Can you remember a time when Republicans didn’t act foam-at-the-mouth radio host crazy? Paul Waldman makes a good point writing at the Washington Post: GOP crazy is now the norm:
The victim of this morning’s pile-on is Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who was asked in an editorial board meeting whether she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Grimes hemmed and hawed a bit, obviously scared to say Yes. That isn’t too surprising — when you run as a Democrat in a red state (just as when you run as a Republican in a blue state), you spend a lot of your time explaining why you aren’t like the national party and its leaders. But some people are outraged, including Chuck Todd, who said on Morning Joe (with a look of profound disgust): “Is she ever going to answer a tough question on anything?…I think she disqualified herself. I really do, I think she disqualified herself.”
No question, Grimes botched this badly, and she should be able to answer a question as simple as this one. But this affair gets at the odd set of unspoken rules that dictate what gets designated a “gaffe” or a serious mistake, and what doesn’t.
The problem isn’t that one party gets treated more harshly than the other does. There are plenty of Republican candidates who have gotten pummeled for their “gaffes.” Rather, the problem is the standard that reporters use, probably unconsciously, to decide which gaffes are worthy of extended discussion and which ones merit only a passing mention, a standard that often lets GOP candidates get away with some appalling stuff.
For instance, when Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst flirted with the “Agenda 21″ conspiracy theory — a favorite of Glenn Beck, in which the U.S. government and the United Nations are supposedly conspiring to force rural people in Iowa and elsewhere to leave their homes and be relocated to urban centers — national pundits didn’t see it as disqualifying. Nor did they when it was revealed that Ernst believes not only that states can “nullify” federal laws they don’t like (they can’t); and, even crazier, that local sheriffs ought to arrest federal officials implementing the Affordable Care Act, which is quite literally a call for insurrection against the federal government. I guess those are just colorful ideas…
[continues at the Washington Post]