By refusing to accept tax increases in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are behaving like "fanatics," writes David Brooks of The New York Times.
Anti-tax Republicans "have no sense of moral decency," he adds.
They are "willing to stain their nation's honor" to "worship their idol." If this "deal of the century" goes down, as he calls the Barack Obama offer, "Republican fanaticism" will be the cause.
"The GOP has become a cult" that has replaced reason with "feverish" and "cockamamie beliefs," writes Richard Cohen of The Washington Post. The Republican "presidential field (is) a virtual political Jonestown," the Guyana site where more than 900 followers of the Peoples Temple drank the Kool-Aid that Rev. Jim Jones mixed for them.
Does anyone think this an appropriate description of such mild-mannered men as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman?
"The GOP's Hezbollah Wing Is Now Fully in Control," screams The New Republic over a recent lead editorial.
Other columnists charge the GOP with holding America "hostage" by refusing to accept tax hikes to avert a default on the debt.
What to make of this hysteria?
The Establishment is in a panic. It has been jolted awake to the realization that the GOP House, if it can summon the courage to use it, is holding a weapon that could enable it to bridle forever the federal monster that consumes 25 percent of gross domestic product.
To bully and blackmail the GOP into surrendering the weapon and betraying its principles and signing on to new taxes, that establishment has unleashed rhetoric more befitting a war on terror than a political dispute.
For how, exactly, are Republicans threatening the republic?
The House has not said it will not raise the debt ceiling. It must and will. It has not said it will not accept budget cuts. It has indicated a willingness to accept the budget cuts agreed to in the Biden negotiations.
Where the GOP has stood its ground is on tax increases.
Is fanaticism behind this stance? Does this manifest insanity? How does this imperil the nation's honor and future?
Behind the GOP opposition to tax hikes is the party's word given to the country that elected it in 2010, its political principles, its traditional view of what not to do when the nation is in a slump, and party history.
Fully 235 Republican House members signed a 2010 pledge not to raise taxes. And by giving their word they were rewarded with victory.