Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 11, 2010

BRODER'S ADVICE FOR THE TEA PARTY CROWD.... The Washington Post's David Broder considers the Tea Partiers in his column today, riffing off the American Enterprise Institute's Henry Olsen's efforts to place it "in the historical context of other populist movements."

This strikes me as a very bad idea. For one thing, Tea Partiers aren't really a "movement" -- we're talking about an effort with no real leadership, expertise, policy agenda, clarity of thought, or internal structure, made up almost entirely of the most hysterical wing of the Republican Party base. For another, Tea Partiers aren't really populists -- they're anti-government zealots, actively hostile to efforts to materially improve the lives of working Americans.

But Broder seems to see things a little differently, and endorses the notion that Tea Partiers will have more success if they come across as less extreme.

[Olsen said William Jennings] Bryan failed in part "because he made a majority afraid. Some libertarian populists, with their rejection of every facet of the modern welfare state, are likely to do the same -- because even this center-right nation does not want to see the welfare state dismantled." Republican Senate candidates in Kentucky and Nevada need to have those words imprinted on their brains.

The need for Republicans, then, is to do what Reagan did -- "to propose alternatives that offer a real change of direction without seeming too radical." ... The new conservative populists, Olsen says, need their own positive vision, one that can "turn an intense but transient public sentiment into an enduring political force." [...]

Building a majority coalition will require a strong, sensible platform. And a clear separation from the kooks and cranks who sank both Bryan and Goldwater.

I suppose so, but isn't that pretty obvious? It's like saying, "Building a balanced budget will require a sensible long-term combination of tax increases, economic growth, and fiscal responsibility." Or maybe, "Building a successful Detroit Lions franchise will require talented players, sensible coaches, and a favorable schedule." As the kids say, "Duh."

The trick is figuring out how to make it happen. Would the Tea Party crowd be more popular if they seemed less insane? Well, sure. But we're talking about a confused group of right-wing cranks working off nothing but blind rage.

The problem isn't that Broder's advice is wrong; it's that his advice seems oddly out of place. The Tea Party crowd will succeed, he argues, if they appear mainstream, craft a coherent policy agenda, back off their demands to destroy nearly every federal program, and distance themselves from the "kooks."

That's fine, as far as it goes, but what about the realization that the Tea Party crowd isn't mainstream, doesn't know enough about government to craft an agenda, wants to destroy the modern welfare state, and includes an overabundance of kooks?

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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The TP'ers seem to be no-nothings, and an extreme version of the R's "Ownership Society" (ie you're on your own). They have different organizations that disagree, financed in large part by corporations and lobbyists; leadership seems to be from those two factions. And their method of communication is FAUX news (more corporate money). And no ideas on how to accomplish their objectives other than overthrowing the government and impeaching the president.

Populist my a*s. Just like so many other ReBPublican "grassroots" organizations. They don't know how to do true grassroots.

Posted by: Hmmmmm on July 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

This just seems historically out of synch to me. The Republicans have been in many ways the dominant national party since Nixon. The notion that we should look to them for "new directions" at this point seems unlikely. Strategically, they're kind of a spent force at the moment. This doesn't mean that they won't make tactical political gains. But that will be purely reactionary, based on fear or anger about Democratic "new directions", not because of any novel ideas that conservatives have right now about how to address America's challenges.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on July 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

So what he's saying is, they should just go back to being Republicans.

In any case, how do you tell a leaderless mob to adopt thoughtful changes and steer a rational course? They can't get rid of the kooks any more than they can, say, adopt an official party platform or hold a nominating convention. They're a movement, not a party, and they're nothing new -- just a faction with a new name.

I'd love it if this were a sign of the long-awaited fatal fracturing of the Reagan coalition, but I don't think it is. As Clinton said, "Republicans fall in line."

Posted by: bleh on July 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

What does not surprise me is his apparent benevolence towards the Tea Party. He wants to help these deranged freaks to grab power by giving them sage advice.

His tone towards liberals is entirely different: sneering, condescending malevolence.

That is why he keeps repeating the centerRIGHT nation mantra. Only rightwingers deserve true deference.

Posted by: Bondirotta on July 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

NOTE TO BRODER: The TeaPartiers ARE the kooks. And cranks. And they are actually kookier and crankier than the ones that sank Bryan and Goldwater. And they are armed. Hellooooooo.

Posted by: Tom on July 11, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

The media can spin it anyway it wants, but no matter how it comes out, it hasn't taken an expert on privilege to realize the Tea Party is made up of angry middle-aged white folk who don't want to see any more of their self-perceived privilege and social status being dented in by that African-American in the White House!

My observation - Tea Partiers still have that indelible stain of generational family history where they don't want to succumb to "those people" over there!

Any American soul who speaks for the Tea Partiers may find himself the object of their Tea bagging at any moment in the future if he dares to say anything critical of this crowd! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 11, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, last week on a trail in Alaska, a Portlandite was biking with Alaskan friends. As they rounded a sharp turn, they stumbled across a Mama Griz and her cubs. The Mama raked one of the bikers, but, they escaped. However, the sow's husband, Todd, was away fishing and was unavailable for comment.

Thank you, $t $arah for calling yourself a Mama Griz, as we can now call you a sow.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 11, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Tea partiers are nothing but mouthpieces for corporate desires: no government, no taxes, no health care, no one demanding they hire without racial, sexual, or age bias, no one demanding they pay fairly [or even pay at all -- wanting to get rid of the 14th amendment, REALLY!]

It's perfectly coherent, but it isn't logical. I just don't see why they are given so much newspace, except for the media pleasing their corporate bosses, who apparently all believe that they would be in paradise if the tea party 'programme' were adopted.

Posted by: jjm on July 11, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"And a clear separation from the kooks and cranks who sank both Bryan and Goldwater."

Broder might as well suggest to cockroaches that if they only stopped haunting kitchens and bathrooms people wouldn't find them so loathsome.

Posted by: bluestatedon on July 11, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The need for Republicans, then, is to do what Reagan did -- ‘to propose alternatives that offer a real change of direction without seeming too radical’.

Except Bonzo Ronnie campaigned on balancing the federal budget with massive tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate and massive spending for the Military Industrial Complex, claiming that the tax cuts would bring in more than enough revenue to pay for everything.

What’s not “radical” about that ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

As long as Broder's stating obvious things, allow me a few:

1) Take the blind, ignorant rage away from the tea partiers and you don't have any tea partiers left.

2) This "new" movement is nothing more than a rebranding of the same old movement. They know that Bush/Cheneyism is political poison, so they call themselves something else.

3) Broder's always been a hack and a Republican apologist. Can we please stop referring to him as a "liberal"?

Posted by: JJ Gildersneeze on July 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anything that doesn't require crazed mobs screaming crap they've read on Sarah Palin's Facebook isn't going to fly with the Tea Bagger crowd.

Posted by: Varecia on July 11, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Broder: Teabaggers, stop being yourselves.

Posted by: jcricket on July 11, 2010 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's the ultimate expression of "to Hell with everyone else," I'll jerk off while Amurika burns. People are unemployed and they want more people on the street.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 11, 2010 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

You still seem surprised and puzzled that The Washington Post op-ed page is legitimizing the corporate-sponsored, Madison Avenue-scripted, talk-radio-programmed, phony "conservative" astroturf pseudo-ideology of the Tea Party.

The whole and entire purpose of the corporate media is to propagandize the American people in furtherance of the corporate agenda.

As such, the role of the so-called "conservative" media is to promulgate the propaganda of the most ruthless, rapacious, reactionary elements of the corporate oligarchy to the brainwashed cult-for-hire, the "Tea Party" formerly known as "Ditto-Heads".

And the role of the so-called "mainstream" media is to legitimize that same propaganda for a wider audience.

Hence, the consistent and unvarying flow of LIES from the "mainstream" media aimed at convincing the American people that the corporate-created, corporate-directed "Tea Party" is a spontaneous expression of populism, and that its corporate-scripted pseudo-libertarian BS is a legitimate political philosophy.

This is how corporate-created "right-wing" lies and lunacy become "centrist", and what was previously "centrist" becomes "liberal", and what was previously "liberal" becomes "socialism", and anything to the "left" of that is utterly excluded from acceptable public discourse.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 11, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Get your socialistic gubmint hands off my Medicare...

...but what about the realization that the Tea Party crowd isn't mainstream, doesn't know enough about government to craft an agenda, wants to destroy the modern welfare state, and includes an overabundance of kooks?

Steve, you forgot the sweetest irony of all...
The "English Only" teabaggers can't spell worth a lick...

Posted by: koreyel on July 11, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"And a clear separation from the kooks and cranks who sank both Bryan and Goldwater."

Bryan actually achieved a great deal - he helped open credit resources to midwestern agricultural interests and helped secure the bi-metallic monetary system with lasted until Nixon. Goldwater was a crank whose greatest legacy is to serve as a right-wing martyr for conservative acolytes.

Posted by: sjk on July 11, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

"we're talking about an effort with no real leadership, expertise, policy agenda, clarity of thought, or internal structure"

That's why it is a movement. It wouldn't be a movement if it was nationally organized.

Here's another good one:

"because even this center-right nation does not want to see the welfare state dismantled."

Then we're not a "center-right" nation whatever the hell that means. Center-socialist but not center-right.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on July 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

made up almost entirely of the most hysterical wing of the Republican Party base. For another, Tea Partiers aren't really populists -- they're anti-government zealots, actively hostile to efforts to materially improve the lives of working Americans.

Sometimes I wonder whether you are obtuse on purpose.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 11, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe, "Building a successful Detroit Lions franchise will require talented players, sensible coaches, and a favorable schedule." As the kids say, "Duh."


All they need is Ndamukong Suh, baby.

Go Big Reg

Posted by: 2Manchu on July 11, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

AHH!! Should be "Go Big Red."

Now I'll have to watch the 1992 Orange Bowl as punishment.

Posted by: 2Manchu on July 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Typical republican nonsense. "Don't let people know what you really think, what you really believe. Pretend you're something else" Which is what the republicans are so good at. Their modern day primary principle is "Hypocrisy".

This is what the so called "tea party" is already doing being that they are now confirmed republicans. The so called independents of this tea party are in the words of driftglass, "like German soldiers who after the war stopped running long enough to burn their uniforms", these guys don't want to be connected to the Bush administration republican supporters so now they call themselves independents.

go to www.driftglass.com for the best Tea Party article I've come across where he quotes the WaPo's stupidity.

btw...Broder tried to sneak it in again, like Fox noise and others...THIS IS NOT A CENTER RIGHT NATION IT IS A CENTER LEFT NATION AS EVIDENCED BY A NUMBER OF RECENT POLLS. So F*#k you Broder and your propaganda. Calling on these right wing republicans pawning themselves off as "tea partys" to become more HYPOCRITICAL is just pathetic. And they do have leaders, Palin, Armey etc, and policies which are all anti democratic and a real party--republicans. Broder is just as ridiculous in his observations as ever only more shameless and pathetic in his hypocrisy cheering.

btw...the tea party republicans are still a minority with a big megaphone and sane people will want to keep it that way.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 11, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Leaderless?

Apparently Mr Benen's basic cable subscription does not include the FOX News Channel.

Posted by: Steve on July 11, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Broder: What do the networks want me to say this time?

I started reading his stuff back in the the early 70s, and it seemed so middle of the road. I enjoyed it, but I was six years old back then. After a lifetime of reading him, he still hasn't said anything interesting. He's basically just a thermometer for what is inside the beltway. Now I'm getting old and he's just getting older.

Posted by: fostert on July 11, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Are we supposed to be impressed or simply amused by the observation of a right wing clown cynically advocating that the Tea Party movement is to be defanged, sanitized for middle America and used as a drawing card for "independent" voters, and here's the punch line, just as soon as the conservative coalition can figure out what it has to do to improve the lives of ordinary Americans?

BTW: Nader's 2000 run made more of a difference in American history than the Tea Party ever will. Perot in 1992, as well. And there are other examples of the 3rd party variety that did not make the cut in the shallow, slipshod view of populism in the article that was the basis of Broder's column.

Posted by: gone_west on July 11, 2010 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think Broder worships power for its own sake and defines success accordingly. Otherwise, how could a party who wants to destroy Federal programs "succeed" by not destroying any? That's completely illogical.

Posted by: FGS on July 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty hard for the Tea Party to distance themselves from the kooks when, (with apologies to Pogo) "they have met the kooks, and they are them".

And BTW, Broder's gibberish is a pretty definitive negative commentary on the advisability of raising the retirement age. Sadly, for most of us, getting older does not mean getting better. However, like Helen Thomas, he is probably going to be given a forum until he does something really stupid to disgrace himself (or drops dead in front of his keyboard, whichever comes first.) Too bad folks in charge can't see that they are really not doing these dinosaurs a favor by letting them keep going until they manage to sully an otherwise admirable career with some feeble-minded gaffe,

Posted by: dcsusie on July 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Now that's the Steve Benen that I remember. Just call it like it is Steve. Good job.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on July 11, 2010 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't read all of Broder's column, but for what is, IMHO, the best historical analogy for the tea party movement, read up on Shay's Rebellion.

Posted by: cjdquest on July 12, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The author and the sniveling remarks on it here all mirror the findings of Dr. Rossiter:

"Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded,
Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave.
A social scientist who understands human nature will not dismiss the vital roles of free choice, voluntary cooperation and moral integrity as liberals do,
"A political leader who understands human nature will not ignore individual differences in talent, drive, personal appeal and work ethic, and then try to impose economic and social equality on the population as liberals do. And a legislator who understands human nature will not create an environment of rules which over-regulates and over-taxes the nations citizens, corrupts their character and reduces them to wards of the state as liberals do.
The roots of liberalism and its associated madness can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind,
When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the liberal mind becomes painfully obvious.

Time to grow up brats, or be dragged to the woodshed.

Posted by: Winghunter on July 12, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a poem for them:

http://teatpartytonic.blogspot.com/

Posted by: John Biship on July 13, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

If liberals are adolescents reacting against the world of responsibility, surely you'll admit that the right wing are the irresponsible demanding that someone else take responsibility.

Who else would be retired and demand cuts for "the rest" or would watch a war on tv and cheer themselves for their own great soldiering and sacrifice, or speak of freedom from taxes for the rich but not the poor or never dare to do anything challenging or romantic and want to bring down others to their own impotence by forcing the police to become repressive sexual and social enforcers for every personal action?

It's easy to cry for personal responsibility when it just means abandoning your responsibility to anyone else.

Posted by: angryliberal on July 28, 2010 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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