In trying to capture the significance of the radicalization of today's Republican Party, it's sometimes helpful to take note of who has been pushed from the GOP mainstream. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, for example, used to be considered a conservative Republican. But since he believes in using monetary policy to improve the economy, today's GOP considers him too liberal.
Ronald Reagan used to be considered a Republican on a near-demigod status, but he's practically a Democrat by 21st century standards.
And then there's Richard Posner, a conservative judicial icon and Reagan appointee, who marvels at what's become of his party.
Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, has long been one of the nation's most respected and admired legal thinkers on the right. But in an interview with NPR, he expressed exasperation at the modern Republican Party, and confessed that he has become "less conservative" as a result.
Posner expressed admiration for President Ronald Reagan and the economist Milton Friedman, two pillars of conservatism. But over the past 10 years, Posner said, "there's been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking."
"I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy," he said.
Congratulations, GOP. You've even gone too far for Posner.
What's more, looking at the reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, and the right's apoplexy towards Chief Justice John Roberts, Posner added, "Because if you put [yourself] in his position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?' Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position."
Keep in mind, when Posner uses words like "lunatics" and "crackpots," he's apparently referring to the other conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court.