Weapons turned inward
When Paul Krugman complained that the bitter internecine conflict between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton meant that "a large part of the progressive movement seems to have lost its sanity" he must have meant Crazy Like a Fox. It would be more accurate to say that progressive politics has now come to resemble extremist politics. Consider the tactic of plausible deniability.
Plausible deniability refers to informal arrangement through which a person may deny any connection to a disreputable activity he actually orders. The two ends to this clever arrangement are the protected principal and the secret agent acting on the mastermind's behalf. When Geraldine Ferraro said that "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position" only to resign after Hillary Clinton expressed her high-minded indignation, were the two acts unrelated?
Or consider how hijackers and hostages takers get the authorities' attentions by demonstrating their seriousness.
The principle followed by kidnappers in Baghdad who sent five severed fingers belonging to "four Americans and an Austrian taken hostage more than a year ago in Iraq" was that if you want to be taken seriously you have to demonstrate how far you are willing to go in order to get what you want. And although neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton have sent anyone actual severed fingers yet, both have amply shown their astonished supporters that they are willing to ignite race war, tear the Party apart or engage in political cannibalism to serve their own individual ambitions. What's really awesome about Hillary and Barack is not their resumes but the lengths to which they are willing to go.
Plausible deniability. Severed political fingers. These tactics are not a demented application of rational rules but the rational application of the demented rules of left-wing politics. The problem with the axiom "by any means necessary" is that it means "by any means necessary". Neither Hillary nor Barack have lost their sanity. But the rules themselves have been taken to their own inevitable conclusions.
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