In relation to Joe Ricketts and Fred Davis's seeming psychotic break, Steve Kornacki writes that
[t]here’s a persistent belief on the right that President Obama snuck into office in 2008 because an awestruck media refused to look into his background and personal associations, preventing voters from learning about all sorts of radical, anti-American connections that would have turned them against the Democratic nominee.
This "belief" is consistent with the paranoid right's threefold dementia, which, as Richard Hofstadter diagnosed it the mid-1960s, boils with conviction that "there has been the now-familiar sustained conspiracy ... to undermine free capitalism, to bring the economy under the direction of the federal government, and to pave the way for socialism or communism"; that "top government officialdom has been so infiltrated by Communists [radicals] that American policy ... has been dominated by men who were shrewdly and consistently selling out American national interests"; and that "the country is infused with a network of Communist [again, radical] agents ... so that the whole apparatus of education, religion, the press, and the mass media is engaged in a common effort to paralyze the resistance of loyal Americans."
To undermine capitalism. Check. To pave the way for socialism. Check. To sell out American national interests. Check. And, at the hands of a left-wing conspiracy so vast and diabolically unscrupulous, to paralyze loyal Americans--i.e., right-wing Republicans. Check. President Obama and his devious crew have had all the boxes checked by the Ricketts and Bachmanns and Palins. But a question remains: Just how many Palins and others are there, really?
This, about his own lifetime's Palinesque species, Hofstadter could not have known in 1964, although his apparent guess essentially narrowed to John Birchers--a decided minority, even if it unquestionably influenced the thinking and beliefs of many mainstream conservatives of that era who were looking for any additional reasons to vote against the hated Lyndon Johnson, and later, his even more hated Great Society.
Neither have we any way of knowing in 2012. My suspicion, however, is that the actual numbers per capita are no larger than they were in '64, and quite possibly smaller. For not merely the paranoid right, but for the far right at large, though, its cynicism has swelled exponentially. In 1964, it took some doing for the average voter to actually find and thus be able to debate a wingnut of authentic Bircher qualities. Today? They're everywhere, thick as thieves, as they say, and possessing about the same sense of personal honor. They'll cynically swear they believe everything Kornacki delineates above; and "they" are virtually the entire, primary-voting Republican Party. So much of what they believe is self-evidently absurd, surely even to them--but it's their story, and they're sticking to it. I suppose their intense cynicism arises from the simple fact that they cannot argue the facts or beat the opposition with facts.
Within mere "beliefs," though--be they political or religious--facts just don't matter.