WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- "Socialist" has apparently arrived as a favorite negative term for conservatives to use in describing political opponents, The New York Times said Sunday.
In an analysis of rhetoric employed recently by conservative political figures, the newspaper noted that "socialist" has apparently replaced "liberal" as the preferred epithet. Talk radio and Internet sites feature wide use of the term, which also was applied liberally at last week's annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Friday called President Barack Obama "the world's best salesman of socialism."
In an address at CPAC, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee compared Obama and the Democrats' agenda to that of the former Soviet Union.
"Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff," Huckabee said.
"Socialism is something new for us to hit Obama over the head with," said Joshua Bolin of Augusta, Ga., founder of Reagan.org -- which he told the newspaper was something of an answer to the liberal site MoveOn.org.
The newspaper noted that the left has for decades called the right names such as "fascists" and "fundamentalists."
Use of the term "socialist" gained traction during the 2008 presidential campaign when the GOP ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin picked up on a remark Obama made at a campaign stop in which he mentioned the idea of spreading wealth around.
Charles Geisst, a financial historian at Manhattan College in New York noted that conservatives routinely called President Franklin Roosevelt a socialist during the 1930s, but the term doesn't pack the punch it once did as a political slur.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. -- who is a socialist -- said the United States could benefit from a debate on the real-world experience of countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland, where socialist policies are the norm.