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Republicans Are Exploiting the Murder of Mollie Tibbetts

• The New York Times

Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student whose body was found this week.CreditCreditIowa Department of Criminal Investigation, via Associated Press

Where does the conservative commitment to limited government and individual freedom, always more rhetorical than real, finally go to die?

One strong candidate is rural America, where Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa, was brutally murdered this summer at the hands, allegedly, of a Mexican immigrant who may be in the country illegally.

The killing of Ms. Tibbetts, who went missing on July 18 but whose body was found only this week, is an unspeakable tragedy. Her killer should be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. Yet many conservatives who have long assailed the government as incompetent at best are now so blinded by xenophobic rage over her murder that they've turned into the thing they claim to despise: vociferous boosters of big government.

Consider a piece posted this week at Conservative HQ, the official site of the direct-mail innovator Richard Viguerie, the legendary "funding father" of the postwar conservative movement going back to its early days supporting Barry Goldwater in the 1960s. In "The Politicians Who Killed Mollie Tibbetts," the site's editor, George Rasley, lays the blame not on the man in police custody but on a cabal of elected officials and profit-hungry plutocrats.

Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student whose body was found this week.CreditCreditIowa Department of Criminal Investigation, via Associated Press

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