It's amazing what losing an election can do to a politician's integrity. South Carolina 4th District Rep. Bob Inglis got the boot by voters in the GOP primary in June.
Once regarded as the most conservative member of the S.C. congressional delegation and one of the most conservative members of Congress, with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 93 percent, Inglis will soon be unemployed. Upstate Republicans decided they had seen enough of the 12-year veteran and turned him out in favor of Tea Party favorite Trey Gowdy in an overwhelming 79-21 percent vote.
Inglis is only the latest victim of Teabagger rage and paranoia, the first being reason itself.
In a revealing online story in Mother Jones last week, Inglis talked about the Tea Party with the freedom of a man who has nothing left to lose — and perhaps the bitterness of a man who has lost everything. Most importantly, he was warning Republicans that they were being led astray, and there would be a high price to pay if the Teabaggers were allowed to take over the party.
But, in fact, he said that the Tea Party was already influencing national GOP policy and rhetoric by falsely calling President Obama a socialist, raising questions about his birthplace, and claiming that his healthcare overhaul would create "death panels." He denounced GOP leaders for maintaining that the Community Reinvestment Act was a major factor in the financial meltdown.
"CRA has been around for decades," Inglis said. "How could it suddenly create this problem? You see how that has other things worked into it?" He suggested that racism was one of those "other things."
Throughout the primary campaign, Teabaggers kept urging him to call Obama a socialist, but he refused. "It's a dangerous strategy to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible ... This guy is no socialist."
Why has the right wing so demonized the issues of climate change and clean energy? Inglis said it is mostly theological. Many conservatives insist that any issue affecting the Earth is "the province of God and will not be affected by human activity." He added, "If you talk about the challenge of sustainability of the Earth's systems, it's an affront to that theological view."
When asked about Sarah Palin, he says, "I think that there are people who seem to think that ignorance is strength," adding that it is irresponsible for a politician "to remain ignorant and uninformed and encourage people to follow me while I celebrate my lack of information."
Inglis also said that Fox News, Limbaugh, and the rest are directing the stampede to the right. "We're being driven as a herd by these hot microphones — which are like flame throwers — that are causing people to run with fear and panic, and Republican members of Congress are afraid of being run over by that stampeding crowd."
Republicans in Congress seem unable to "summon the courage" to say no to the right-wing broadcasters and Tea Partiers, Inglis said. "When we start just delivering rhetoric and more misinformation ... we're failing the conservative movement. We're failing the country." Yet, Republican leaders in the House have one primary plan: play to the Tea Party crowd. "It's a dangerous strategy to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible," he said.
On the day the Mother Jones story was posted, the Greenville County Republican Party passed a resolution of "rebuke" against Sen. Lindsey Graham, denouncing him for voting for two of Obama's Supreme Court nominees, supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. Oddly enough, Graham has a 90 percent rating with the ACU.
The Greenville County rebuke also mentioned that "Sen. Graham has repeatedly demonstrated contempt and arrogance towards those members of the Republican Party who support" the Tea Party movement. Presumably, this was a reference to Graham's recent comments in which he said that the Tea Party was "unsustainable," "not coherent," and "will die out."
Teabaggers are now firmly in control of much of the state GOP and gaining control of the national Republican Party. There is no question Tea Partiers will triumph this fall in the 4th District, but nationally they are painting the GOP into a corner.
Bob Inglis has another useful metaphor to describe the GOP pursuit of the Tea Party, telling Mother Jones that the Republican Party is "going to be the dog that catches the car." He added, "And the Democrats, if they go into the minority, are going to have an enjoyable couple of years watching that dog deal with the car it's caught."
Republicans think they are drinking sweet tea, but they are actually drinking Kool-Aid. I would like to buy them another round.
See Will Moredock's blog at charlestoncitypaper.com/blogs/thegoodfight.