In an excellent piece, Hendrik Hertzberg explains what is driving the right wing’s lunacy about President Obama and healthcare reform:
Lies and fantasies about health-care reform swirled together with lies and fantasies about the chief executive himself. Obama is plotting to set up “death panels,” government tribunals authorized to euthanize the old and sick. Obama was born in Kenya and therefore his very Presidency is unconstitutional. Obama will cut Medicare benefits to provide coverage to illegal aliens. Obama seeks to indoctrinate children in Marxist ideology and put teenagers in “reëducation camps.” Obama is a Communist. Obama is a Fascist.
This sort of lunatic paranoia—touched with populism, nativism, racism, and anti-intellectualism—has long been a feature of the fringe, especially during times of economic bewilderment. What is different now is the evolution of a new political organism, with paranoia as its animating principle. The town-meeting shouters may be the organism’s hands and feet, but its heart—also, Heaven help us, its brain—is a “conservative” media alliance built around talk radio and cable television, especially Fox News. The protesters do not look to politicians for leadership. They look to niche media figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and their scores of clones behind local and national microphones. Because these figures have no responsibilities, they cannot disappoint.