There was an essay from Daily Kos, perhaps the major liberal website, a few days ago (No offense meant to Huffpo, MyDD, Democratic Underground, et alia). It notes an obscure bit of legislation that the author believes is being put into place so that George W. Bush can declare martial law and refuse to give up the presidency in 2009. It’s just nuts.
We have to start there. This is a supposedly serious thinker, writing on a supposedly serious political site, and it’s just nuts.
Sane people can have crazy ideas. In fact, it is likely that all of us have an odd belief or two tucked in an odd corner. I know relatively sane people who think that Henry Kissinger is the Antichrist, or that the pagan goddess on the seal of the EU is significant in apocalyptic prophecy. Tax protesters, New Agers, and diet addicts all have their favored beliefs. Lots of folks read or watched The DaVinci Code last year, and some folks still get outraged if one suggests that WWF is fixed. People fall for Ponzi schemes. There are amazingly improbable urban legends which remain widely believed even by educated people, and there are urban legends which are believed especially by educated people.
I touched on this a year ago in a similar context. Fashions in paranoia change slowly, I guess.
Conservatives see this as merely bizarre, that anyone could think that Chavez, the Saddam of yore, and Bush differ in national authority only in small degree. Liberals think conservatives blind for not seeing it. It is for this reason that protestations that the left is being paranoid and hyperbolic fall on deaf ears. They really believe that a president wields enormous power, and any move by the Bush administration to assert authority in an unclear area is an attempt to capture that last few percentage points of power and bring us close to autocracy.
I sent the story along to a few liberal friends, who wrote back that they hoped it wasn't true. One added the disclaimer that he was sure that there were some in this administration who would act like this if they could. Astounding. This is on the level of believing in the Illuminati - of the animals believing Napoleon when he blames Snowball in Animal Farm.
In a related story, I had someone again tell me at work the story of Dan Quayle wishing that he's brushed up on his Latin so he could speak to the people of Latin America. Snopes, as usual, comes to the rescue with the news that this is false, and just one more urban legend.
Why do they need so badly to see Republicans as evil and stupid? What does it say about you if you are willing to gullibly swallow anything about your opponents?