Why, these wingnuts are practicing Nixon's "madman theory" of politics

In other words, it’s a pity Barack Obama isn’t more like Richard Nixon. I think of Nixon every year around now, as another anniversary of his resignation (Tuesday the 9th) rolls around. President Nixon famously tried convincing the Communists that he might literally go nuclear if they didn’t behave. “I call it the Madman Theory,” he explained to his chief of staff. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe that I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war.”

Of course, a lot of us swooned over Obama partly because he seemed so prudent, straightforward and even-keeled. But now, with Republicans spectacularly applying the Madman Theory for the first time in domestic politics, Obama’s nonconfrontational reasonableness isn’t looking like such a virtue…

My late mother, who voted for every Republican presidential candidate from Wendell Willkie through George H.W. Bush, became a Democrat in her 70s. “These black hats,” she said of the G.O.P. right, “have gotten as nutty as fruitcakes. Nothing they say shocks me anymore.” She voted five times for Nixon, whose Madman Theory was a tactical posturing to make the Communists think he was an unhinged, reckless fanatic itching to wreak havoc. But a national Republican Party dominated by actually unhinged, reckless fanatics itching to wreak havoc in America? I think that would’ve shocked her. I think it probably would’ve even shocked Nixon.