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Misdiagnosing The GOP's Ailments

Former Giuliani aide John Avlon complains about the Texas Republican Party:

What’s the matter with Texas?
Congressman Joe Barton’s bizarre apology to BP last week is only the beginning. Ditto the newly released Republican Texas State Party Platform ably solidifying its worst stereotypes—calling for the re-criminalization of sodomy and making gay marriage a felony. Since the election of President Obama, the GOP’s Lone Star State delegation has developed a singular record of wingnuttery.
It’s almost like the conservative contingent from the great state of Texas is trying to embarrass their fellow citizens while providing Democrats with a one-stop-shop oppo file, in terms of nationalizing the campaign. In the last year alone, we’ve seen six members of the Texas Republican delegation—John Carter, John Culberson, Louis Gohmert, Kenny Marchant, Randy Neugebauer and Ted Poe—decide to sign-on as co-sponsors of the ‘Birther Bill’ snaking its way through the Congressional fringe, making them half of the bill’s total support.
We’ve heard Rep. Randy Neugebauer scream “baby killer” at Congressman Bart Stupak after he voted for health-care reform.
We’ve seen Rep. Louis Gohmert take to the House floor to denounce hate crimes legislation by bringing bestiality and necrophilia into the debate: “If you’re oriented toward animals, bestiality, then that’s not something that could be held against you ... which means that you’d have to strike any laws against bestiality. If you’re oriented toward corpses, toward children. You know, there are all kinds of perversions, what most of us would call perversions, some would say it sounds like fun, but most of us would say were perversions and there have been laws against them and this bill says that whatever you're oriented toward sexually that cannot be a source of bias against someone.”

These are all pretty crazy positions. But there's nothing really new about major chunks of the GOP attacking gay marriage or comparing homosexuality to perversion. What has changed over the last two years is the party's embrace of economic doctrines even more radical than the ones that used to be considered cutting-edge radical. You have Glenn Beck's denunciation of everything government has done since Teddy Roosevelt, the widespread assertion that government can only do a small handful of things mentioned in the Constitution, and the renewed popularity of the crank theories of the demented cult leader Ayn Rand. Just the other day, you had Oklahoma Republican governor candidate Randy Brogdon say, of the Deepwater Horizon accident, "This is a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector." Never! This is truly nuts.

Part of the problem is that you have libertarian-ish elites in the GOP pushing back against social conservatism, but very little push-back against the economic extremism that is carrying the day in the party.