Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tea-tering On The Edge

I've argued that there's no difference between the GOP and the Tea Party, and that they are united in common by Obama Derangement Syndrome.  Frank Rich on the other hand makes the firebagger argument:  Tea Party faithful hate Bush Republicans just as much and want to see almost all incumbents tossed out.
The distinction between the Tea Party movement and the official G.O.P. is real, and we ignore it at our peril. While Washington is fixated on the natterings of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Michael Steele and the presumed 2012 Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, these and the other leaders of the Party of No are anathema or irrelevant to most Tea Partiers. Indeed, McConnell, Romney and company may prove largely irrelevant to the overall political dynamic taking hold in America right now. The old G.O.P. guard has no discernible national constituency beyond the scattered, often impotent remnants of aging country club
Republicanism. The passion on the right has migrated almost entirely to the Tea Party’s counterconservatism.

The leaders embraced by the new grass roots right are a different slate entirely: Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Simple math dictates that none of this trio can be elected president. As George F. Will recently pointed out, Palin will not even be the G.O.P. nominee “unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states” (as it did in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Waterloo). But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism. This ideology is far more troubling than the boilerplate corporate conservatism and knee-jerk obstructionism of the anti-Obama G.O.P. Congressional minority.
He's both correct and incorrect here.  He's absolutely correct about the Tea Party folks being potentially violent, dangerous, even deadly:
Such violent imagery and invective, once largely confined to blogs and talk radio, is now spreading among Republicans in public office or aspiring to it. Last year Michele Bachmann, the redoubtable Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, set the pace by announcing that she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous” to oppose Obama administration climate change initiatives. In Texas, the Tea Party favorite for governor, Debra Medina, is positioning herself to the right of the incumbent, Rick Perry — no mean feat given that Perry has suggested that Texas could secede from the union. A state sovereignty zealot, Medina reminded those at a rally that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

In the heyday of 1960s left-wing radicalism, no liberal Democratic politicians in Washington could be found endorsing groups preaching violent revolution. The right has a different history. In the months before McVeigh’s mass murder, Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman, then representing Idaho and Texas in Congress, publicly empathized with the conspiracy theories of the far right that fueled his anti-government obsessions.

In his Times article on the Tea Party right, Barstow profiled Pam Stout, a once apolitical Idaho retiree who cast her lot with a Tea Party group allied with Beck’s 9/12 Project, the Birch Society and the Oath Keepers, a rising militia group of veterans and former law enforcement officers who champion disregarding laws they oppose. She frets that “another civil war” may be in the offing. “I don’t see us being the ones to start it,” she told Barstow, “but I would give up my life for my country.”

Whether consciously or coincidentally, Stout was echoing Palin’s memorable final declaration during her appearance at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month: “I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help.” It’s enough to make you wonder who is palling around with terrorists now.
But he's 100% incorrect when he says that's different from the GOP.  The country club Republicans may not be actively mentioning watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants, but to them Obama Derangement Syndrome and the Tea Party is still a means to an end, and that end is retaking Congress from the Democrats.  They may not actively admit overtly supporting these tinfoil-wrapped bits of lunacy that the Birthers, Tenthers, and 9/12ers bring to the Tea Party, but they are making no effort at all to renounce them, either.

Frank Rich is partially correct when he says the Tea Party is dangerous, but functionally they are no different than the GOP, and both sides know it.  They just want to the see the Democrats gone in flames, and one faction is simply more honest about the lengths they will go to in order to accomplish it.

That's the only difference.  Trying to pretend the mainstream GOP is somehow filled with rational actors who wish to work with the Democrats to save America from this recession is Village idiocy.  If Rich is really interested in warning us about the Tea Party, he needs to start by telling the GOP leadership to stop embracing these dangerous nutjobs, not looking for ways to get the Republicans off the hook ahead of time.  They created this monster and lost control of it.

Call them out on it, and ask them why they are not renouncing it daily.  A real journalist concerned with the safety of America as Rich really, honestly seems to be here would not be making the mistake of dismissing the GOP leadership as irrelevant to this fight in 2010.

On the contrary, they are entirely relevant, because you should be asking GOP leaders what they plan to do to stop the Tea Party.

Your article is a cop-out.  That's a shame too, because you're right about them being dangerous.

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