Republican Gomorrah: The Shattered GOP, Taken Over by Authoritarian Radicals, Is Incapable of Compromise
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Terry Gross: ... The right is trying to de-legitimize the Obama presidency, according to my guest, journalist Max Blumenthal. There's the movement of people who claim Obama isn't even an American citizen, and others who accuse him of being a Hitler or a Stalin. In Blumenthal's new book, "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party," he writes that the Republican Party has gone from a big-tent philosophy to being fully in the grip of its right wing. Blumenthal has been covering the Christian right for six years, attending dozens of its rallies and conferences, listening to its radio programs, and sitting in movement-oriented houses of worship.
In his book "Republican Gomorrah," he writes about the people who created the blueprint for the Christian right and the people who have funded it. Blumenthal is a senior writer for the Daily Beast, and has written for the Nation and the Huffington Post.
Max Blumenthal, welcome back to Fresh Air. Your book ends with a scene of Republican congressman Paul Brown of Georgia and two of his friends who are very highly placed in the anti-abortion movement, praying over a door that Obama was about to walk through to take the oath of office. What were they praying about? Set that scene for us.
Max Blumenthal: Well, Paul Brown, who is a congressman from Georgia -he's a born-again congressman who said that he was inspired to become an vangelical Christian by the guy who used to hold "John 3:16" signs in sports games, who wore a multicolored wig, who's actually in prison now for kidnapping and stink-bomb attacks - that this image of this character at sports games inspired him to become a born-again Christian.
And he gave special access to two characters, Paul Mahoney and Rob Schenck, who were involved in Operation Rescue during the 1990s, which is the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement, which was at least indirectly connected to several assassinations of abortion providers and attacks on abortion clinics, most recently the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas.
What they were doing there in the Capitol was, they were planning to anoint the door that Obama would walk through, as he prepared to give his inaugural address, with oil crosses. And the reason that I described this scene and thought that it was important was that it was emblematic of where the movement was going to go, that they were consecrating their planned opposition to the Obama administration at a time when the media and probably the Obama administration believed that they had the good will of even elements that had opposed Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and that this was a new, post-partisan era. And I think that this anointing of the door was symbolic of what was to come. And I think it's bearing out right now in the health-care debate.
Gross: One of the things Paul Brown has done is to compare Obama to Hitler and Stalin, and he said on his Web site that he was concerned that Obama has a vision that is fundamentally different from the system of limited federal government that our founders established, that he will attempt to destroy the free-enterprise, free-market economic system which has made us the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.
We're hearing a lot about comparisons between Obama and Hitler and Stalin lately. What do you think is behind that?