Erick Erickson’s gaffe

Why does he support Rick Perry? Because “we hate the same people.” The Tea Party-dominated GOP isn’t a normal political party; it’s a hate group.

Michael Kinsley defined a “gaffe” in politics as a moment when the candidate inadvertently tells the truth. I suppose the same rule applies to punditry. Leading wingnut blogger Erick Erickson, in a long reflection on Newt Gingrich’s marital infidelities and political apostasies, gives a plug to Rick Perry. Its terms tell you all you need to know about the enemies of reason and liberty now falsely calling themselves “conservatives”:

I hope for a Perry rebound. He’s on his first wife still and has the most consistent record of conservative policies. And we hate the same people and institutions. We have the same general world view. [Emphasis added.]

For Erickson and his ilk, having “the same general world view” doesn’t mean sharing goals or principles; it means sharing hatreds.  What binds the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party together is the same thing that binds al Qaeda or the FARC or the IRA: hatred.

I’m not among those who want progressives to emulate the right wing’s capacity to play on hatred, or its capacity for lying and cheating. But we need to know that we confront, not a normal political party, but a hate group.

Hate them back? Why reduce yourself to their level? Don’t get mad. Get even.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

45 thoughts on “Erick Erickson’s gaffe”

  1. Oh, please, you’re really going to pretend that hatred of one’s opponents isn’t at least equally common on the left? Really? Coming from Mr. “Teahadi” that’s funny.

    1. You have a bit of a point (although the ad hominem on Mark ain’t right).

      But replace the word “hatred” with “resentment”, and I think Mark’s point holds up pretty well. Wingnuts are united in resenting the same people and institutions, albeit for different reasons. Many liberals may despise wingnuts, but they don’t resent them.

    2. “Teahadi” isn’t hatred, it’s a play on words. A joke, like Limbaugh uses every day to the usual chorus of dittos. Feminazi, for instance. If that’s the best you can do you haven’t even come close to demonstrating “hatred of one’s opponents [that is] at least equally common on the left”. Really.

      “2nd amendment solution”, what’s that? It certainly isn’t funny. I’ve noticed that it isn’t Republicans that are getting shot in the face these days, it’s their enemies like an abortion doctor or a Democrat House Rep. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve got to go back several decades to find an example of that depth of hatred of the right by the left.

    3. Brett, you have as much metaphysical certitude of the hatred on the left as you have of Obama possibly not being born in the US. Were you physically in the mind of a leftist? Otherwise, I assume you can be only as sure as you are about a birth event when you weren’t physically in the OR, right?

  2. Yes, because the Tea Party types are driven by a demonization of the one percent of society that they seek to define and dehumanize as an other, and we never see that on the Left.

    Attack Ericks on all you want, but making such broad generalizations about a broad swath of people based on one idiot’s comments is really beneath you.


    1. “Yes, because the Tea Party types are driven by a demonization of the one percent of society that they seek to define and dehumanize as an other, and we never see that on the Left.”

      Jonathan, please go get somebody who’s not a glibertarian law-and-economics hack to explain the economic and political history of the USA for the past couple of decades to you.

    2. Wow.

      Even formerly reasonable rightish people seem to be hating on the protestors.

      I think that means we’re doing something right.

      Hint to Jonathan: come to an occupation, and talk. Sure, you can probably find someone who spouts exactly what you say. But approximately 99% of the occupiers are reasonable people, making clear, if differing, complaints. You don’t have to agree with any of them, but if you want to consider yourself a reasonable person, you should at least listen.

      If you were annoyed by people hi lighting the random nuts the AFP trucked in brandishing guns at political events, then you should also be annoyed by those on your team dehumanizing people protesting the increasingly stratified society we have. Again: you don’t have to agree that Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit, but you really should listen.

  3. One idiots comments?

    This guy is an influential force in the Republican Party. Please show us a prominent liberal journalist, blogger or politician who openly talks about the people and institutions he hates.

    And the tripe above about “demonization of the one percent” doesn’t count since no one is demonizing the poor babies. You want to hear demonization, try being a welfare recipient or illegal alien.

    1. Michelle Malkin did a whole book of that sort of stuff, “Unhinged,” and it was just as shallow as the analysis above. I shrug when this sort of argument is perpetuated by a columnist trying to sell books, but I expect more from Prof. Kleiman.


      1. You’re quoting Michelle Malkin as a source?

        And to make it funnier, you’re using her to show the hated of the left.

        Wow, that’s funny.

        Do you use that level of argumentation in your day job?

      2. Well, it’s nice to be reminded of why block posts from everyone at VC except Prof. Volokh and Prof. Kerr. Sheesh. Michelle Malkin? Really?

  4. It’s what the candidates (and elected officials to boot) say to demonize gays that bothers me most. Michele Bachmann would try to take us back to the days when homosexuality was deemed a mental illness if she was in charge. This is the sort of hatred the Republican Party is perpetuating, and it’s wrong.

    1. Michele Bachmann would try to take us back to the days when homosexuality was deemed evidence of demonic possession and worthy of burning at the stake. Were I gay, I’d go back in the closet for the duration of her administration.

  5. I think Mark’s comment is fair. The equivalent on the left would be a hatred of equal profundity. This used to exist; it was a communist hatred of business and private property. Sure, you can find some on the left who still cling to that naive utopianism. But there is nothing on the left like the widespread, mainstream hatred among contemporary conservatives of government institutions, academia, and mainstream news. The current left far and away embraces business, even corporations, albeit as institutions that aren’t above consideration of external impacts and thus candidates for regulation and other specific constraints. Instead of demagoguing business, it emphasizes the ways in which it needs to be held accountable.

    If conservatism would emphasize its critiques of government over-reach, rather than make silly, hubristic proclamations about government being evil and inherently corrupt, that markets will solve all our problems, taxation being stealing, etc., Mark’s point would be invalidated. The critiques could also be taken more seriously, and compromise could be more readily achieved. But Erikson is merely one voice in a grand chorus of what sounds like petulant crankery.

  6. Please show us a prominent liberal journalist, blogger or politician who openly talks about the people and institutions he hates.

    I dunno if any have stated it that nakedly, but Glenn Greenwald, for example, routinely accuses Bush and others of advocating and approving torture, for instance. The claim is routinely made on the left that Bush started a needless war in Iraq, ran the economy into the ground, and instigated gross violations of civil liberties. Some people are even saying that Bush fired U.S. attorneys who didn’t pursue political-based prosecutions.

    That’s pretty nasty stuff, and it wouldn’t be any more nasty if they used the word “hate” to describe their opinions. Yet, somehow, unlike Brett, I think liberals are different from conservatives in this respect. How can I possibly think that?

    1. Glenn Greenwald is a harsh critic of Obama also – not just a Bush Hater.
      And it is true that Bush started a needless war in Iraq, not sure how that counts as hatred.

      1. “needless” is subjective, evaluative language that cannot be proven as a truth-claim. So no, it is not true that
        Bush started a needless war in Iraq because we can’t all agree on what “needless” is.

        1. Quibble. What you can consider is that the explicitly-stated reasons for the war turned out to be false and evidence manufactured.

        2. That Bux cannot agree with normal people that his party’s war on Iraq was needless will not, I think, weigh heavily on the analysis of anybody whose opinions are worth listening to.

    2. Ummm, let’s see. Is waterboarding a prisoner torture? or is it enhanced interrogation? Is standing someone naked in a freezing cell with the lights on 24 hours a day torture or enhanced interrogation.

      Were there weapons of mass destruction of any form or type found in Iraq? Did the Bush Administration lie to Congress about its intended use of the AUMF? Did the Bush Administration lie to the rest of the UN Security Council?

      Does the so-called PATRIOT Act authorize all manner of violations of civil liberties? Things like warrant-less wiretaps for an extended period? Things like warrant-less searches of personal property? And how did these laws come into being?

      Does the name David Iglesias mean anything to you?

      Did Bush ever say, “If this were a dictatorship it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator”?

      I’ll give you “… ran the economy into the ground,” only because Presidents get too much credit/responsibility for what happens in the economy. But I’m going to ask you to accept that Bush was at least complicit in that result.

      So, explain to me where Greenwald is wrong about any of those things, except (and then partially correct, depending on how you want to argue the matter) the economy?

      1. I didn’t say or imply that Greenwald was wrong. I think the liberal critics of Bush (and Obama) are largely correct. Moreover, when liberals use phrases like “despicable” or “contemptible” to describe Bush or Cheney or other Republicans or their policies, I think they’re often right to do so.

        As I said, however, liberals are different from conservatives in this respect. Stated simply: They tend to aim their contempt at deserving targets.

        1. I think there is something more to it than this. Liberals and progressives almost always TRY to be truthful. We give what we see as truth a spin of course, but we generally try. The contemporary right rarely tries any more. Facts are evaluated as ammunition and rejected when not useful. I am reminded of Romney’s quoting Obama on McCain as representing Obama’s thoughts.Or the editing if tapes by Faux, O’Keefe is another example.

          Or consider what is almost a formula for how right wingers engage in online discussions when a concrete issue arises. That try and shift the debate so that the initial issue falls from sight. They attack the source’s character. They do just about anything to avoid coming to grips with the orifginal issue. I have seen this behavior on this site.

          It’s a nihilistic contempt for truth when truth complicates the effort to wield power. To do this one must have hatred, contempt, or some other pretty negative attitude towards those who disagree. It’s a feature, not a flaw.

          The old Communist Party did the same stuff of course – it is not just a right wing disease, but today mostly the right has it.

        2. Contempt is not hatred. When someone is contemptible (or admirable, for that matter) we should be able to lay out the reasoning. I agree, Greenwald holds Bush and Cheney in contempt. He’s laid out the reasoning for his stance.

          I find Bush more an object of pity than contempt (although I also think he’s contemptible). I pity Bush because he seems to lead what Socrates called an unexamined life. He is emotionally stunted, a solipsist, and believes he is not subject to the same rules as others. Contrary to others, I doubt that Bush deliberately set out to wreak destruction on our system of government. I believe he wanted to be what he claimed to be: a compassionate conservative. Sadly, the milk of human kindness is lost to him.

          Richard Cheney is an entirely different story.

    3. I think it’s different to hate Bush, or Nixon, or even Obama, than to hate an entire societal group. I’d feel the hate was justified by the illegal actions of Nixon or Bush, and the horrible effects of those illegal actions, and at least in the case of Bush their relative inexplicability (I still have no idea why we really invaded Iraq, nor why we declared war on an abstract noun). Hating Teh Ghey, or immigrants, or pointy-headed intellectuals, or environmentalists is rather a different proposition – but it is seemingly those hatreds, rather than any positive agenda, that unites much of the Right.

      1. Warren, could I try a variant of what you are saying?

        Both the Left and Right are known to hate (and sometimes even demonize) strong figures on the other side, for reasons both good and bad. (Yes, even the Left sometimes has bad reasons for hating. I think that a lot of Bush-haters, for instance, were surprised by Bush’s punctilious behavior during the transition in 2008-09. I sure was.) The difference between the Right and the Left is that the Right also hates and demonizes weak figures on the other side. Indeed, the Right prefers to attack the weak: gays, poor folk, immigrants, the pigmented, young women, etc. The Left saves its fire for the strong. It would rather attack the NRA than the gun nuts, for instance.

        1. Not sure you are right about this, Ebenezer. People on the left haven’t gone after the NRA much in the last decade, whereas when a raggle-taggle group of crazies like the Hutaree pop up on the radar, there’s quite a bit of gleeful mockery of gun nuts/militia members/ assorted and similar crazies.

          1. Morzer,
            I agree with your illustrations, but I don’t quite agree with your interpretations.

            I said “hate.” The Democrats are laying off the NRA because they’re smart enough to know that the Intermountain West is up for grabs, which requires a certain reticence about gun control. It doesn’t mean they don’t hate the NRA. And yes, the left is not above gleeful mockery, unfortunately. That doesn’t translate to hatred. The left doesn’t blame the Hutaree for all that’s wrong with their world, the way the right blames the international gay welfare Soros dusky woman conspiracy.

            I guess I disagree with a number of the posters here because I don’t have anything against the proper use of hatred. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” may be the mantra of homophobes. But that doesn’t mean it is false.

        2. “I think that a lot of Bush-haters, for instance, were surprised by Bush’s punctilious behavior during the transition in 2008-09. I sure was.) ”

          Considering what Bush and Co. had done to the country, playing games with the keys on WH computers would be silly.

        1. As a way to secure cheap oil for the US, it was an obvious failure. As a way to secure drilling leases for American companies, it has perhaps been successful (I don’t know the numbers) in the short term, but looks rather more dicey in the long term – and the expense was insane for such a purpose.

          Just about the only other argument that hasn’t been falsified and seems at all believable, if utterly insane, was Tom Friedman’s notion that if we didn’t utterly destroy a moderately sized country every so often people would think we were a bunch of sissies.

        2. I know why we invaded Iraq: O’L. It was nationalized, now it’s not.

          Corrected the spelling for you.

    4. Re: the accusation that Bush advocated and approved torture.

      1) It is not an accusation, it is settled fact. By his own admission, the President advocated and approved torture– he just wanted to call it “enhanced interrogation” instead.

      2) Even if not true, an accusation doesn’t mean you hate. Erickson said we hate the same people and institutions. Greenwald doesn’t hate the president, he just wants the honour of the US restored.

    5. Maybe because, I don’t know, they DID advocate and approve torture, and gross violations of civil liberties? That’s not hatred, that’s simply pointing out the obvious.

  7. Rumor has it, after Winston Smith finished his stint in the Ministry of Love, he changed his name to Erick Erickson!

  8. Hate them back? Why reduce yourself to their level? Don’t get mad. Get even.

    Just so.

    Let us focus on that, shall we? I do miss Steve Gilliard articulating one way to do it.

  9. I’m not among those who want progressives to emulate the right wing’s capacity to play on hatred, or its capacity for lying and cheating.
    Just curious. Who are those who want progressives to be hateful liars and cheaters? Can you name anyone prominent, or point to any examples? Or are you just aiming this nebulous slur at those to your left without any basis?

  10. religion differs Left to Right

    The Right thinks the Left isn’t religious; that’s untrue. When I see the Right embracing torture, war, and their overall cruelty to the lessor among us – I don’t see Christianity. Look at the biggest cheers during Republican debates: letting people die in E-room lobbies, electrocuting people at the border, and killing hundreds under one Texas governor.

    There’s a geographical arc from Oklahoma southeast ’til the Carolinas with the highest divorce rate, highest teen pregnancies, STDs, gun deaths, fat people, diabetes, smokers,.poor – especially child poverty, and a complete panoply of social ills. This area is also the most Republican and most religious.

    The Right is an American Taliban, their impositions equivalent to Sharia Law. The Left takes nothing away from anyone except an ability to be openly prejudiced. If your marriage fails because someone else got married – that’s your fault. A free country can’t be run by the Ten Commandments; the first four are divisive, unAmerican, and unenforceable. The others are already covered.
    Simply put, Republicans are Old Testament and Democrats are New Testament, which has rendered the Old Testament to an allegorical status – unless you’re Jewish. There’s no Christians in the Old Testament – none.


    This isn’t a positive letter; rather a lament that the Republican Party has devolved into mindlessness. Their slogan-driven ignorance is damaging America. We need intelligent conversations and decisions to face an ever-changing Future, and Republicans aren’t qualified in their present manifestation.

    Decades roll by and Republicans never learn. The NCTimes ( local paper in right-wing area; prints every 200 word letter – which this and previous comments were ), bless their hearts, won’t let me adequately express my disrespect. I try to divine how a coalescing of profoundly ignorant people happens. No way that there are that many defective people, nor could that be a driving factor in congregation. The answer must be that the objective, the Republican theme and purpose, finds itself in conflict with reality (Google “reality-based bush”), such that facts become the enemy. It must be that being a Republican requires diligence in avoiding facts and knowledge- interferes with the slogans and ideology. .Nothing wrong with the folks; it’s just that their introverted circle-jerk of untruthful hearsay and wishful nonsense isn’t constructive.

    Ronald Reagan couldn’t win a modern Republican primary. Republicans broke this country and advocate for more of the same. Republican policies are immoral and technically wrong. I can’t tell if they are empowered by ignorance or evil – perhaps both? Certainly not neither.

    1. That piece was hilarious, Ed. My head hurts when “elitism” gets thrown around, applied to complex thinking and thoughtfulness.

  12. I find the Left’s attitude toward health insureres, banks, and the Koch brothers to be very similar to the Right’s attitude toward the EPA, the EEOC, and George Soros.

    1. Sam, I think that you are mostly comparing apples and oranges.

      There s the small issue of what the big banks did to our economy and the wealth they have made doing it. The health insurers and their work at denying coverage also have some very concrete sins to be appalled by. These two guys destroyed economies, bankrupted millions, and on the latter case share in the deaths of many.

      I think the Koch brothers have become a symbol and are no where near as bad or as ubiquitous as ‘the left’ claims, and so there you might be making a legitimate comparison. But their relative secrecy compared to Soros excuses a lot of the paranoia. Soros is pretty open and the Koch are not. Both have lots of money they use politically.

      As to EEOC, see what a banker actually involved has to say:

      As to the EPA, this simply demonstrates the irrationality of the right.

      One set of dislikes groups has done genuine and vast damage to millions while helping next to no one but those at the top, the other not.

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