Columnist Paul Krugman, an economics columnist turned left-wing-talking-point purveyor,directed his preening, self-conscious writing style to the anti-spending tea parties in a column Monday, "Tea Parties Forever," that was even more hysterical than usual,which pondered whethermaking fun of the conservative protests was like making fun of the mentally ill.
This is a column about Republicans - and I'm not sure I should even be writing it.
Today's G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.
Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn't feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.
But here's the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn't stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation's two great political parties.
Does it "behoove" us, now?
He linked radio host Rush Limbaugh, without evidence, to unsubstantiated claims from some on the far right during the Clinton years that the Clintons were murderers.
It's perhaps not fair to blame Krugman for this, because the renowned economist is simply parroting whatever the DailyKos or other left-wing blogs are saying.
Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn't born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff - but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.
Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials.
Krugman concluded with liberal myths about the Republican riot in 2000 "orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists - that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida's Miami-Dade County."