedia and there was a group photo of the entire Greg Sargent/WAPO Amen Choir, repleat with that 1,000 yard Forest Gump stare, and all enjoying a bubbling gallon of Otrauma Kool-aid.

Who would have thunk it??!!

The Washington Post: If you don't get it - You got it!

Posted by: MDDem1 | January 20, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

For those who want lower costs for health care you better hope that the Supreme Court does not knock down the "individual mandate." Without it, we are all paying for people who do not pay into the system. Republicans back in the 1990s recognized this, Romeny recognized this in Massachusetts and the Hertiage Foundation recognized this.

Posted by: smith6 | January 20, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

By Delusions of Grandeur I think you must mean that Republicans are deluded if they think we will ever be free of the trappings of grandeur accumulated by the Democratic Party's insatiable quest for federal control of everything. The only way to rid ourselves of those trappings is to get rid of the Democrats...starting in 2012.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | January 20, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives have a right to be furious. Why do Americans care so much about constant electricity (unlike Third World countries with constants interruptions of power)? Why do they enjoy their interstate highways? Or public schools? Or libraries? Conservatives just can't get why we'd rather pay taxes for those services than giving away our taxes to the top 1/10 percent earners in the country. I'd be up in arms too! The country is too stupid to know what's good for it. The only middle Americans they like aren't the middle-class, it's the citizens living between Colorado and West Virginia.

Makes them feel persecuted. Wonder why?

Posted by: sachancp | January 20, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Sargent is deluding himself that blind partisan rhetoric passes for a newspaper column.

Posted by: Benson | January 20, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

More important than Cohen, the House has released its list of $2.5 TRILLION in proposed spending cuts:

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 20, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Seems like an accurate metaphor. They're both forms of taxation.

Obamacare failed to address the biggest problem with health care: the cost.

Posted by: Benson

Except that the ACA was voted into law by duly elected officials after a democratic election. I'm pretty sure that wasnt' the case with George III.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 20, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

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