Thursday, April 16, 2009

Republicans Behaving Badly

As dutifully reported in the New York Times, etc., and loudly trumpeted over conservative talk radio, the Republicans staged a nationwide media event Wednesday, modeled on the Boston Tea Party. Except the Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation, which was never the issue in this case. And the Boston Tea Party was a rebellion against tyranny, while this one was a rebellion in favor of same. And the Boston Tea Party was a meaningful historical event, while this one was a cynical, vacuous and irresponsible attempt by Republican diehards to salvage some measure of public respect in the face of devastating losses at the polls.

Here are some choice excerpts from the NY Times report:

Although organizers insisted they had created a nonpartisan grass-roots movement, others argued that these parties were more of the Astroturf variety: an occasion largely created by the clamor of cable news and fueled by the financial and political support of current and former Republican leaders.

Fox News covered the events all day with reporters and hosts at the scenes. Neil Cavuto, a Fox host, and Michelle Malkin, a conservative contributor, headlined the protests in Sacramento while Sean Hannity broadcast his show from the protests in Atlanta.

The Web site listed its sponsors, including FreedomWorks, a group founded by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader; Top Conservatives on Twitter; and

The idea for the demonstrations grew in part out of a blast from Rick Santelli, a CNBC commentator who on Feb. 19 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said that the Obama administration was promoting “bad behavior” in helping people who were at risk of losing their homes and that Americans should protest with a tea party in Chicago.
Amazing that the Republicans would have the chutzpah to stage a "populist revolt" so blatantly out of touch as to focus on the same old same old conservative agenda items we've been hearing about for years: those "tax and spend" Democrats (yawn), "big government" (double yawn), and how we just gotta protect the "free market" from the "socialist agenda" of Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats. While knowledgeable economists are expressing legitimate concern over the Obama administration's giveaway of trillions in taxpayer money to the same Wall St. insiders whose greed and stupidity got us into this mess, all the Republicans can see is "creeping socialism." Ye Gods! Obama and Geithner are bending over backwards to avoid even the appearance of nationalization, but in Republican eyes their all-out effort to save the capitalist system from itself translates into a socialist agenda.

Even if the age old diatribes against "tax and spend" Democrats and "big government" had some validity (they don't), you'd think at least some in the Republican leadership would have the sense to realize that there is something profoundly different about the present situation than anything we've encountered before. Obama's desperate efforts to revive the economy are not attempts to broaden the scope and power of government -- they simply reflect the realization, shared by most economists, that the federal government is the institution of last resort when all else fails. While his program involves the spending of astronomical sums, relatively little of that will be due to tax increases, and the increases he is recommending will affect only a small minority of the wealthiest and most privileged among us. While I disagree with Obama's futile attempts to shore up a failed "free market" system, it's clear that something has to be done -- and short of initiating a program based on multiple nationalizations of certain failed institutions, a program favored by economists of both the left and right, it's hard to imagine much in the way of an alternative -- aside from the socialist-oriented planned economy conservatives profess to fear the most, which Obama clearly opposes.

Sure, Obama's stimulus package includes various items he sees as important, why wouldn't it? He was elected, McCain wasn't. The Democrats are the majority party, the Republicans aren't. So what planet do you have to live on to see traditionally Democratic values expressed in a Democratic program? The majority of the voters obviously endorsed those values or they wouldn't have voted for them, so Obama's program is clearly an expression of the popular will -- and he is still, despite all the doubters, commanding tremendous support in the polls.

As for the avatars of conservative talk radio who've been loudly trumpeting this event, I'm reminded of an ancient limerick found inscribed on a hardened paleopolitical turd during the Age of Socio-Illogical Innocence:

There once was a ninny named Hannity
Whose verbiage verged on inanity.
The rant of this fool,
Was pure bull stool,
With the stench of a flatulent manatee.


  1. Swell blog! I collect stuff for the Brecht Forum in NYC--a new site for left analysis of things crisis-like: hope you find it useful.
    ethanyoung at

  2. Hi Ethan. I went to the Brechtforum, but I'm confused. I see the name Brecht. But nothing about him. I see the word "forum," but there is none, just some announcements about upcoming events. I'd love to participate in a Brecht forum -- maybe you have some ideas as to how to do that. Anyhow, you might find my own Brecht project of some interest, so here's the link:


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