Archive for Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conservatives reject tea party element

March 3, 2010

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“At some point, you have to use the word ‘crazy.’”

It will not surprise you to hear that the speaker is referring to extremists within the tea party movement. What might surprise you is that the speaker is Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState, a prominent conservative blog.

Erickson was recently quoted on Politico in a report about how he and other conservatives are attempting to distance their ideology and the Republican Party from the paranoid theorizing and loud, incoherent screaming that have recently passed for discourse on the political right. And of course, the darkly comic thing about it is that, less than a year ago, some conservatives were “exulting” over the tea parties, believing they brought needed energy to a movement demoralized by its 2008 shellacking at the polls. “The Republican comeback has begun,” declared GOP chief Michael Steele.

What a difference a year makes. Or not.

Some of us after all, have argued all along that the tea parties were about as “conservative” — insofar as that term has traditionally been understood — as ladies night in a Castro Street bar. Indeed, some of us made the same point about George W. Bush, the putatively conservative president who nevertheless presided over an expansion of the federal government and of a federal entitlement program (Medicare), a costly war of choice in Iraq founded on a shifting rationale, and financial mismanagement that turned surplus into deficit seemingly overnight.

For at least the last decade, then, conservatism has not seemed particularly conservative — a disconnect many of the ideology’s adherents managed to ignore so long as it was useful to do so, i.e., so long as it played well at the ballot box. “Just win, baby” was their mantra; intellectual honesty, their casualty; and as a result, their ideology slid into — here’s that word again — incoherence, taking American political discourse with it.

But in the tea party movement, some conservatives finally meet a cognitive disconnect they simply cannot bridge.

A recent New York Times profile found the tea party movement to be amorphous and largely without an organizing principle other than its anger toward government and fear of a supposedly imminent dictatorship. Beyond that, partiers are an unwieldy amalgam of tax haters, global warming holdouts, illegal-immigration protesters, secessionists, gun rights advocates, white supremacists, militia types and conspiracy theorists, all banging their gongs at the same time.

Like the liberal noisemakers who follow the World Trade Organization around, their lack of message discipline renders them — that word, yet again — incoherent. Like them, they have yet to figure out that to protest everything is to protest nothing.

Make no mistake: Every movement or marginalized people has its fringe extremists who threaten to define the whole. Thus, moderate American Muslims are periodically required to rebuke Islamic terrorists, environmentalists are obligated to rebuff eco-terrorists, and moderate African-Americans are expected to reprove Louis Farrakhan.

But conservatives, outside of a few integrity-driven souls over the years, have not rushed to repudiate the crazies among them, even as the crazies have grown crazier and threatened to engulf the whole.

So it is welcome, albeit belated, news to hear Ned Ryun of American Majority telling Politico the right needs to stop providing a platform to its extremists, and to read columnist Michael Gerson speaking of the need to shove them to the margins, and to learn that Erickson has banned birthers — i.e., people who persist in the asinine belief that President Obama was not born in the U.S.A. — from his Web site.

“At some point, you have to use the word ‘crazy,’” he says. And he’s right, of course.

But that point came a long time ago.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com. lpitts@miamiherald.com

Comments

Rex Russell 5 years, 2 months ago

-"paranoid theorizing and loud, incoherent screaming that have recently passed for discourse"-

-"partiers are an unwieldy amalgam of tax haters, global warming holdouts, illegal-immigration protesters, secessionists, gun rights advocates, white supremacists, militia types and conspiracy theorists, all banging their gongs"-

All right, which one of you sent Leonard Pitts the link to the LJW ?

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 2 months ago

Pitts makes the mistake of equating fringe elements of a movement with the heart and soul of a movement. To do that dooms him to misunderstand his opposition.

anon1958 5 years, 2 months ago

The Tea Party is fringe, but then again the desperation of Republicans is without limits. The republicans have let the John Birch Society back in their party and allow themselves to be bossed around by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

It is no longer elitist for democrats to to look down their nose at the intellectual trash that permeates the republican party, the whole thing is a shameful disaster guided by morons. So I suppose I have to agree with the comment that the Tea Party will be mainstream soon.

The greatest misunderstanding that so many right wingers have is that those on the left "are just like those on the right but have a different set of beliefs". This is a fundamental error that they have made in misunderstanding their political enemies. We are not in any way just a mirror reflection of the right, the left understands that liberty must be tempered with justice and that the laws and rules of government are needed to counter human greed and selfishness, the engine of unrestrained capitalism and every other kind of tyrannical system ever invented.

The right is highly disorganized and collectively, rather too cowardly, the right on the other hand is highly organized, but your organizing principles embrace anti-intellectualism and selfishness, of course the right also is organized by contemptible morons like George Bush, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney etc, etc, worse and worse, so I think I will stick with the disorganized group.

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

"tax haters, global warming holdouts, illegal-immigration protesters,"

Don't see anything wrong whatsoever with these first three on your 'list', Lenny. Interesting modifier there however, "tax haters"?; is there some unsung segment of society that are "tax lovers"?

At least Pitts' finally acknowledges that all tea party protesters aren't extremists. That hasn't been the case in previous columns. Don't think I can disagree with anything he says.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

"Mercedes Benz"

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ? Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me. I wait for delivery each day until three, So oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town ? I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down. Prove that you love me and buy the next round, Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town ?

Everybody! Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends, Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

That's it!

Janis Joplin sang this and it is still true today.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

Lenny talking about conservatives is like a pig looking at the moon. He may see it, but he doesn't understand it.

Jim Williamson 5 years, 2 months ago

The Teabaggers are the lunatic fringe of the "conservative" movement. The people Pitts talks about aren't a few outlyers. These are the bulk of the Teabagger movement. They've seceded from the Republican Party because mainstream Republicans aren't conservative enough for them.

I truly don't believe that right-thinking Pubs will absorb or support these nutburgers. When it comes to the poltical favors the Pubs would have to make good on to get the Teabaggers' support, those are checks they don't even want to think about writing.

Jim Williamson 5 years, 2 months ago

The Teabaggers are the lunatic fringe of the "conservative" movement. The people Pitts talks about aren't a few outlyers. These are the bulk of the Teabagger movement. They've seceded from the Republican Party because mainstream Republicans aren't conservative enough for them.

I truly don't believe that right-thinking Pubs will absorb or support these nutburgers. When it comes to the poltical favors the Pubs would have to make good on to get the Teabaggers' support, those are checks they don't even want to think about writing.

itwasthedukes 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure most of you get your news from MSNBC and have never been to a tea party. You would probably consider yourself to be an open minded and understanding liberal yet you willing label these people with no real facts or evidence. You call that discourse?

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

"The people Pitts talks about aren't a few outlyers."

You know this how?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

If you want to know the definitions of "tea party" and "tea bagging" do a search on google. Results may be NSFW. Explaining the difference on this board appears to be taboo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

"November will come like a thief in the night."

Maybe, maybe not.

Headline--Poll: 80% think federal government is broken

"In fact, Americans tilt slightly against Republicans as to which party they blame more. They also give a 10-point edge to Democrats when they’re asked which party they’d vote for if the congressional elections were today."

Ralph Reed 5 years, 2 months ago

I was once labeled a radical centrist by "He who shall not be named." That may be as I can sometimes see both sides of an issue; my voting record would also surprise many. But, that being said:


@Tom: Your comments seem to have come simply from your anti-liberal, anti-democratic phrase machine. At least it's not in overdrive (yet).

strs and CRR are both wrong in essence, though they try to cover it up. Frankly, all I've seen from several news sources about the teabaggers is that they are a fringe element. I would not put it past them to engage in physical violence if someone had the audacity to disagree at one of their meetings. Their behavior really smacks of a lynch mob saying, "Kill-em all and let God sort them out."

All three of you seldom, if ever, agree with anything Pitts writes. So, given that, why should your comments above be any different?


@itwasthedukes: Welcome to the LJW forums.

Your comment about attending a teabagger meeting. I ask you this. Why would I go to a meeting where I would not be welcome, would be ridiculed for saying what I believe, and possibly threatened with bodily harm? That is my impression of the teabaggers, garnered from several news sources.

ferrislives 5 years, 2 months ago

If the Tea Party is able to get some solid candidates for the next election, all that they will really accomplish is to drain voters from the GOP, just like what happened in 2000 with Ralph Nader. That didn't work out so well for the Dem's, did it?

I think that the frustrations their feeling about our government are real concerns to many, especially with the unending spending, but it's a lose-lose for conservatives until they all get under one banner.

If conservatives want to rule again, they'll need to get back to their root values. If they continue with this hateful rhetoric, they'll never gain support among the independents out there. Most Americans are tired of that.

brian1981 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm always amused when liberals like Pitts try to dictate what's in the best interests of conservatives who face them every year in elections. It's sort of like Gary Pinkel spending all year giving strategic "advice" to Turner Gill leading up to the big game.

Of course liberals generally try to dictate what's in the best interests of everybody--including people they can't or don't understand or relate with--whether they like it or not. See "What's the Matter With Kansas" for a couple hundred pages of this hypocrisy.

whats_going_on 5 years, 2 months ago

Tom, please do NOT be so close minded and ignorant as to think liberals are the only name callers and users of ad hom tactics. BOTH parties are to blame.

jimmyjms 5 years, 2 months ago

"is there some unsung segment of society that are "tax lovers"?"

"Love" might be a strong word, but adults understand that taxes are necessary for the country to operate.

georgiahawk 5 years, 2 months ago

ComradeRR, try learning some history, it was "taxation without representation". Surely you have heard of that before. And yes, it is patriotic to pay your taxes. You are a typical non thinking conservative! A tea-bagger! If you tea-baggers hate America so much, move somewhere and form your own union. A gun in every hand, and not a road in sight because that would require taxation, no schools so that no one would qustion your ignorant statements. You know, that might be just stupid enough to work...not!

Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

Don't bother with firearms. Simply carry a club and threaten voters at a polling place. According to our current AG, "let 'em go" Holder, that's quite okay.

georgiahawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Comrade, you are about as ignorant as they come! You do know that we can vote, that we vote in our representatives that represent us? And yes, taxation without representation was a rallying call for the colonist no matter how you want to rewrite history.

Finally, I am here because it is fun pointing out just how ignorant your rants are. Keep up the good work but to be honest with you I am beginning to think that you are not real. I work with a man that is extremely right of right of right, and he is not nearly as ignorant as you act.

Tom, did you have fun watching Sarah last night (wink wink nudge nudge)?

georgiahawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Tom, wink wink nudge nudge, know what I mean, know what I mean? Get over it! It is called humor, conservatives don't have it unless you take into consideration that they think it is funny to p!ss on someone.

lindseydoyle 5 years, 2 months ago

The mainstream media is terrified by groups like the Tea Party movement. Just look at the lies they reported on the Sep 12th march on Washington and then not another word. Pitts is just a mainstream media hack. That's why they gave him one of their Pulitzers. The Republicans need these groups a lot more than these groups need the Republicans.

gogoplata 5 years, 2 months ago

Beyond that, partiers are an unwieldy amalgam of tax haters, global warming holdouts, illegal-immigration protesters, secessionists, gun rights advocates, white supremacists, militia types and conspiracy theorists, all banging their gongs at the same time.

tax hater, check man made global warming holdout, check illegal-immigration protester, can't say I have a problem with immigration as long as the tax payer is not the one paying for it. secessionist, not yet but I do believe in states rights and the 9th and 10th ammendments gun rights advocate, check militia type, I do belive in a well regulated militia and the concept of a citizen soldier working better than the professional soldier with its effect on liberty and needless wars. conspiracy theorist, I don't care too much about most of that stuff.

somedude20 5 years, 2 months ago

I find it funny when talking with my friends about some of the stories on the LJW and they know right away about "Tom" and "Marion" (don't want to leave outComrade but he is new to the scene)and people of their ilk. I mean, these guys are great for a laugh as some of the things they say are so outlandish.

My friends and I thank you for the laugh! Beer, birthers, and one hell of a laugh

gogoplata 5 years, 2 months ago

My hope is that the tea party movement is an indication that Americans are waking up to the fact that big government democrats and big government republicans are taking this country in the wrong direction. A lot of people voted for Obama because he promised change. Some of those people now see that he is not much different than Bush, Clinton, and the list goes on. I'm for a change in the direction of smaller government.

beatrice 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Tom. The teabaggers are just part of the mainstream Repbulican party, and everyone else is the lunatic fringe "lamestream" left. The teabaggers represent the conservative movement as it stands in 'merica today.

gogoplata 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree that some of the teaparty are neocons trying to attach themselves to a popular movement. They forget that the modern teaparty movement started with Ron Paul.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

It's just the republican party pretending not to be friends with these critters. Yet Koch brothers are funding this teabagging operation. The Walton family aka Wal-Mart support Teabagger viewpoints.

Once again it's republcan party pulling the wool over the eyes of their followers and worshippers.

Lets not kid ourselves these are the same republicans that brought the lying "swift boaters" out to play.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

I think those in the tea party are men and women who work hard and are trying to raise a family by the values that they were taught and that they want to continue. They see a society that uses sex, alcohol, drugs and vulgar language so casually that they have acquired a neutral value. No right, no wrong, no stability. Added to that are those who truly believe that God created white men to rule the earth. They feel threatened, under siege because the world as they have been led to believe it should be is falling apart around them. They feel as though their back are up against the wall and soon they will feel they have nothing more to lose. Then what? I am trying to put myself into the mind of someone else in order to better understand them.

beatrice 5 years, 2 months ago

Irish, to achieve your goal of understanding this lot, best to just get a labotomy.

puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

I said it before, so I'll just remind y'all.

Teabaggers: tea party people using the platform (uh, did I just say platform?) for their own political gain and in essence, financial gain, like a carpet bagger. for instance, sarah palin is a teabagger-she was paid $100,000 to read talking points scribbled on her hand (alaska-teleprompter) to whoever was listening at the tea party convention.

teabaggers are pretty much just harmless.

puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

hey tom, maybe palin can win the election for mayor of linwood, then fix all yur problems? you betcha.

headdoctor 5 years, 2 months ago

anon1958 (anonymous) says... The Tea Party is fringe, but then again the desperation of Republicans is without limits. The republicans have let the John Birch Society back in their party and allow themselves to be bossed around by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.


WTH? The abomination's of the modern Republican party are no more Bircher's than I am the Pope. Even the abomination's of the modern Libertarian party can't even be linked to the John Birch Society, that is unless the modern Bircher's have turned over a new leaf to Socialism.

gogoplata 5 years, 2 months ago

The same GOP that says "small govt" and "lower taxes" and then expands government and starts wars. Who do they think is paying for their nanny/police state?

And why do they think that Americans will believe them the next time?

This is a good point. Very good point. We should not believe conservatives" who are preaching small government now who have been in office and done nothing to shink government. A lot of GOP supporters don't want to admit this just like a lot of the people who voted for "change" are having a hard time admitting that there really is no significant change.

The pattern here is that both democrats and republicans are liars. It is time to vote out the incumbents. I'd like the country to put some new blood into the government, hold them to their promises and if they don't deliver keep voting them out till we get politicians who listen to the people.

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