As National Review editor in 1962, William F. Buckley Jr. struck a blow for reason and truth when he effectively excommunicated John Birch Society founder Robert Welch from the conservative movement.
Welch had been telling anybody who would listen that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Welch further claimed that the government of the United States was “under operational control of the Communist Party.”
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 National Review piece that the conservative movement could not be credible as 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 — it’s just 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 “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 Halliburton. Then the left decided the real power behind conservative success was Richard Scaife. But Scaife had a much-publicized change of mind regarding Clinton and the search was on for a new dastardly right-wing arch villain.
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.
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 Republican is a Koch puppet. They never explain how a politician who has received more than $9.7 million in political contributions since 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.”
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog on www.washingtonexaminer.com.