An Inclusive Litany


Bill Keller wrote a column in January for the New York Times hailing the departure of three lame-duck Republican senators, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and Phil Gramm. According to Keller, the three "harnessed their collective century of seniority to the Taliban wing of the America right."

Prior to September 11, the term was used far more extensively. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift warned of the "Taliban wing... who are willing to sit in a cold firehouse all weekend to make sure they get their person on the school board." The Boston Globe's David Warsh used the label to apply to most of the GOP's social conservatives as well as its economic libertarians. Along the same lines, Dana Milbank in the New Republic warned of "Jihad Republicans" in Congress who would lead the country toward "military theocracy."

And in a speech to the NAACP's annual convention soon after President Bush took office, chairman Julian Bond said: "Instead of uniting us, the new administration almost daily separates and divides. They selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing and chose Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."

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