Looking at the extreme, exaggerated, consistent, pervasive, and distasteful contempt for the President that characterizes so much contemporary rightwing discourse, Andrew Sullivan asks (again):
Is this rank racism, pure partisanship, class resentment, or some toxic combination of them all?
That and much more, but also quite simply the fact that the current Republican political and opinion leadership is exploiting credibility that it has inherited rather than earned. It was built up over decades, and popular and mainstream comprehension of the current party’s narrowness has not yet caught up to the reality. So we have the mere appearance of a still closely and sharply divided country against an actual ideological relative consensus, though the gap or lag also equates with prudent patience, since it remains conceivable that the Republicans will revert to historical form – as an element within the American social democratic state rather than as the principle of its total negation – at any political time. It’s not just or even so much that the Republican opinion elite has moved right, as that the mainstream opinion consensus has expanded to envelop much of what was once thought “conservative,” an argument that the President and allies, and more than a few disgruntled further-leftists, have not yet tired of making. For now, in the aftermath of the Bush catastrophe and ahead of the oncoming demographic deluge, the remaining Republican centrists either have adopted adversarial stances toward the movement (Frum, Bartlett) or are represented by politician-opportunists and hacks (Romney, Huntsman, Boehner, McConnell) whose path of least resistance is to operate within the radicalized party as they find it.