Meet Erick Erickson, the Toxic Idiot Guiding House Republicans on the Debt Ceiling Fight
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We're still hurtling toward economic disaster as House Republicans refuse to sign onto a debt ceiling deal that falls well to the right of what even GOP voters say they want. Given the stakes, it's hard to understand why would they walk away from a package of deep cuts without new tax revenues – a deal they could have only dreamed of getting a few short months ago.
The simplest explanation is that they're terrified of their Tea Party base, and aren't eager to be primaried from the right by some deep-pocketed neanderthal. But it's also about beating Obama next year. Donald Trump articulated the prevailing wisdom in GOP circles this week, telling Fox News, "When it comes time to default, they're not going to remember any of the Republicans' names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that's Obama."
It has to be one of the dumbest claims made in recent weeks. According to the latest CNN poll, 52 percent of the public think Obama has “acted responsibly” on the debt ceiling, compared to just 33 percent who say the same of the GOP ( PDF). And a new Rasmussen poll finds that just 6 percent of likely voters approve of Congress' performance -- a record low.
Where did such an ahistoric reading of American politics comes from? According to Erick Erickson, a notably dense but highly influential right-wing blogger – and no doubt the only regular CNN contributor to have called a sitting Supreme Court Justice a “goat fucking child molester” – it was none other than Erickson himself.
Erickson boasted on Twitter that a post he wrote was being passed around by GOP members of the House, who, again according to Erickson, were giving it plenty of credence. In an “open letter” to Congressional Republicans he wrote, “despite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards...Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the 'Obama Depression.' Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.”
At first blush, it may come as a shock to see someone so brazenly putting the good of a political party above that of the country. But Erickson has carved out a place for himself in conservative circles by rigorously policing Republicans' ideological purity. As a 2008 Newsweek profile put it, “the party's right wing tends to distrust anyone who's too comfortable inside the Beltway, which is partly why Erickson ...has built such a following.” And he uses that following well – Newsweek notes he “has grabbed his party's power brokers by their elephant-stitched suspenders.” His star has only risen since then with the ascent of the Tea Partiers.
Erickson's an excellent self-promoter, and may be exaggerating his influence to some degree. But to whatever extent Republicans in Congress are in fact listening to him, it should be deeply troubling. Because whatever else he may be, Erickson's trademark is being wrong. And not just wrong as in "not entirely right" – if there were an Olympics or a World Cup of wrongness, other countries, eying his complete domination of the field, wouldn't even bother to compete. And it's not just his wildly wrong political analysis – he also brings habitual sexism, simmering racial animosities and love of violent political rhetoric to the table. This guy has quite the track record.
Skeptical that someone so wrong could end up an influential talking head on CNN? Well, let's look at a few of his greatest hits.