Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oh, to be a pundit

I've always been a bit confused as to whether I ought to view the Tea Party as the over-hyped creation of a self-interested corporate media, as I'm inclined to do, or a serious threat to Democracy that requires forgiving Obama and the Democrats their many sins lest fascism come to America wrapped in a Gadsden flag and carrying Glenn Beck's latest manifesto.

You're probably just as confused as me if you've been reading liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, who like much of the left-leaning (for international readers: right-leaning) blogosphere can't seem to decide whether to be mildly amused by the reactionary movement or to wet his pants. If you haven't been exposed to Dionne's thoughts on the matter, well, good for you. But if you're interested, here's a quick collection on what the Washington Post pundit -- who, while probably not the worst offender out there, actually gets paid for this stuff so I'm going to go ahead and pick on him -- has written about the totally fake but serious fascist threat that's yesterday's news but oh no they're back and they're carrying dynamite Tea Party:

"The Tea Party: Populism of the privileged":
"The Tea Party is nothing new. It represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections.

In fact, both major parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism."
"The Tea Party is winning":
"No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country's dialogue."
"The Tea Party Is Yesterday's News":
"From the beginning, too many Republicans (and too many in the media) saw the tea party as a broadly based movement whose extreme anti-government views reflected the popular will.
This was never true. The tea party consisted of citizens on the right end of politics who were always there but got angrier and better-organized after Obama was elected."
"Get the tea party away from that fuse — now":
"The tea party’s followers have endangered the nation’s credit rating and the GOP by pushing both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor away from their own best instincts."
To recap: The Tea Party is a media creation with no popular support; the Tea Party has fundamentally changed political discussion in the U.S.; the Tea Party is over and done with and, again, has no popular support; and the Tea Party is back, has so much support it can dictate the actions of GOP leaders, and it's threatening to blow up America.

Any questions before the quiz?

My two cents: Politicians would have pursued the same policies, "Tea Party" or not. But the existence of the faux-mass movement, hyped by its corporate media partners, allows Democrats and Republicans alike to justify their actions by pointing to a form of populism that, in truth, isn't all that popular.


  1. jcapan3:10 PM

    "But the existence of the faux-mass movement, hyped by its corporate media partners, allows Democrats and Republicans alike to justify their actions by pointing to a populism that, in truth, isn't all that popular"

    While ignoring or willfully misinterpreting, for several decades now, any authentic manifestations of popular will.

    Nevertheless, to use Taibbi's words, there is "a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish." Whether they're attached to the TP movement or not. Sadly, there is no entity to the left of this egregiously bad administration providing a compelling counter narrative about what the fuck just happened to the country. Nor one that is as brutally honest as need be about the road ahead.

    But we're great at talking to one another or condemning Digby/Yglesias/Ezra (myself included).

  2. In defense of condemning Digby/Yglesias/Ezra, isn't that part of creating a competing -- and more truthful -- narrative about what's going on? They, to varying degrees, would like people to believe the Tea Party and crazy Republicans are responsible for the status quo. Someone has to point out the bipartisan nature of the scam if we're ever going to get past electing more and better Democrats as the answer.

  3. jcapan4:26 PM

    "In defense of condemning Digby/Yglesias/Ezra, isn't that part of creating a competing -- and more truthful -- narrative about what's going on?"

    In part, yes, and I'm hardly singling you out--your blog is compelling b/c you do other things. Part of it is this week it seems like everywhere I surf, it's Ygles this, Digster that, not to mention the hallowed reverence for known leftist Paul Krugman. By investing so much energy in negating the apologists, there is little left over for the movement that needs to be formed. I used to spend a lot of time doing the even more banal enterprise, striving to reinterpret the corporate media. Again, it seems to me that if one's energy is spent this way, they win, the corporations, the A list bloggers doing backflips for peanuts from the powerful. By keeping dissidents reacting to their narratives as opposed to being out there peddling their own.

    I also say this as someone who volunteers with a party with the actual word "communist" in its name, one that goes door to door seeking out the indigent and/or elderly to see what they need, how they can advocate for their interests, first and foremost, long before any discussion of the ballot box is concerned. And very little of their energy or discourse is spent on this country's version of the duopoly. Most of it is focused on what they stand for and how they can help. In electoral terms, it's a vain effort, but much aid is indeed provided.

    In this regard, it's as much like a church as a political party. Party members go about preaching the gospel, winning souls one arduous step at a time. I guess what I'm saying is we need more guys like Chris Hedges, willing to go out there and protest and get arrested and less blokes like IOZ, however many shits/giggles he provides. The web can be an enormous tool but by itself it's a vortex sucking anything more off the table. And the times call for so much more.

    Sorry for the long comment

  4. I think it's possible to understand the Teaps as both astroturfed and self-referential.

    They're not unlike libertarians within the GOP caucus, where their identity is important, and contributes to national narratives, but which follows the corporate policy that is the establishment line more than driving it.

    Unlike libertarians, though, the Tea Party does attract people who strong opinions about the aggressive use of the state.

  5. Anonymous9:08 PM

    Crowbar knows nothing about the Tea Party except foaming-mouthed nonsense. Believe him if you wish to be misled.

  6. Hey, I'm cool with people getting into mean-spirited pissing matches on the Internet and all -- I have a blog -- but how about including actual, specific criticisms when we do it?

  7. The Tea Party's actual demographics (they're not poor crackers; they are well off white folks pissed at a caricature of "big gummint" that doesn't actually exist). They are, in fact, just the "Values Voters" of the suburbs and exurbs, re-branded:

    Tea Party's Actual Demographics, As Opposed to Fanboy Wishful Thinking

    The Tea Party's authoritarian chic:

    Tea Party: Authoritarian

    Tea Party: Still Authoritarian