It is a genuinely sad thing to see the party of Nixon and Eisenhower, Reagan and Pat Buchanan, turn into a joke. But it seems beyond dispute that this has happened. One could seek to understand, while condemning, George W. Bush’s foreign policy after 9/11: it had traceable roots in the party’s influential neoconservative intellectuals and was made possible only by a genuine national panic after an attack that seemed to come, to the uninformed, completely out of the blue.

Even Joe McCarthy and his demagogic scattershot blasts of false allegations could be understood in the context of the nation’s shock in turning from a wartime alliance with   “Uncle Joe” to an abrupt realization that the Soviet Union was an expansionist totalitarian country with a genuine network of sympathizers inside the United States.

But what explains the GOP’s present absurdity? In its reality-resistant style it resembles McCarthyism, but of course the second time it is McCarthyism as farce.

Here Colbert runs through the GOP and “conservosphere”  media’s wholehearted embrace of the “Friends of Hamas” charge—Chuck Hagel was said to have delivered speeches before the non-existent group:

Here is how the charge started—a journalist thought he was being obviously, crudely sarcastic in suggesting the possibility to a Republican aide.

It would be funny, except the country—really any country, but certainly this one at a critical historical juncture—does actually need a conservative party that isn’t ridiculous.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have one.