Last week, I noted yet another bad case of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS): in the run-up to the SCHIP veto override vote, California Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark declared that we're sending troops to Iraq "to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement" and that "Bush just likes to blow things up."
A couple of days ago, under pressure from his own party and facing censure for violating House rules, Stark apologized. That greatly upset the anti-war crowd, including at least some libertarian elements. Megan McArdle noted that "anti-war libertarian flirtation with the Democratic party may be even shorter than I expected," to which commenter Paul Zrimsek replied wickedly:
There's literally dozens of votes down the drain. And all to appease maybe a few million people who believe Congressmen shouldn't behave like jerks.
McArdle's post linked to an angry rant by Jim Henley at the libertarian Unqualified Offerings (emphasis added):
Here’s the thing to realize: Pete Stark is a powerful guy. I won’t argue that he’s one of the Secret Masters of the World or anything, but California’s most senior Congressman, ranking member on some powerful committees, has a lot more status and access than you or I do.
And his own party leadership joined their supposed minority opposition in rolling Pete Stark in his own shit. The message is clear. Whatever you want to call it – The War Party, the Beltway Consensus, the institutional structure of contemporary American politics, the Movement, whatever – will not brook consequential dissent. Individual congressmen aren’t that consequential, but they matter a lot more than anyone blogging.
“There are five thousand people in the world,” Mr. Van Arkady told Lauren Slaughter. The rest of the story is devoted to her discovery that she is not one of them. The last thing he tells her is, “You can still be killed.” Pete Stark probably isn’t one of the five thousand either. But he knows some of them. He’s too close to get away with loose talk. And he can still be killed, though it rarely comes to that, because it doesn’t have to.
If you like that over-the-top expression of BDS, check out some of the 100 or so comments, including this gem from co-blogger Thoreau:
So what’s in the file that they showed him? Dead girl? Live boy? Or is it just surveillance footage of his family, followed by statistics on brake failures in the model car that his kid drives? Or a document showing some problems on a tax return, followed by data on prison rape?
These people are not just deranged, they're remarkably stupid, too. Why would the Republicans coerce Stark into apologizing? Crazed, offensive remarks like that by your opponents are a gift that keeps on giving — for fundraising, motivating your base, putting other Democrats on the spot, … Republicans were probably hoping that Stark would make more such outrageous statements.
Later, after feeling the wrath of McArdle's "minions," Thoreau (and then Henley) walked it back a bit, acknowledging that Stark's apology wasn't necessarily coerced by Republican physical threats or blackmail (heck, it could have been Democratic threats or blackmail — they're all part of the same "ruling consensus"). But in acknowledging that he may have been "too paranoid," Thoreau tossed off the phrase "if both parties view it as beyond the pale to call the Emperor for what he is" — thus asserting that Stark was "speaking truth to power" when he claimed that soldiers die and things are blown up for Bush's amusement.
If that's not a serious outbreak of BDS, I don't know what is. I don't even want to venture into the comments accompanying those two newer posts.
I can certainly sympathize with the plight of Stephen Green, who tore up his Libertarian Party membership card without finding anything with which to replace it.