Welch had for a decade been telling anybody who would listen that President Eisenhower was a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy."
And, as if it wasn't bad enough that the man who led allied forces to victory in Europe in World War II was a communist, Welch further claimed that the government of the United States was "under operational control of the Communist party." He even got specific about it, saying the government was "50-70 percent" communist-controlled.
Welch based his ludicrous assertions on what Buckley called the fallacious assumption "that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: We lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists."
Welch and the Birchers were finished after Buckley wrote in a classic NR piece that the conservative movement could not be credible so long as it was associated with Welch, or anybody else for that matter whose views were "so far removed from common sense."
The Birchers went away, but the paranoia that gives rise to political lunacy is still with us, but it's mostly switched sides from the fever swamps of the Right to the fever swamps of the Left. I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton's famous "vast right-wing conspiracy," but rather those on the Left who see evil right-wing industrialists behind every conservative political bush.
A few years ago, it was Dick Cheney when he headed the Halliburton Company. Then the fevered Left decided the real power behind conservative success was Richard Scaife. But then Scaife had a much publicized change of mind regarding Clinton and the search was on for a new dastardly right-wing archvillain.
The search is over, for now anyway, because the paranoid Left has decided the real evil genius on the Right is named Koch. Actually, that would be "geniuses," as in Charles and David Koch. For decades, these two have been funding libertarian-oriented causes, candidates and organizations. David even ran for vice president once, on the Libertarian Party ticket.
But in recent months we have begun to hear "Koch whore" chanted at every turn by leftist bloggers, think tankers and political activists.
Typical is this from a fundraising e-mail circulated yesterday by Faiz Shakir of the Center for American Progress: "Before most of the general public knew who they were, we were exposing the Kochs as the architects of the Tea Party movement in early 2009. We revealed their culpability for severe air pollution and, most recently, catalogued their union-busting efforts in Wisconsin."
The paranoid left has made much of the Koch Political Action Committee's $43,000 donation to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, saying that money proves the Badger State GOPer is a Koch puppet. They never explain how a politician who, according to MAPLight.org has received more than $9.7 million in political contributions since entering politics in 1993 could now be swayed by a contribution that represents 0.004 percent of his total career funding.
Thus is illustrated what Buckley meant by views being "so far removed from common sense."
The stereotypical conspiracy theorist, of course, is Welch, thanks to decades of mainstream media agitprop. That's ironic considering Saul Alinsky's Rule 12: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." With that maxim, Alinsky unhinged the Left by turning political paranoia into a strategic necessity.
Is there a liberal editor today willing to do for the Left what conservative Buckley did decades ago for the Right?
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's CopyDesk blog on washingtonexaminer.com