In the last few days, I've seen various hints that liberals are tiring of the crazy talk -- that we should perhaps ignore it and it'll just go away. But I'm not convinced that ignoring the tea baggers or Glenn Beck is such a great idea.
My serious concern is that the crazy tea bag parties and the inflammatory FOX News rants will begin to resonate and, dare I say, evolve. How often have we watched a crazy Drudge headline turn up in the establishment press as "conventional wisdom?" Once the far-right message makes that leap, it won't take much for it to stir up the notorious American "gut reaction." While liberal discourse tends to be smarter and more policy-driven, the far-right is all about the bumper sticker. For better or worse, Americans love bumper stickers.
Think back ten or so years ago. American voters began to buy into the far-right attacks on President Clinton and, during the 2000 election, the same thing happened to Al Gore. Far-right attacks became conventional wisdom, and too many people listened to their "gut" and voted for George W. Bush despite a decade of relative peace and prosperity. What initially seemed like crazy attacks on the president slowly but surely grew into impeachment, accusations about "inventing the internet" and the presidency of George W. Bush.
However unlikely it might seem right now, Americans will surely elect a Republican if the far-right bumper sticker message begins to make that easy leap from Glenn Beck and Drudge over to the real world where it will stimulate enough gut reaction to elect, say, Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich or worse.
So I'm inclined to mock and discredit them now (or at least to do my part) before the crazy talk becomes a serious problem.
Adding... To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the crazy talk will make this transition. Nor am I panicked in any way. But it's worth it to keep an eye on what's happening. At this point, it could swing either way: it could remain on the fringes, or it could make that leap.