LA Times: 'The Lunatic Right Returns'

In yesterday's Los Angeles Times, columnist Rosa Brooks' piece is titled "The lunatic right returns." The cause of her current displeasure is the presence of people associated with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on a Conservative Political Action Conference panel.Comments Ms. Brooks: "IF YOU HATED IT the first time, you might like the sequel better."Remember Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the right-wing goon squad whose defamatory insinuations helped sink John Kerry's presidential campaign? They're back! This afternoon, key Swift boaters George 'Bud' Day, Mary Jane McManus and Carlton Sherwood are holding a little reunion, in the guise of a panel discussion at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference. The panel topic? 'The Left's Repeated Campaign Against the American Soldier.'"What particularly annoys her is that the Swifties' participation is "symbolic of the increasing takeover of the 'conservative' movement by unprincipled, right-wing extremists."Still, she's able to see some good: "All this is bad news for the conservative movement, which will only become more marginal if it continues to embrace its lunatic fringe. But it's probably good for progressives, who stand to gain the most from conservatism's self-destruction."The theme that conservatism is for nuts is an old one. Half a century ago psychologist Harry Overstreet warned the public about individuals who resisted programs such as public housing and foreign aid. Such people, he asserted, “may appear ‘normal’ in the sense that they are able to hold a job and otherwise maintain their status as members of society; but they are, we now recognize, well along the road to mental illness.”When Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964, a now-defunct magazine published the opinion of some psychiatrists that Barry was bonkers. He sued and won a substantial settlement, but that took years and the damage had already been done.Ronald Reagan was a borderline psycho, some Lefties claimed, so delusional that he couldn’t tell the difference between movies and reality. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some of his more vicious critics declared he’s suffered from that illness for decades.More recently, some academics turned out a taxpayer-funded (of course) study that examined supposed common psychological factors linked to conservatism. These include fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty avoidance and terror management. On an accompanying press release, the scholars noted: "Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives. . . "How many left left-wing conservatives do you think they found?Liberals can satisfy themselves all they want with the myth that conservatives are ready for straitjackets. But wasn't it liberals who had to run to their therapists after, with the patriotic assistance of the Swift Boaters, John Kerry went down to defeat?