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Some fear GOP is being carried to the extreme

The Republican establishment hopes cooler heads will prevail over strongly anti-Obama parts of the conservative base.

September 14, 2009|Peter Wallsten

One WorldNetDaily article, which Henke called "hideously embarrassing" to conservatives, said that a Democratic proposal to create civilian emergency centers at military installations "appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany."

Henke said, "There is a substantial discomfort among the people who want to make intellectual arguments and want to have a substantive role in the debate." He compared the Obama birth theorists to those who said Obama's healthcare overhaul would create "death panels."

" 'Death panels' is not a substantive contribution to the discussion. It's a cartoon," he said.

Farah mocked Henke and other critics in a column this month, saying they were doing liberals' bidding.

"Am I scared? No, folks. I'm not," Farah wrote. "I didn't found WorldNetDaily to be esteemed by my colleagues. . . . I didn't found it because I wanted to be part of the 'conservative' movement. I founded it because there was a crying need for an independent brand of journalism beholden only to the truth."

WorldNetDaily takes credit for being the first to raise questions about Van Jones, Obama's "green jobs" advisor who resigned after Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck and others hammered him for his self-described communist beliefs and support for the idea that the U.S. government had a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Republican critics of the conservative fringe point with concern to a largely party-line vote in which many GOP senators opposed Obama regulatory nominee Cass Sunstein -- even though Sunstein's views on regulatory issues are considered favorable to industry.

In recent weeks, commentators such as Beck have portrayed Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, as a radical, citing, for example, his past speeches and articles advocating animal rights as evidence that he opposed gun rights. More mainstream groups such as the National Rifle Assn. and the American Conservative Union joined the opposition against Sunstein.

Citing the base's demand for ideological purity, Frum said: "I believe Republican senators cast votes [on Sunstein] that they really didn't want to cast."

One leading conservative Republican senator, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, said in an interview over the weekend that he decided to oppose Sunstein after hundreds of calls from constituents demanding a "no" vote due to Sunstein's "extreme views."

Asked to say which of Sunstein's views he considered extreme, DeMint could not answer. A DeMint spokesman later said, echoing the arguments of Beck and others, that his boss objected to the fact that Sunstein had once called for a ban on hunting and to his past statements on the legal rights of animals.

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peter.wallsten@latimes.com

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