The Tea Party movement has, for the moment, organized and won a revolution against the Republican establishment. On the Democratic side there is still a civil war which started in 2008.
Yesterday Peter Daou published a widely red and discussed article about how “liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency” which ignores the real history and the reasons why Barack Obama is in trouble.
First the Tea Party and what we saw.
At the very beginning of the Tea Party movement we recognized it as a genuine grass roots uprising (see “Weak Obama, Strong Tea“, “The Meaning Of The Tea Parties: No Taxation Without Representation“, “The People Are Revolting“). We respected the movement and advised it had the potential to wreck Barack Obama’s Dimocratic maladministration.
Most, if not all, Obama Dimocrats laughed at the Tea Party and preferred the disrespectful term “teabaggers” to mock the movement with that sexually tinged epithet. Nancy Pelosi called for investigations into the finances of these grass roots activists and the word “astroturf” was utilized with abandon to smear these citizens.
That the Republican establishment wants to put a saddle on the bucking bronco Tea Party movement there is no doubt. Therein lies a tale of the difference between astroturf and genuine grassroots:
“I just finished Kate Zernike’s sympathetic, and quite useful, book on the beginnings of the Tea Party movement, “Boiling Mad,” which consists largely of portraits of the people, mostly women, organizing on a ground level.
The book also rebuts the notion that the movement is an “astroturf” creation of the Koch brothers, in part by showing how many times Koch groups and others tried and failed, often laughably, to create such a movement.
You can’t, it seems, just can’t conjure these things out of the air.
FreedomWorks, had been “trying to grow a grassroots movement” since 1984, she writes:
It had not had much success. Every April 15, FreedomWorks would hold protests outside post offices across the country — “Hate your taxes? Join us!” — but they rarely attracted more than a handful of people.
It had even proposed the idea of a modern-day Boston Tea Party — more than once. “Do you think our taxes are too high and our tax code too complicated? We do!” the site proclaimed, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” piped in the background. It mocked Tom Daschle, then the Democratic Senate Mmajority leader, in a cartoon video game where a visitor to the site could click on boxes of tea to dump in the harbor while “Redcoat Daschle” stood on the wharf demanding, “Gimme all your money.”
In 2007, Dick Armey and Freedom Works’ Matt Kibbe “wrote an op-ed proposing the Boston Tea Party as a model of grassorots pressure on an overbearing central government.”
They couldn’t get it published anywhere.”
Today, in the New York Times, Stanley Fishman rewrites what we wrote a year and a half ago:
“Liberal pundits and the politicians whose agendas they favor continue to misunderstand the Tea Party movement and, what is worse, fail to realize how much the disdainful tone of their criticism fuels it. This may be changing now as the ominous signs proliferate… [snip]
The usual response to each tea part victory has been to say (1) it’s a one-off aberration (2) the primary turnout was low and unrepresentative and (3) he or she could never win in the general election. This has even been the position of the Republican party regulars who have often opposed the upstarts. [snip]
These developments have led Time magazine to conclude (in its Sept. 27 cover story) that we are seeing a “shaking up [of] the Republican party,” and columnist Mark Halperin follows suit in the same issue when he says that the Tea Party success “spells danger for [the Republican party’s] long term future.”
That all sounds familiar. It is the criticism we heard when we defended the Tea Party movement as legitimate and much more powerful and inclusive that the caricature from the unthinking Obama Left. Fishman then addresses the willful blindness of the “reality based, creative class”:
“But this, I think, is the wrong conclusion and shows how far progressives will go to avoid looking directly at a phenomenon they have trouble believing in. It would be more accurate to say that the Republican party now sees where its future lies, and it will cozy up to the new kids on the block (as it has already done in the case of O’Donnell) and ride their coattails to a victory even larger than the one they have been looking forward to.
And the Democrats will be helping them by saying scathing and dismissive things about the Tea Party and its candidates. [snip] The Tea Party’s strength comes from the down-to-earth rhetoric it responds to and proclaims, and whenever high-brow critics heap the dirt of scorn and derision upon the party, its powers increase.
Commentators who explain smugly that O’Donnell’s position on masturbation (that it is a selfish, solitary act) is contradicted by her Ayn Rand-like attack on collectivism, or who wax self-righteous about Paladino’s comparing Sheldon Silver to Hitler and promising to wield a baseball bat in Albany, or who laugh at Sharron Angle for being in favor of Scientology (she denies it) and against fluoridation and the Department of Education, are doing these candidates a huge favor. They are saying, in effect, these people are stupid, they’re jokes; and the implication (sometimes explicitly stated) is that anyone who takes them the least bit seriously doesn’t get the joke and is stupid, too.
We the people hear this and know who is being talked about, and react with anger: “Don’t presume to tell me what to think and whom to vote for just because you have more degrees than I do. I don’t know much about these people but if you guys are against them, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
And if they don’t exactly say that, the recently unveiled “Pledge to America” says it for them in its money quote: “An arrogant out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites make decisions, issue mandates, and enact laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.” The many grow and become more robust every time a self-satisfied voice from the political or media establishment dumps on their spokespersons. Mayor Bloomberg may be right when he says (in explaining his endorsement of Cuomo over Paladino) that “anger is not a governing strategy,” but it sure is a campaign strategy and it is one the Tea Party and the Republicans it has tutored know how to execute.”
Our long ago advice to respect and not mock was not listened to. We knew our advice would not be listened to by Obama supporters. Our advice was aimed at Hillary supporters and the network of Hillary supporter sites which were conflicted if not outwardly hostile to the Tea Party movement. Today, in retrospect, Fishman details the consequences and stupidity of the anti-Tea Party mockery:
“What to do? It is easier, of course, to say what not to do, and what not to do is what Democrats and their allies are prone to do — poke gleeful fun at the lesser mortals who say and believe strange things and betray an ignorance of history.
That won’t work. [snip] Don’t sling mud down in the dust where your opponents thrive. Instead, engage them as if you thought that the concerns they express (if not their forms of expression) are worthy of serious consideration, as indeed they are. [snip]
It’s at least worth a try, because the way things are going we may soon be looking at Senator O’Donnell, Governor Paladino and, down the road a bit, President Palin.”
The Democratic Civil War.
Peter Daou (he worked for Hillary in 2008) started to write an article about the “frightening case of Anwar al-Aulaqui” then veered off into how “liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency”. There are interesting points raised by Daou but he misses the source of Obama’s troubles. Here’s Daou:
“The body of the post remains the same, but I wanted to add further context in light of yet another slap at the left by the Obama team, in this case, VP Biden telling the base to “stop whining,” as well as breaking news that Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House this week.
When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn’t specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters.
With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*.
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.
The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority – the mosque speech comes to mind – these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans.
Some will dismiss them as minor players in the wider national discourse, but two things make them a thorn in the administration’s side:
a) they have a disproportionately large influence on the political debate, with numerous readers and followers — among them major media figures
b) they develop the frames and narratives that other progressive Obama critics adopt and disseminate
I’ve argued for some time that the story of Barack Obama’s presidency is the story of how the left turned on him. And it eats him up. You know it from Robert Gibbs, you know it from Rahm Emanuel, you know it from Joe Biden and you know it from Obama himself.”
This is sheer nonsense from Daou. “Principles above Party” from that crew of cheerleaders for Obama’s election? That’s a laughable argument. The “same complaints” as against Bush? Rubbish. If George W. Bush had done what Obama had done these bloggers would have called for impeachment, trial, and imprisonment of B.O. (contrast their reactions with our own “Impeach, Remove, Imprison Barack Obama?“) long ago. Daou’s main point is actually evidence in favor of our argument and contrary to what Daou writes:
“Case in point: the extraordinarily disturbing case of Anwar al-Aulaqi:
The Obama administration urged a federal judge early Saturday to dismiss a lawsuit over its targeting of a U.S. citizen for killing overseas, saying that the case would reveal state secrets. The U.S.-born citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, is a cleric now believed to be in Yemen. Federal authorities allege that he is leading a branch of al-Qaeda there. Government lawyers called the state-secrets argument a last resort to toss out the case, and it seems likely to revive a debate over the reach of a president’s powers in the global war against al-Qaeda.
Aulaqi is an odious and dangerous character and should be brought to justice for any crimes he committed. Still, the alarm on the left over this astonishing presidential overreach is entirely justifiable.”
The whining from these willfully gullible, now feeling betrayed bloggers, is irrelevant – what do they propose to do is the only point of interest. Greenwald whines that this is “an all-new low”, Digby whines that this is the “most shocking assertion of unfettered presidential power… I don’t think anyone expected the Democratic constitutional scholar would actually double down on the dictatorial powers. I confess, I’m fairly gobsmacked.”
Well, we’re not “gobsmacked” at all. We knew this would happen and that’s why we have always advocated against Barack Obama and started our series of “Obama is the Third Bush Term” (don’t miss the pictures in the lower right hand column of this website).
Where Daou makes a worthwhile contribution is with this:
“Political observers are mystified over the demise of hope, with everything from the economy to health care posited as the reason, but as I’ve argued time and again, it’s the moral authority, stupid:
Pundits put forth myriad reasons to explain the GOP wave (jobs and the economy topping the list), but they invariably overlook the biggest one: that Obama and Democrats have undermined their own moral authority by continuing some of Bush’s’ most egregious policies … Everything flows from the public’s belief that you stand for something. The most impressive legislative wins lose their force if people become convinced you’ll sell out your own values.”
Make no mistake: “sell out your own values” is the crux of the problem. On April 22, 2008, the day of the Pennsylvania primary we gave Howard Dean a deadline.
“We have our own Howard Dean Deadline: seat the Florida and Michigan delegations, without backroom deals, by the end of May or risk a Party rupture worse than 1968.
Dean/Obama/Brazile/Pelosi are trying to steal this election the way Bush stole the election in 2000. They risk a Democratic Party rupture more profound and long lasting than the 1968 convention.”
We were mocked and disregarded in the same way the Tea Party has been mocked and disregarded. One month later, on Memorial Day 2008, the Democratic Civil War began:
“The Democratic Party is now engaged in the opening battles of a Civil War. As in the 1860s this war cannot be avoided. Fort Sumter has been fired upon…. Thus far, the Democratic? Party Civil War has been contained to the presidential level. At some point however those Democratic? officials and office holders who endorsed Obama will be held to account. As Kristen Breitweiser wrote Those who are responsible for putting Democrats in the broken place we are in right now with regard to Barack Obama had better own it to the end. Leave those bumper stickers on and wear those campaign pins until the bitter end folks because YOU OWN IT. And people are going to want to know whose [sic] to blame…. The Democratic? Party Civil War has begun. It will spread.
There is a Democratic Civil War…. the question is whether the Civil War spreads down ticket from the Presidential level this election cycle or the next…. The Democratic Civil War, much like the great split that occurred when the courageous Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, will be about Civil Rights and Respect – this time for Women.“
It is no surprise to us that women are at the forefront of the Tea Party movement and that this is sometimes called the “Year of the Republican Women”. There is an atavistic memory of what was done to women in 2008 by Obama Dimocrats and there is an ocean size wound at the heart of the democratic process inflicted by Obama Dimocrats. None of that is forgotten.
For the moment the Tea Party activists have kept the saddle off their backs and put it on the back of the Republican establishment. That establishment, once in power, will begin to try to cast off the saddle. That fight will continue. The Democratic Civil war will also continue up to and after November 2, 2010. What happens after November 2, remains to be seen.
Is it possible that the Tea Party activists and the Democratic opposition to Barack Obama and his thugs have more in common that any of us realize? You betcha!. There is this intriguing article making the rounds these days:
“Every generation or so, a major secular shift takes place that shakes up the existing paradigm. It happens in industry, finance, literature, sports, manufacturing, technology, entertainment, travel, communication, etc.
I would like to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring in politics.
For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, Tax Cuts vs. More Spending, Pro-War vs Peaceniks, Environmental Protections vs. Economic Growth, Pro-Union vs. Union-Free, Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets.
The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power. The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.
This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing. [snip]
For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit.
What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.”
There was no difference because it is all a fake. The current forces of the Left and the Right are fakes. The Tea Party is infusing substance and reality from the bottom up to the right side of the debate and getting rid of its fakes.
On the Left all we have are fakes as exemplified by Trauma Obama. The arguments are fake and the players are fake. Unlike the bottom-up Tea Party just about every organization on the Left is a fake more interested in power for itself than for the concerns of constituents.
On November 2, 2010 the Tea Party controlled Republican Party will rejoice their many victories and prepare to select their next presidential nominee.
On November 3, 2010 the Democratic Civil War will continue until Barack Obama is driven out of office and influence – and one woman, one vote (that vote counted as intended), is restored.