"This is why I have very mixed feelings about the protests of conservatives such as David Frum or Andrew Sullivan that the conservative movement has been supposedly 'hijacked' by extremists and crazies. On the one hand, this is true. But when was it different? Rush Limbaugh didn't just magically appear in the last twelve months. He - along with people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol and Jesse Helms - have been leaders of that party for decades. Republicans spent the 1990s wallowing in Ken Starr's sex report, 'Angry White Male' militias, black U.N. helicopters, Vince Foster's murder, Clinton's Mena drug runway, Monica's semen-stained dress, Hillary's lesbianism, 'wag the dog' theories, and all sorts of efforts to personally humiliate Clinton and destroy the legitimacy of his presidency using the most paranoid, reality-detached, and scurrilous attacks. And the crazed conspiracy-mongers in that movement became even more prominent during the Bush years. Frum himself - now parading around as the Serious Adult conservative - wrote, along with uber-extremist Richard Perle, one of the most deranged and reality-detached books of the last two decades, and before that, celebrated George W. Bush, his former boss, as 'The Right Man.'
"It's also why I am extremely unpersuaded by the prevailing media narrative that the Right is suddenly enthralled to its rambunctions and extremist elements and is treating Obama in some sort of unique or unprecedented way. Other than the fact that Obama's race intensifies the hatred in some precincts, nothing that the Right is doing now is new. This is who they are and what they do - and that's been true for many years, for decades. Even the allegedly 'unprecedented' behavior at Obama's speech isn't really unprecedented; although nobody yelled 'you lie,' Republicans routinely booed and heckled Clinton when he spoke to Congress because they didn't think he was legitimately the President (only for Ted Koppel to claim that it was something 'no one at this table has ever heard before' when Democrats, in 2005, booed Bush's Social Security privatization proposal during a speech to Congress).
"This is why so many people were so skeptical of the heartfelt belief among many Obama supporters that he was going to usher in some sort of new, harmonious 'post-partisan' age. The long-standing and well-established nature of the American Right would never permit such a transformation."