Sen. Ted Cruz
The press still can't come to grips with just how far right the Republican Party has become in the last few years, and just how far right campaign candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are running. Note this morning's news that Trump and Cruz will be holding a joint rally in opposition of the Iran nuclear deal—an event sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots, Center for Security Policy, and the Zionist Organization of America
But what's the rather innocent-sounding Center for Security Policy? That'd be the organization founded and run by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, a man obsessed with the notion that "creeping Sharia," promoted by secret pro-Muslim forces in the United States, poses an existential threat to America's democracy. He's claimed "compelling circumstantial evidence" for Saddam Hussein being somehow involved with the Oklahoma City bombing. He's been the main proponent of a racist conspiracy theory supposing Hillary Clinton staffer Huma Abedin was secretly assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, and in fact believes a phalanx of secret Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters have infiltrated the government—and demands congressional investigations into that secret Muslim influence.
Gaffney finally shot the moon in 2011, when he accused ultra-influential conservative anti-tax kingpin Grover Norquist of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy based on little more than Norquist's wife being a Palestinian-American, demanding the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC, hosts of the major yearly conference) look into these supposed ties. Gaffney's attack was so conspiracy-minded and so offensive (and, of course, so astonishingly racist) that CPAC took the extraordinary act of banishing him and his fellow conspiracy-promoters (among them, the equally infamous anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller) from future CPAC panels and events. He still retained his usual defenders in conspiracy circles and, conspicuously, is still a much-favored figure in places like Breitbart "News" and the Washington Times, but was considered persona non grata in the so-called respectable movement.
That was then. The Frank Gaffney of today hasn't tempered his theories; he still believes the government has been infiltrated by secret Muslim supporters. He still believes Muslims are undertaking a plan to convert the United States to Sharia law. He's still banned from CPAC due to his theories about Norquist and his wife. But he's managed to retain a following of actual members of Congress—he was a particular darling of ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann, but both Steve King and Peter King have had high praise for his anti-Muslim phobias. And now he'll be holding a forum for two first-tier Republican presidential candidates in order to promote his own favored theory, which is that the Iranian deal is the result of a longstanding plot by pro-Iranian, pro-Muslim forces within our own government to strengthen Muslims at our expense.
From being booted from conferences over his radical conspiracy theories to hosting presidential candidates in the span of one election cycle, despite Frank Gaffney not moderating his positions one bit during that time frame? That should provide at least some evidence of the continued party slide into the dregs of xenophobia, conspiracy peddling and outright propaganda.