"If a prominent Democratic office holder, in 2005, delivered a speech referring to George W. Bush's agenda as 'fascism,' comparing his administration to totalitarian regimes, and casually throwing in a reference to Hitler," says Steve Benen, "that Democrat would have a very difficult time being taken seriously by the political establishment moving forward. Presidential ambitions would be largely out of the question."
"Why Huckabee thinks that federally funded research into determining which medical treatments are effective is similar to being a totalitarian mass-murderer is a bit beyond me" says Matt Yglesias. "But it’s par for the course in the uglier corners of conservatism, they’re just not corners Huckabee’s been known for dwelling in."
"Either Huckabee is losing his ear or this is what you really have to say to get the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012," says Mark Kleiman.
I'd say (a) yes, Huckabee really believes this stuff, (b) no, a Democrat couldn't get away with something like this, (c) yes, it's what you have to do to win the GOP nomination these days, and (d) no, nobody really cares because talk radio has inured us to this kind of stuff. Boys will be boys. He's just warming up the crowd. Etc.
And the good news? It demonstrates that things are going to get worse for Republicans before they get better. "The party of Lincoln is now the Party of Limbaugh," says Paul Begala, and he's right. Like most parties that have lost their way in the past, it's now clear that they'll spend at least four years insisting that what America really wants is an even more extreme version of what they voted against in 2008. Cooler heads will eventually prevail, but not until 2016 at the earliest. Maybe not until 2020. Obama's really got some running room in front of him.