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The National Security Dangers of Demagoguery

Over the past several days, ever since Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) started warning about “pro-American” parts of the country and “anti-American” liberals in Congress, conservatives have acquired a new alibi in the event Sen. John McCain loses in November — internal subversion by shadowy forces with dubious allegiances to the country. Never mind that they’re talking about tens of millions of their fellow Americans here. We’re rapidly falling to new lows every time it seems we’ve hit the basement.

Consider Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.). Over at dKos, diarist The Southern Dem has a good rundown of this joker: He’s caught on tape telling a McCain rally that “liberals hate real Americans.” Yet Hayes spokeswoman Amanda Little insisted that her boss never said such a thing. That’s bad enough. But my beef with Hayes comes from his longstanding record of distorting national security issues.

In 2005, he insisted to CNN that Saddam Hussein was “very much involved in 9/11,” which is 180 degrees from the truth. When challenged, he told CNN that “you must have looked in the wrong places,” suggesting that he enjoys a media diet of Jeff Goldberg, Steve Hayes and other such incompetents or liars. Did I mention Hayes sits on a House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism?

But this is even worse. In December 2006, Hayes told a North Carolina paper that “stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. … Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the savior.” (h/t BlueNC for that one.) Think for a second how dangerous it is if Iraqis view U.S. troops as occupying their country in order to convert them to Christianity.

Everyone: please catch your breath. The campaign brings out a lot of heat in everyone. But there’s a really ugly strain of conservatism that’s increasingly identifying authentic “Americanism” in the narrowest and most blinkered possible way. Doing so denies us of a national-security tool: the openness that allows people who didn’t grow up here to identify with us. It’s not a resource that has to be perishable. But the right is taking away something that they’ll miss when it’s gone.

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