I am trying to decide what the creepiest thing about this video is (via Ben Smith).

  • The way in which Barber blithely equates taxation to pay for social welfare programs with slavery.
  • Zombie Abraham Lincoln.
  • The juxtaposition of standard-issue Tea Party ranting about taxation and liberty with PHOTOS OF AUSCHWITZ HOLY SHIT.
  • The David Lynch-esque musical interlude.
  • The militia of well-armed aryans, plus a lone black guy in the front row to prove that this isn’t, like, a race war or anything.
  • The fact that the ad ends with Barber taking a jab at Glenn Beck for being insufficiently crazy.

See, this is what I talk about when I fret over the corrosion of any kind of basic national consensus in this country. The public and its elected representatives don’t need to agree on everything—in fact, it’s better if we have substantive disagreements on a lot of things—but at the very least we should be able to agree that there’s no moral equivalence between the modest health care reform and, say, the Holocaust. Because, remember, the general consensus is that armed insurrection directed towards the goal of preventing or ending the Holocaust is morally permissible. And if a small but politically significant chunk of the electorate believes the same thing applies to incremental expansions of the welfare state, well, that’s a problem.

An even bigger problem is that I think Barber is actually sincere, and not just irresponsibly stoking populist rage to further his own advancement. Contrast that with a man who like Nixon, who was fundamentally sociopathic in the lengths he was willing to go to further his career, but also sufficiently cognizant of reality to be an effective manager. What he failed to account for—and this is perhaps among his biggest sins—is that the people to whom he was serving cups of kool-aid would eventually run for office themselves.

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