Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 23, 2011

SEARCHING IN VAIN FOR TEA PARTIERS' CONSISTENCY.... President Obama, in his capacity as Commander in Chief, launched military strikes against Libya on Saturday, without caring much whether Congress liked the idea. Most of his White House predecessors have done the same thing, and in each instance, at least a few lawmakers express outrage.

But over the last few days, the loudest cries have come from the left, not the right, and Dennis Kucinich has been far more incensed than any red-state Tea Partier. Dave Weigel wondered why this is.

[O]n Monday, Obama issued a presidential message to Congress explaining why he'd joined an "international effort" and "began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone."

This was the 119th message of its kind since the passage of the War Powers Resolution. It was the first since the rise of the Tea Party, the conservative movement that defines everything it does as a way to keep faith with the Constitution. So the relative lack of Tea Party angst over the no-fly zone has been surprising. There is no discussion of Libya happening at Ginni Thomas' Liberty Central, no statement from Tea Party Patriots or the Tea Party Express.

Weigel largely chalked this up to Tea Party groups being busy elsewhere -- activists are focused primarily on fights over spending, not foreign policy. There's no doubt some truth to that.

But I also think political observers should realize that Tea Partiers don't always stick to a predictable script, generally because they don't know what they're talking about.

Yes, there's a budget fight underway, but from the perspective of Tea Party groups, a radical leftist president just launched a military operation on a foreign land without congressional consent. Tea Party organizations can't so much as issue a press release?

Well, no, because their alleged obsession with constitutional fealty is quite limited -- which is to say, they don't really care. They have a narrow ideological agenda, and if they can use legal arguments to justify those ends, great. But it's not like we're dealing with constitutional scholars itching for a debate over the nuances of Article II, Sec. 2.

Indeed, this seems to come up all the time. In December, when policymakers reached a deal on taxes that would be entirely financed through the deficit, it was tempting to think, "Shouldn't Tea Partiers, who claim to be obsessed with the deficit, be complaining about this?" But of course they said nothing.

And last summer, during the fight over Wall Street reform, one might have thought, "Shouldn't Tea Partiers side with consumers over a bunch of bailed out banks and their lobbyists?" But that didn't happen either.

The point is, we should stop looking for ideological consistency from a group of well-intentioned but easily-misled conservative activists. As I've mentioned before, if you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Apropos of nothing, check out War Made Easy:

* The official film site: http://www.warmadeeasythemovie.org/

* Stream the whole thing for free: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8383084962209910782

* Most germane segment on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEqvkFxpiFI

Peace out, yo!

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 23, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Damned moderation.

Apropos of nothing, check out War Made Easy: http://www.warmadeeasythemovie.org/

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 23, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Tea Partyers are lost in Reaganomics - cut taxes and raise military spending and the deficit will take care of itself! They aren't complaining because they see the air strikes in Libya as increased military spending! Their buddy Grover N. is working on the tax cut thingy here in the states! And, presto!

The deficit will go away, the government will shutdown, but Mommar will have been bombed! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

War Made Easy: Stream the whole thing for free: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8383084962209910782

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

And the Most germane segment on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEqvkFxpiFI

Peace out, yo!

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 23, 2011 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the TPs and their congressional minions are utterly consistent: Whatever Obama says or does, they're against it. End of story.

Posted by: K in VA on March 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Weigel largely chalked this up to Tea Party groups being busy elsewhere -- activists are focused primarily on fights over spending, NPR not foreign policy.

Fixed that for you.

Posted by: g on March 23, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

As much as they deny it, the Tea Party is owned and operated by Dick Armey and his merry band of corporate lobbyists. They know they need the military wing of the right wing to push their agenda, so they'll shut up about Libya. The bank bailout helped their guys, so if the rank and file Tea Party is upset about that, too damn bad. It's easy to figure out what the Tea Party will do or support. Just look at what Dick Armey wants.

Posted by: dalloway on March 23, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is simple:

Teabaggers LOVE war even more than they hate our black President.


Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

...well-intentioned but easily-misled conservative activists.

I will buy into the easily-misled, but I strongly question if many of them are actually well-intentioned!

They are mostly easily manipulated and easily misled tools of the corporate/wealthy power structure!

It requires zero good intentions to be a fool and a tool!

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

and, here, I thought Ginni and the Tpers were far too busy working on their brackets.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

And last summer, during the fight over Wall Street reform, one might have thought, "Shouldn't Tea Partiers side with consumers over a bunch of bailed out banks and their lobbyists?" But that didn't happen either.

Gosh, it's almost as if this "new movement" was really simply the Republican Party's radical right, dead-ender, 27%-crazification-factor base.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I live near kucinich's district and around here people either love him or think he's a wackaloon. given that I've always thought that he basically has been consistant about what he beleives in. But in this case i think he's first posturing for attention because he hasn't gotten enough lately and second he's full of shit on this issue. And if you read the article in the NY Times from the reporters that were captured by the govt forces of Libya you'd be hard pressed to come up with an argument for not obliterating all of Khaddaffi's forces.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 23, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Tea-tards are about as consistent as truth in Washington politics. How this (Dick Armey bowel) movement ever got more than 2 minutes air time is a bellwether for how retarded America's populace have become. Hey, fat stupid white people! Tax breaks for the wealthy pave the roads, right?!

Posted by: Trollop on March 23, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"their alleged obsession with constitutional fealty is quite limited -- which is to say, they don't really care. They have a narrow ideological agenda, and if they can use legal arguments to justify those ends, great."

This is also an apt description of Glenn Greenwald.

Posted by: September on March 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Have you ever been scuba or skin diving, Steve? If so, you've probably encountered hundreds or maybe even thousands of small silver fish that swarm and travel together in one large silver cloud. Poke a stick in their midst and they go their separate ways for a bit, but regroup and change directions all at once. That's the way I view the TPers. The TP handlers, aka, the kochs, grammm and kindred "sticks" aren't poking at the moment because they're getting what they want. The closer to election the poking will start again.

Posted by: CDW on March 23, 2011 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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