Of Tea Parties And Hysterics

The tea parties that went on to commemorate Genuflection To The IRS Day have been a smashing success. A whole host of demonstrations popped up throughout the country and attracted large crowds. Public dissatisfaction with the bailout culture, massive deficit spending, and the general assault against free market capitalism manifested itself and made its presence felt in the national media. Try as some of the various news organizations did to downplay the effect of the tea parties, it cannot be denied that they made an impact.

Naturally, this success worries the defenders of Big Government; so much so that while pretending not to be concerned about the effect of the tea parties, opponents of small government have gone on the warpath to make their disdain clear. It’s a curious sight to see well-educated, fairly erudite individuals veer wildly from “these tea parties don’t matter in the long run and are beneath our attention” to “HOW DARE THESE . . . THESE . . . TEABAGGERS (hahahaha, I made a funny!) EXERCISE THEIR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS LIKE THIS?!?!” The effect would be hysterical if the issue weren’t so serious.

For one thing, let’s make it clear that by using epithets like “teabaggers,” those who disdain the tea parties make clear to reasonable people of reasonable sensibilities that they cannot be taken seriously as opponents and interlocutors. I mean, honestly. Name-calling? Is that the best that the likes of David Shuster and Andrew Sullivan can do? I know five-year olds who can come up with better insults, and most of them probably know better than to inject playground humor into the matter. Of course, from the standpoint of tea party organizers, few things could be better than to have one’s opponents so nakedly show their fear through lame, desperate attempts at humor. I suppose that some of us, however, keep looking for worthy debate opponents. Scratch Sullivan, Shuster, and others who substitute insults for argument off the list, though their evident concern that they are on the wrong side of a red-hot political issue nourishes the rest of us.

If we don’t have to put up with name-calling, we have to contend instead with–wait for it!–arguments that the tea parties are not wholly spontaneous grassroots developments and that their is some organizational effort behind them. Funny; as Jon Henke has mentioned, those on the port side of politics have gone from “Jesus was a community organizer” to “community organizing is astroturf!” Speaking of the great and good Mr. Henke, he nicely demolishes Paul Krugman on the matter of “astroturfing,” and points out that back in the day, quite a lot of port-side groups were involved with astroturfing grassroots organizing of their own. Was there as much consternation on the Left over “astroturfing” when International ANSWER, the Center for American Progress, and other port-side organizations coordinated and organized protests and grassroots political movements during the Bush Administration? I doubt it. Compounding their error, many of the anti-tea party set have been waxing enraged over the claim that the tea parties are organized by Fox. Given that MSNBC is behind much of the effort to gleefully popularize the “teabagging” epithet, I’m not going to lose sleep over this. After all, why beholdest thou the Fox that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the MSNBC that is in thine own eye?

To round out the . . . um . . . interesting bits of commentary we have been witness to concerning the tea parties, consider this, from Paul Begala, who tries desperately to engage in Lakoffian framing by calling April 15th “Patriots’ Day.” No, he’s not making it up. Apparently, no one told Begala that doing something that one is compelled by law to do isn’t exactly all that patriotic, just mandatory. But if Begala is right, does this mean that Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner, Charlie Rangel, Nancy Killefer, and Kathleen Sebelius are not patriotic?

Who could have known that some tea parties would inspire so much shrill commentary?

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