Even people at AEI (a prominent conservative think tank) think the total rage is a bit out of control:
“I’ve not seen anything like this before,” said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It is just such an interesting phenomenon — call it anthropological or sociological or pathological. An obsessive hatred with all things Obamacare that has infected everybody on the Republican side. They can’t say anything positive about any element of a law that is based on their own fundamental ideas. It means that when anybody says something that could in any way be construed as positive regarding Obamacare it becomes fodder for attacks. … Conservatives are eating their own.”
In a way, the phenomenon is reminiscent of McCarthyism, named after Sen. Joe McCarthy, who in the 1950s accused U.S. government officials and others of secretly sympathizing with communism. But Obamacare McCarthyism takes that to a new level, Ornstein argued.
“Even then it was pretty clear that you had a lot of Republicans — it was very clear that President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower viewed what McCarthy was doing as appalling,” he said. “We call it McCarthyism when you’re basically slimed for something you said or did. But even that was different because you had a party that was divided — not on the issue of communism, but on whether it was fair to [attack people as communist sympathizers].”
Ornstein summed it up this way: “These are the talking points and if you don’t apply them, then you’re a traitor.” He confessed that he’s “never seen anything like that before. I mean, you can certainly find party litmus tests,” he said, mentioning support for abortion rights and opposition to the Vietnam war for Democrats in the 1970s. “But this has been taken to a level that I think is almost bizarre.”
You can hear my own — fairly extensive — thoughts on this topic in Episode 62 – Role of Government.