Speaking on the floor of the Senate Saturday, Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) said, "If we had a billion dollars for every time I heard the words 'Tea Party extremist,' we could solve this debt problem."
Proving his point about the vitriolic name-calling of conservatives so prevalent now, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman began his most recent piece, "Watching today's Republicans being led around by an extremist Tea Party":
Watching today's Republicans being led around by an extremist Tea Party faction, with no adult supervision, I find my mind drifting back to the late 1980s when I was assigned to cover the administration of George H.W. Bush, who I believe is one of our most underrated presidents.
That was just the start of Friedman's attacks:
Today's G.O.P. has gone from espousing cap-and-trade to deal with pollution to espousing the notion that all the world's climate scientists have secretly gotten together and perpetrated a ''hoax,'' called climate change, in order to expand government -- all of this at a time of record heat waves and climate disruptions.
All the world's climate scientists? Shouldn't Friedman say, "All the world's climate scientists I agree with?
Any honest journalist - I know that's an oxymoron today! - would certainly be aware of the existence of thousands of prominent climate scientists around the world that either don't think carbon dioxide is a factor in the less than one degree Celsius rise in temperatures the past 160 years or believe it's a minor precipitant.
Failing this, Friedman was expressing an "extremist" view as he arrogantly accused others of doing so:
Where have all the adults in this party gone? Where is Dick Lugar, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Colin Powell, Hank Paulson and Big Business? Are you telling me that they are ready to fall in line behind Michele Bachmann, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin? Are these really the pacesetters of modern conservatism?
So, Republicans in Name Only - folks whose political views are closer to Friedman's - are "adults" while those espousing real conservative opinions aren't.
It's exactly this kind of nonsense that Rubio spoke of Saturday (relevant section at 5:30):
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FLORIDA): If we had a billion dollars for every time I heard the words "Tea Party extremist," we could solve this debt problem. So all this name-calling, so I said let me read some quotes about this debt limit and I found some pretty extremist quotes.
Here's one. It says, "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I, therefore, intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt.” A quote from a Tea Party extremist, right? No. This is a quote from March 16 of 2006 from Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
I found another extremist quote. This one says, "Because this massive of accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against a debt limit increase.” Well, that must be from a Tea Party extremist member of the House, right? No. This is March 16, 2006, from Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
And last but not least, here's a quote from September 27 of 2007. It says, "I find it distasteful and disturbing to increase the debt limit yet again. Clearly we need to change course and this debt limit bill is just another reminder of that." And that is from the distinguished Senator from Nevada, the majority leader. On that date in 2007.
And yet now these same quotes in this context, what we're talking about raising the debt limit more than has ever been raised in one vote, is extremism? This name-calling is absurd and it sets this process back.
Indeed it is, and almost on cue Sunday, Friedman was guilty as charged.
(H/T Weasel Zippers)