24 February 2010

Burn Him!

The GOP's misguided hunt for heretics

The RINO hunt is back on, and the coveted trophy is Scott Brown.

It's the purity test all over again; only this time, the stakes are high and the weird are turning seriously pro. Not that the tea partiers are weird, not most of them, anyway. But some are at risk of flying off into the blood-red zone of wing-nuttery.

These true conservatives and RINO-hunters are, to put it mildly, a problem for any candidate or incumbent who tries to speak bipartisan, which translates into "treason."

The hunt for RINOs isn't new. Ask John McCain. Or John Avlon, author of the new book "Wingnuts," who traces the mainstreaming of the hyperpartisan hunt for heretics to the George W. Bush administration.

Writes Avlon: "Hunting for heretics pretends to be a principled fight for ideological purity, but behind that mask is an uglier impulse, an attempt to intimidate and insist on conformity . . . a reminder of what the Czech dissident-turned-president Václav Havel once wrote:

'Ideology offers human beings the illusion of dignity and morals while making it easier to part with them.' "

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