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Paul, Angle Reflect Republican Extremism

It’s only June, and yet two of the standard-bearers of the Tea Party are already showing what kind of right-wing conservatism that movement is all about. Party leaders have tried to sequester Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, but that won’t last long. In fact, in a local interview yesterday, Angle made the mistake of opening her mouth and allowing her true feelings to come out.

ANGLE: You can make more money on unemployment then you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but doesn’t pay as much. And so that’s what’s happened to us is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said “you don’t want the jobs that are available.”

This isn’t true on a number of levels – unemployment benefits are barely above the poverty level, the mythical “available jobs Americans won’t take” don’t exist. But it’s the word “spoiled” – spoiled jobless people – that resonates. Because that’s the real belief, that people without a job trying to find away to keep themselves off the street are “lucky duckies.” I’m sure she believes that, as do a subsection of the conservative base. Those are the kind of sentiments that politicians on the right usually don’t like to reveal. Angle just did.

As for Rand Paul, he’ll be spending the fall campaign in a secure, undisclosed location. But he doesn’t need to grant interviews to have a full complement of outside-the-mainstream viewpoints. The Louisville Courier-Journal examined the paper trail and found a long list of statements:

A Courier-Journal review of two-dozen public appearances by the Bowling Green eye surgeon since 1998 shows that Paul has condemned Medicare as “socialism;” denounced seat-belt and anti-smoking laws as “Nanny-state” paternalism; called for voluntary, rather than mandatory, accommodation of people with disabilities; and suggested using satellites to monitor America’s borders for illegal immigrants.

Zealously advocating for free-market economics, he also has criticized private health insurance, saying it keeps patents from negotiating lower prices with their doctors.

“We need to get insurance of out of the way and let the consumer interact with their doctor the way they did basically before World War II,” he said on Kentucky Educational Television’s Kentucky Tonight on Dec. 2, 2002.

This is basically the “chickens for checkups” approach that sunk Sue Lowden in Nevada.

I know, I know, Paul is supposedly “with us” on the military budget and civil liberties. They happen to be among the only statements he’s walked away from.

Whether Angle and Paul emerge victorious or not, they represent the success of the far-right conservative takeover of the Republican Party. Institutionally speaking, it has become almost essential to line up behind the viewpoints of a Paul or an Angle. Progressives have not had the same kind of success in the Democratic Party (though Elaine Marshall’s victory last night over the DSCC-backed candidate was nice). It’s worth admiring the commitment of the conservative base to transform a major political party, if not the content.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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