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Republican campaign as murder-suicide pact?

Matt Taibbi’s funny, insightful but savage takedown of the Repub field

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone (and his eponymous Taibblog) offers a funny, insightful but savage takedown of the Repub field which says has entered “the last stage in any paranoid illness” where the poor psychopath has started to believe that his best friends and most trusted allies are all part of the plot against him.

Yes it’s funny, sad and a little bit scary to see the latest round of the more-consistently-conservative-than-thou contest between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. My antennae were up when Santorum said on Wednesday night that although he regrets it now, he violated his own principles to vote for Pres. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” bill because “politics is a team sport” and “sometimes you have to take one for the team.”

 The studio audience booed even as he said it. And sure enough, Romney started making Santorum pay the very next morning. (Romney: “I wondered which team he was taking that for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington.”) If that Santorum moment isn’t the subject of an attack ad yet, don’t hold your breath.

I actually liked Jon Stewart’s take on the “boo’ moment on last night’s Daily Show when he mocked the audience’s reaction thus: “Yes, booo. I boo your uncomfortably frank assessment of the inner workings of our Legislature. Booooo.”

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To Taibbi, it’s evidence of the circular firing squad turning into a murder-suicide pact or, in this passage, a drug addiction.

“Oh, sure, your average conservative will insist his belief system is based upon a passion for the free market and limited government, but that’s mostly a cover story. Instead, the vast team-building exercise that has driven the broadcasts of people like Rush and Hannity and the talking heads on Fox for decades now has really been a kind of ongoing Quest for Orthodoxy, in which the team members congregate in front of the TV and the radio and share in the warm feeling of pointing the finger at people who aren’t as American as they are, who lack their family values, who don’t share their All-American work ethic.

The finger-pointing game is a fun one to play, but it’s a little like drugs – you have to keep taking bigger and bigger doses in order to get the same high.”

Yes, funny, insightful, savage. Old habits die hard and I cringe a bit when anyone is so convinced of the rightness of their own side that they abandon the effort to consider whether the other side has anything worth listening to. It’s not always easy, but I’m still trying.

And after this, no more from me about Wednesday’s debate.