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Bill Black: The Tea Party’s Tactical Brilliance and Strategic Incompetence

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Yves here. While I agree with most of Black’s assessment, I take issue with his Fox News v. James Stewart/Stephen Colbert argument. Each preaches to its own choir. One can also argue that the Tea Party is still misunderstood. Michael Lind provided the best single analysis I’ve seen so far in a piece that describes it as the “newest right” which promotes the interests of “local notables” who are wealthy leaders in their communities but second-tier nationally. Thus Tea Partiers are best positioned to act as spoilers rather than drive national political initiatives. But as Black indicates, they may have played the spoiler role too aggressively in the shutdown/debt ceiling row for their own long-term good.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posed from New Economic Perspectives

The Tea Party and its (non) think tanks have proven that they are tactically brilliant in manipulating the Republican Party, but strategically incompetent. Today’s Senate Bill, which will be forced down the House Tea Party members’ throats, is the result of that strategic incompetence. The Tea Party has learned that there are a few things many GOP elected officials are still unwilling to do. Specifically, once the admittedly slow-witted House GOP leadership realized that the Tea Party had marched it to the far edge of a bridge to nowhere and the choices were (Option One: suicide) to keep marching off the bridge into the river (doing grave harm to the Nation and the world, ruining the GOP “brand,” returning the House to control by the Democratic Party, and threatening their own seats or (Option Two: truce) to stop and beg the Democrats for a truce – the GOP leadership would abandon the Tea Party and blame it for the humiliating rout.

The Tea Party and entities like Heritage understand how to extort the Republican Party and its Congressional leaders. They made it seem to be political suicide for the House GOP leadership and members not to support the Tea Party’s extortion tactics against Obamacare. The Tea Party’s assumption that tactics that excelled against the GOP leadership would excel against the Democratic Party exhibited their lack of strategic understanding and proved that self-described “think tanks” like Heritage are oxymorons run by regular morons in which any thinking that differs from accepted dogma is grounds for instant expulsion of the apostate, e.g., David Frum.

The Tea Party strategy to defund Obamacare suffered from four fatal defects that were widely understood outside the Tea Party’s temples. First, Obamacare is President Obama’s signature “legacy” accomplishment and his senior staff revealed that Obama had already begun to obsess about his legacy by mid-2011. The GOP was demanding something that Obama could not give them.

Second, the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party. The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions. This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency. He would no longer have any meaningful domestic powers and would be mocked for his powerlessness and cowardice in refusing to stand up to the Tea Party. Indeed, because Obama promised not to give the GOP any concessions in response to extortion over the budget or debt ceiling he would also destroy his credibility should he cave to the Tea Party’s demands.

Third, neither of the Tea Party’s pressure points (shutting down the government and threatening to cause a default on U.S. debts) could work mechanically to shut down Obamacare. That meant that they could only succeed as means of extortion if they (a) caused so much damage to the Nation and the world that it became essential to end the extortion within at most a few days and (b) the Nation and the world would blame Obama rather than the Tea Party for the Tea Party’s actions. The Tea Party’s threat was taken straight out of the riff in the movie Blazing Saddles where the sheriff, threatened by a lynch mob, pulls his gun, points it as his head, and warns the mob that if they don’t stop he’ll shoot. The reason it’s a joke is that it is nonsensical. The Tea Party saw the movie and loved the riff, but they never “got” the joke. The Tea Party understood that threatening to force a U.S. default was the equivalent of wielding an elephant gun. The Tea Party forgot that they were pointing the gun at their own head, but everyone else saw that they had done so and wondered when they would wise up.

Fourth, the Tea Party remembered the Fox network but forgot the existence of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report. Every time Fox tried to claim that the Tea Party was not responsible for its actions the denial created an opening for Stewart and Colbert to roll the tape on what the Tea Party caucus members had actually said, including classics such as Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s admission: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

The Tea Party’s transcendent strategic failure however was picking Obamacare as the objective rather than the safety net. I have been warning that Obama’s confidants have repeatedly revealed that Obama believes his best hopes of a positive “legacy” is what he calls the “Grand Bargain” (which I explained actually represented the “Grand Betrayal”). The Grand Betrayal would raise some taxes, make materially deeper discretionary spending cuts in social programs, and make very large but opaque cuts in the safety net. The Grand Betrayal would inflict triple damage on our Nation. It would inflict even greater austerity, further weakening the recovery. It would harm effective social programs at a time when they are most needed give the large increases in poverty. It would harm the safety net directly and would serve to legitimize much deeper cuts in the future when the GOP controls the federal government. Only a president that the GOP can portray as a “liberal” can make it safe for Republicans to attack the safety net and to work towards their great dream – privatizing Social Security so that Wall Street’s billionaires can get even wealthier by looting our retirement savings.

Obama has been eagerly seeking to inflict the Grand Betrayal since 2011. The irony is that had he succeeded the resultant second recession would have made him a one-term president. The Tea Party has prevented the deal by being unwilling to take “yes” for an answer from Obama. The Tea Party could have skipped all the extortion and negotiated the Grand Betrayal with Obama. The Republican leadership has attempted to negotiate the deal, but the Tea Party keeps blocking it. Nevertheless, the Grand Betrayal is so available and so obviously in the political interests of the GOP and the Tea Party that the odds remain good that even the Tea Party will eventually say yes and give Obama the legacy he desires as the Democrat who led the unraveling of the safety net. Obama may yet snatch defeat from victory and the Tea Party, when all else fails, may snatch victory from defeat by agreeing to the Grand Betrayal.

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91 comments

  1. nobody

    In discussions about “The Tea Party,” this angle is worth consideration:

    We were anarchists and ultra-libertarians, but above all we were peaceful. So, the media tried painting us as racists. But when that didn’t work they tried to goad us into violence. When that failed, they killed our movement with money and false kindness from the theocratic arm of the Republican party. That killed our popular support.

    I am sharing these observations, so you guys know what’s going on and can prevent the media from succeeding in painting you as violent slacker hippies rebelling without a cause, or from having the movement be hijacked by a bunch of corporatists seeking to twist the movement’s original intentions. If you think this can’t happen, it happened to the Independence Party and the tea party movement. Don’t let it happen to your movement as well.

    Here’s how they turned our movement into a bunch of pro-corporate Republican Party rebranding astroturf…

    http://www.reddit.com/r/occupywallstreet/comments/kyjo2/an_open_letter_and_warning_from_a_former_tea/

      1. Anonymous

        When you say “we are taxed enough already,” you need to qualify your use of the word “we.” Although middle class workers may be “taxed enough already,” the billionaires like the Bill Gates, David Kochs, and Warren Buffets of the world are NOT TAXED ENOUGH. Why the hell should the ultra-rich pay a 15% effective tax rate and still keep millions of dollars of income for sitting on their a$$es speculating on stocks all day when middle class workers who undergo wage slavery working a nine-to-five job pay 20% to 40% effective tax rates and only get to keep several thousands of dollars at best of their yearly income? And don’t give me that garbage about how we need rich people to create jobs! Of course rich people create jobs – in other countries!

        1. nobody

          I did not say “we are taxed enough already,” and since I never used the word “we,” I don’t see why I need to qualify its usage.

          Nor did I give you any garbage about how “we” need rich people to create jobs.

          I suggest you watch the Mad As Hell clip linked to above about how YOU are being extracted. YOU.

      2. craazyboy

        I’ve paid 40% to 45% in payroll withholding (with no deductions) plus cap gain taxes during my few peak glory years.

        Only took slightly more than $100K working income, plus liquidating my life savings (capital gains) during the slow motion, rolling, stock market meltdown of 1999-2002.

          1. Bruno Marr

            Exactly. Just scale back the MIC/NSA and spend money on schools, teachers, health services and Living in the U.S.(S.R.) becomes more vibrant. (Americans just need to stop hating each other.)

    1. Binky Bear

      Except no. This is ex post facto romanticization of what was a cynically founded, lavishly funded, carefully planned effort by wealthy elites to purchase the illusion of popular support for policies that no one really wants. When it blew up it became the home for every outrageous fringe group on the loopy right.
      It’s the neolibertarian version of the Lost Cause. Nobody is buying it except those who need to rationalize the disaster it has become.

      1. nobody

        No, it is not an “ex post facto romanticization of what was a cynically founded, lavishly funded, carefully planned effort by wealthy elites to purchase the illusion of popular support for policies that no one really wants.” It is “[a]n open letter and warning from a former tea party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement.” It circulated widely in Occupy social media circles in the early weeks of the occupations.

        It is an interesting data point, circulated at a point in time roughly halfway between the appearance of The Tea Party on the media/political scene and where we are right now.

    1. optimader

      The political roulette wheel, who’s the least dishonest… where will the bouncing ball land?

      Even the blind mouse scores a piece of cheese occasionally

    2. Lambert Strether

      That Booker only took 55%, given his backing, in an off-year election, is astonishing.

      I think Booker’s a fun candidate. He’s just like Obama, except without the integrity.

  2. savedbyirony

    Here’s what i still see standing in the way of a grand betrayel coming to pass. None of these politicians want to be seen as the direct cause of safety net cuts (at least not to Social Security) Ok, probably Obama doesn’t care because he’ll never face another election again and he will have achieved a major Neoliberal coupe. But i just don’t see any other pols wanting to directly have their fringer prints on cutting S.S. People like P.Peterson have been trying for years and years to move the public into gutting S.S. and for the most part all they get back is the majority of Americans saying “cut the military and RAISE S.S. benefits plus shore up its funding for the future”. Also, i read that fine piece on the Tea Party and if the author is correct about the TP being morev about local centers of power, then they are very base dependent. Why should the TP want to be seen as being a leading cause for S.S. cuts? I doubt their base wants to see their benefits gutted. I realize that when it comes to trying to spin the entitlement cuts before and past the American people the use of opaque gutting is key, but the one thing about safety net programs (and perhaps Social Security especially) is that their defenders can mobilze quickly and effectively to throw plenty of light into the darkness and put their messages out there quite visibly before large amounts of people. Frankly, since 2011 i don’t think they have ever really stood down in their vigilence. So even with a bipartisan comittee of blackhearted mutually desiring Grand Betrayers, just how do people here think they will try to sell it publicly and who in all this will be willing to be or just plain stuck with taking the political fall (if they can pull it off)?

    1. pwelder

      The great thing about inflation is that it doesn’t have to have any elected official’s fingerprints on it. Nominal benefits go up 1%, cost of living goes up 3%, and in 10 years or so the problem is solved.

    2. charles sereno

      You’re right that “opaque gutting” of SS won’t work. It’s just too hard to disguise evisceration. On the other hand, “occult compensation” (for the elites, that is) might work. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines occult compensation as “An extra-legal manner of recovering from loss or damage; the taking, by stealth and on one’s private authority, of the value or equivalent of one’s goods from a person who refuses to meet the demands of justice.” Of course, the kleptocrats have special meanings for some of these terms. For example, “extra-legal” refers to the services of white shoe law firms, lobbyists, and political bag men; “justice” pertains to the deserving rich. An example of occult compensation is the maximum taxable amount on income for SS. This converts an already “flat” tax into a regressive one. Do all workers 53 years old or less realize that their retirement age will be 67, not 65? That’s how “occult” works. We’re fortunate that the greedy idiots slip up occasionaly. Using the emotion word “chained,” as in chained CPI, was a BIG mistake.

      1. savedbyirony

        Yes, i really wondered about their use of “chained”, too. (Although, i thought maybe it was an example of their hubris letting a little of their behind-the-curtains political sadomasicochism slip thru.)They would have been much better off using “crocheted”.

      2. rps

        You’re right that “opaque gutting” of SS won’t work. It’s just too hard to disguise evisceration…..

        Perhaps not evisceration. Rather, the Grand Plan is the death of SS “dispersal” by a million papercuts. Mind you, not to end FICA but the end of distribution. Thus, the never-ending onslaught against future retirees by raising the age to collect SS to the point where most receipients will be dead. As we all know, the Income Cap needs to be removed on SS. However, it protects incomes over $113,700 –in other words the wealth provision platinum club protection of not paying into the system. We also know, Republic governance has been usurped by corporations. Behind congressional doors, Corps. dictate social safety-net systems: wages,hours, benefits etc.. Once again we are the enslaved citizenry.

        The elephant in the room dilemna we face as a society is the age discrimination feature -its not a bug- starting at age 45 and upwards. That is to say, the Right to Work law; firing/laying off/job insecurity is the new norm. The mastering of a craft – age experience commensurates with income- is grounds to be fired. However, this feature has a major flaw. Its awakened the Rip Van Winkle baby boomer citizenry; too ‘old’ to work but too young to collect SS. This leaves few choices for those who’ve run out of unemployment insurance. They’re collecting Disability from SS until they reach the ripe old age of 67. Also, if they are lucky enough to have an IRA, Roth, 401k nest egg -they are draining the Wall St. swamp in-spite of the ‘age’ taxation penalty feature- younger than 59 1/2. Gee, the geniuses on Wall St, truly f-uped on this one. No jobs for baby boomers forces them into early pensions and early withdrawal of retirement funds.

        We are not robots, but subject to our human fragility as seen in the emotional distress of job loss incurred through age discrimination without recourse or future employment. Welcome to SS disability claims.

        1. savedbyirony

          Yes, i very much agree with your discription of the grand plan and that it has been in the works and working away for quite sometime. (And doesn’t Obamacare as well, overtime, look to put more Americans in earlier graves.) I also agree with what you are saying about S.S. disability and how it is being turned to by people as a bridge; but will add that i think it is being used by the powers that be as both a means of keeping unemployment numbers down while also being spun as a propaganda tool to influence more afluent Americans against these benefits and thus Social Security as a whole(such as how the recent 60 minutes “report” described the present situation.)That’s the grand plan, but Obama wants a grand betrayal; a much larger blood letting in one gash (and thus far more obvious one). I suppose i can see how this adds to his legacy in his own neoliberal mind and in certain tribes of the elites. But what i still don’t see is his leverage to get any of the other people sitting at any grand bargaining table to go along with it. Why should they deal with the public fall-out for his legacy and post-Pres. income? The grand plan, given the circumstance right now, still works more for their favor.

      3. maude

        I have known that I had to wait till age 67 since 1987 and also who doubled the FICA so that I have been funding not only current retirees but my own future benefits for the past 26 years. I have been pissed ever since! Believe me, I get up on that soapbox whenever the opportunity comes up.

        1. anon y'mouse

          this idea that you can get on SSDI to deal with age discrimination or other employment needs to end.

          you can’t just “get on” SSDI. you have to have a demonstrable medical condition that significantly impairs your ability to find paid work.

          I’ve known people that had 4 different doctors explain to SSDI that they had MS that were still denied. in my partner’s denial letter, they told him outright “just because your doctors say that you are disabled doesn’t mean that we consider you disabled.”

          meanwhile, his doctor is telling him “perhaps you can get a job punching parking tickets somewhere.” uhh, considering he is out of whack so badly that he can barely drive his car half the week, I don’t think any employer will put up with the various limitations that his conditions impose upon him on a daily basis. you can’t just call the employer and say “sorry, i’m too dizzy to stand up & walk around today.”

          it isn’t easy to get on SSDI. even if something is BADLY wrong with you. the only individuals who are granted instant access that I know about are the terminally ill.

  3. Hugh

    The Democrats and Republicans are complementary evils. It is a mistake to look at either in isolation. The Tea Party Republicans are just the crazier end of “those crazy Republicans”. If they didn’t exist, Democrats would have to invent them. The Tea Party’s running out the default crisis to the last minute will probably make it easier to sell a Great Betrayal gutting of Social Security in December or January.

    The truth is the Great Betrayal of Social Security began back in 1983 with the Greenspan “reforms” which created fictitious surpluses which were really a backdoor tax on workers. Now that these are coming due and would need to be paid out of general revenues, Obama and the Democrats are conniving to reduce those outlays as much as possible so they can have more money for their empire, the rich, the military, their surveillance state, etc.

    Obama may certainly be obsessed by his legacy, but it is a legacy for and to his class, not us. Obamacare is a giveaway to corporations. It does nothing to connect people up with actual usable healthcare they can afford. And gutting Social Security is obviously not a legacy for which he will win praise from ordinary Americans.

    And that’s the thing. Tea Party Republicans may have given their party a blackeye at the moment, but I can’t help thinking this will be more than offset by the unending train wreck that is Obamacare. I mean people for whom the recession of 2007 never ended are going to be seriously pissed when they realize that Obamacare is demanding they pay money they don’t have for what amounts to garbage coverage. And however Obama and the Democrats try to dress up gutting Social Security in the technocratese of Chained CPI, they won’t be able to hide the fact the real buying power of elders will be cut. So while Republicans may be damaged now, the Democrats have set themselves up to be damaged later, but that is the ratchet effect we should expect from complementary evils.

    1. AnyDay

      I recall when the payroll tax increased and a few voices warned that it was unnecessary and would create a surplus the govt would keep. I didn’t know what to think at the time, but it looks like that’s the plan. There’s an excellent chart I tried to post put couldn’t, from a 2011 Mother Jones article, “Only the Little People Pay Taxes” (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/taxes-richest-americans-charts-graph)
      that points out that payroll taxes now make up nearly as much of federal tax revenue as individual income tax. Meanwhile, revenues from corporate taxes have decreased significantly over the past 50 years. The increase in payroll tax revenue mirrors the decrease in corporate taxes. So you are right, FICA won’t go away, but we’ll never see the money.

  4. craazyboy

    Hugh, it is very important to believe that paying back the “Special Treasuries” in the SS Trust Fund is just as important as paying off Treasuries everywhere else.

    Otherwise, we will get screwed first, and everyone else will get screwed later. Not fair,

    1. Thisson

      Not really: those “special treasuries” are just a bookkeeping entry to keep score for how much has already been looted out of the fund. What actually matters is how many of the “normal treasuries” can be placed into the bond market before that market is effectively saturated, since those normal treasuries have to be placed into the market to finance payouts from the fund to its beneficiaries.

  5. vlade

    Thanks Yves. The “newest right” analysis does make quite a bit of sense (seen across the pond w/o knowing much of realties it alludes to). That said, if it’s right, it can be heartening as it’s (likely) demographically doomed.

    1. okie farmer

      No it doesn’t vlade, or Yves. At my last big family get-to-gather, Fourth of July, I counted my relatives who were TP supporters, 28 out of 33. My family live mostly in southern/southwestern states. So I was not surprised with my relatives’ TP support – 22 or 3 or them are hard core racists, who’ve never been interested, much less active in politics – UNTIL O got elected. A typical remark from one of my cousins after ’08 election: “Well, maybe the country needs a little nigger riggin’.” Many remarks at the reunion were much worse.

      Lind’s article talks about the TP being the resurrection of “Jacksonian, Confederate and Dixiecrat elites”, Lind also acknowledges how the civil rights movement changed the south, but no where does he acknowledge the incredibly racist roots of its supporters.

      1. Thisson

        You don’t have to be a racist to look at your paycheck and see that the net is half of the gross, and conclude that government is too big and spends too much.

        1. E Alexander

          :..your net paycheck is half the gross”

          True for yours, but not for Romney’s.

          Remember Romney’s was only 13% in the year he agreed to reveal. Probably lower in previous years.

      2. Massinissa

        I think Yves was talking more about tea party funders, than tea party supporters.

        How many of those relatives own PACs?

        1. Lambert Strether

          The article is about the class basis of the TP leadership outside the spokesholes in DC. That’s the “local notables.” To me, it shows why the TP is both ineradicable and not capable of taking national leadership. As a movement it’s regional (rather like, on the other end of the spectrum, the Dukakis campaign). All absent a successful secessionist movement, of course.

  6. Aussie F

    Isn’t this just a recapitulation of what everyone knows already: ‘progressive’ politics exclusively represents multinational capital. Te Republicans somewhat represent smaller, domestic operations (construction companies with a couple dozen employees, etc). Hence the Tea Party.
    Nobody represents working people. But that’s a feature of every capitalist ‘democracy’ in the world.

  7. PaulArt

    Thanks for that link to the Lind piece Yves. It made for very good reading. I think I now understand more about the Tea Party and where it comes from. Lind’s research hangs together beautifully like a well woven tapestry. It is exhilarating to know these old bags are fighting a rear guard action that is doomed to failure. I have never felt so optimistic in the last 20 years. It is pure joy to know that the extinction of the Southern White species is close at hand. Humankind can leap forward once we finally jettison this piece of trash from our body politic.

    1. Elvis

      Dim stereotypes, dumb notions coming from your sanctimonious mouth boy. You outta the loop boy. Whirr you from?

  8. Vedicculture

    The “Tea Party” is heavily tied to Hedge and Equity funds. The whole “libertarian” stigma and its Rand/Rothbard roots go back to this. While they may cross with capital on many issues, they generally seek rents through betting against money. That said, a severe contraction like they would bring acedemically, isn’t worth the trouble. More likely the deflation back to labor share would radicalize in a way, they would not want.

    Lew Rockwell got his first big loan from a equity firm manager.

    The modern Democrat Party is in transition. Leaving the Financial Services industry(as we see, they are spinning at Wall Street) and becoming a benefactor of domestic manufacturers. We see this conflict arising with Obama’s trade deal with Asia in major trouble inside the party itself.

    Obama is really out of touch with the party imo. Which has been a big part of the problem since the beginning. They are using him as a bridge to “Billiary” 2016, when the transition ends.

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      It’s the populist right, as last nights vote in the House shows, that is moving away from Wall St. This was the tell from last night: “Club for Growth, Heritage: Vote no; U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges yes vote.” And 144 -87 shows a remarkable turn away from Wall St for the GOP, and where will they turn?

      I don’t see the modern Democratic Party turning away from the financial backing of Wall St anytime soon. In fact, if anything, it’s going to increase. I don’t think Obama is an outlier at all, but a trend. Tell me who the new Paul Wellstone or Russ Fiengold is in the Senate? Maybe there’s a Occupy populist uprising and ousting in the works, in about 10 years.

      1. Lambert Strether

        We could see that in the 2008 bailouts. It was the conservative crazies who were fighting the bailouts tooth and nail — expressing the views of the country at large, I might add — while the leadership of both parties and the Democratic foot soldiers passed the bill in the House, with Obama whipping the Congressional Black Caucus to make it happen.

        A charming photograph from that period.

        1. Jerome Armstrong

          One thing I recall about that, was how Palin, never one to miss out on exploiting a populist moment, had to go against her gut political instinct, and come out in favor of that bank bailout alongside McCain. But yea, that was certainly a telling moment for the Democratic party’s priorities too.

          Palin has the social conservative baggage, and that’s the one big shackle that really keeps back the populist right from emerging with a national (or in many cases even statewide) majority. That’s going to be Rand Paul’s noose (right), and you can see it here in VA too. The empire-of-scum McAuliffe is going to win with a plurality because of Cucinelli’s social conservative positions.

      2. savedbyirony

        What about Sen. Warren? She’s not a progressive across the board, but she isn’t (at present) in Wall Street’s deep pocket; plus she has a growing national following and gets plenty of media face time.

        1. Lambert Strether

          From Warren’s post-TP-defeat triumphalism spam:

          We have serious problems that need to be fixed, and we have hard choices to make about taxes and spending.

          I read “hard choices” as code for “Grand Bargain.” Unless you think that, say, lowering the retirement age to 60 so young people can get some lousy jobs as Walmart greeters instead of the geezers is on the list of “hard choices”

          1. savedbyirony

            Well, i don’t know were she stands as far as gutting Social Security goes. She wasn’t in office for last grand bargaining back in 2011, but i don’t remember her being big on the cutting last winter. However, are you saying that she is being completely disingenuous (probably sic) every time she advocates for banking reform, better regulation and actual criminal prosecution of bankers? Are you saying that Wall Street purposely put such an active critic on the Senate banking comittee?

            1. savedbyirony

              ok, took the time to check -she was strongly against the chained cpi last march (and i got lucky on the spelling)

        2. Jerome Armstrong

          No, she didn’t even show up for being against the unilateral bombing of Syria. Can you imagine Wellstone or Fiengold not showing up on that? On any single issue, you can find someone that’s right-on among the Democrats, which is what being a pragmatic progressive is all about I guess. But even just taking the top three– taking on Wall St agenda of banks-first, the Pentagon global empire, the national surveillance & militarization– there’s not anyone anymore to do it in the Senate among the Democratic caucus.

          Rand Paul is the only one that even talks about those issues. And he has the framing of them all to himself.

          This fanciful notion that the populist anger at Government is aging white baby boomers alone, and that all the Democratic Party needs to do is be stasis and support the status quo of corporate-sponsored government, badly mistakes the temperature of the culture right now.

          1. savedbyirony

            Agreed about what you’re saying about Syria, but now you’re shifting from the topic with which you started this part of the discussion. i thought you were looking for a legit example of a Dem trying to break away from utter fawning to Wall Street. (and as for a comparison with the Tea Party in a comparable situation, if a Republican had been Pres. and pushing to attack Syria, do you think they would not have supported it?) The woman is a politican and it’s a hard, tactical occupation. You pick your fights, you build your connections and power, and then maybe you go on to pick new ones. She’s not a Wellstone right now, with that i do agree, but she is also only a first term Senator not even one full year in.

            1. savedbyirony

              Plus, if you are going to expand the issues to the top three, i would place serious campaign finance reform on that list and probably move the military down a peg. Warren is for that quite vocally, while R. Paul most certainly is not. And i don’t know where R. Paul falls on the Trans Pacific Partnership, but at least Warren is trying to bring public attention to it and the severe lack of info available concerning the negotiations (which, once again must put her as acting quite strongly against Wall Street’s desires.)

            2. Jerome Armstrong

              Good point, I did expand on it. I am referring to the progressive populist across the board. As far as Warren goes, with even the financial issues, I will wait and see how she votes when it’s on the line. Obama has a good game of talk too.

              1. savedbyirony

                Does Obama? I’ve never found his rhetoric in the least compelling or convincing. He just has power, money and a huge media machine behind him. But I’m nit picking; i know what you are saying. However, i can think of at least two times now right off the top of my head dealing with Financial matters when Warren clearly told Obama publicly, “Get stuffed!” One was last years chained cpi push (that behavior being one reason why i don’t think she’ll be willing to “bargain” or support any cut to S.S. -well, that and because she just last month soundly supported S.S. in her speech to the ACLU) and the other was last summer when Obama and Co. say to raising the interest rates on public student loans.

                1. savedbyirony

                  sorry, should be, “…Obama and co. chose to prevent the interest rates on public student loans from rising.”

                  1. savedbyirony

                    i think i mis-understood what you intended by, “…good game of talk.” and point taken. But Warren right now has a fairly short track record to go by, she’s not sitting in the Pres. seat and she certainly has fought a good battle for the CFPB to actually function and not just be a sham. Besides, how can we ever promote any progressive politicians if we won’t back any!? I mean, she can’t pass these legislations on her own, she needs power and public support to gain effectiveness to push such legislations. There aren’t any “successful” progressive politicians because it appears in good part we won’t support them until the work has already been done!

      3. savedbyirony

        Just to add, because you seem quite keen on all this and mentioned Occupy as a possible movement that could produce a successful progressive political leader (by “success” i mean able to get progressive legislation passed and to significantly change the terms and actual media means on and thru which we view and speak of economics and public social policy), i love Occupy and its activism, public envolvement and ideals. But philosopically as far as establishing a leadership modal and a functioning political machine to create and use effective public and behind the scenes power, i think it is seriously flawed. Realpolitics are not pretty and not especially idealistic, but if Occupy can’t generate an actual empowered leader who works for their reforms but can also effectively deal with harsh political waters without having to “process”, than they can’t be effective or will be simply used by charlatens for timely PR purposes. FDR was a wilely Ol’politician, not an idealist, who got things done both because he had serious public activism for new deal reforms behind him AND he knew how to work the levers of the nasty ruling machine.

  9. Roquentin

    Trying to draw false equivalency between the political right and left, efforts to “see both sides” are going to only make things worse. The Tea Party is not misunderstood, it is a hardcore reactionary political movement backed by billionaires who need the facade of populist support to enact their policies. The people who support them are patsies, plain and simple. I couldn’t care less if they want to describe themselves differently. They cannot be reasoned or bargained with, only beaten. I’m glad the Democrats are stonewalling them. They should have done it a long, long time ago.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      TPers exploited as useful idiots for a hidden agenda makes sense. ObamneyCare is too important for both klepto parties. It was merely a briar patch diversion for the RP, cover and concealment for the assault on the safety net. But notice how they made it worse with income verification? This will mean greater intrusion and control by the nice people at the banksters credit agencies.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I know that the TP is reactionary. Who doesn’t? What keeps me up at night, given what Obama’s done so far, is that the “progress” Democrats have in store for us is worse.

      Just because the frying pan is awful doesn’t make the fire better.

      NOTE Adding… Did it never occur to you that Obama and the Democrats didn’t assault the Republicans first because they had other priorities? Bail out the banks past the statute of limitations; consolidate Bush’s surveillance state; 17-city paramilitary crackdown of Occupy; bail out the health insurance industry with ObamaCare; normalize permanently high disemployment.

      That’s certainly a number of heavy lifts, as they say in DC, so it’s not surprising they wouldn’t get round to a relatively trivial matter like dealing with the Tea Party until now.

  10. Adriannzinha

    I certainly can appreciate the piece and the intent. There With that said, I still feel as though entirely too much emphasis is placed on the performance and lines of the actors. Far less is said about the directors and writers who scripted this entirely unconvincing bit of Washington theatre.

    Rather than entering into an analysis of the Tea Party shortcomings, I’d say they have played their part perfectly as a useful menace and foil to the other parties. Which is precisely what the directors envisioned.

    The Tea Party has provided perfect political cover for the nominal mainstream parties to lurch further right. All the while Democrats and Republicans can paint themselves as entirely rational while comfortably staking out positions that directly harm the vast majority of their own constituents. It’s a classic twist on the all-or-nothing, black-or-white logical fallacy.

    I’m reminded of the memorable appearance of the fraudster and gold pumper Alex Jones on Piers Morgan. Irrespective of an individual’s position on that debate, one almost certain conclusion the average viewer made is of Jones being a raving madman.

    Another function of the tea party is to corral otherwise disaffected members of the citizenry who might seek solutions outside the nominal political spectrum. This is a classic function of charlatans from Dennis Kucinich, Rand/Ron Paul, Al Sharpton, and Jessie Jackson who always redirect anger and disillusion from supporters back into futility of those stalwart political organs of America, the Republicans and Democrats.

    Lastly, I feel the Tea Party further serves to help create the illusion of significant and genuine debate within the American political apparatus. One of the jobs of the MSM is to wildly magnify token differences in policies and explain them as a vast gulf, all the while the Democrat and Republican action figures are standing an inch apart.

    Truthfully I’m more interested in long-term trends. One thing that can be readily ascertained from the sham and spurious debates of recent days, is that the public is in for a continuing and increasing dose of austerity. Not so for our NSA, Pentagon, Banker, and Oil-producing friends of course.

    I think most of us have some idea of where these trends may converge. An deepening and encroaching shadow of surveillance, sharp fall-off in public services, further pauperization of the masses, extinction of the already endangered middle class, disastrous adventures of foreign conquest….I wonder if the writers of this drama will succeed and what, if anything, might foment rebellion against this leviathan.

    tl;dr:

    Tea party makes Dems and Repubs right-wing positions look “reasonable” by comparison.

    Tea party channels dissent back into support for mainstream parties.

    Tea party creates illusion of debate and sharp divisions among the two big business parties.

    Resolution of spectacle is more austerity for the public, not the NSA, war machine, bankers, and Oil multinationals.

    Where does all this end?

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      Well, that’s traditionally what the major parties have done with these type of populist movements that spring up. Even when the Tea Party first sprung up, there was Obama highlighting deficits and how to reduce them in his SOTU a few years back. Hard to say how much momentum the populist right has with this one. I think calling it the Tea Party, at this point, is just a futile name-calling exercise for most, as it’s clearly at the hip now with the GOP, and into take-over Leadership mode.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Do you think the non-Teabaggers in the GOP aren’t fascists?

      They may not have the collective nativism of the Teabaggers, but they are fascists and have been fascists for a long time. Fascism is turning the state over to corporate interests while hiding behind the guise of patriotism.

      I know its convenient for Democrats who see their leaders routinely applaud the GOP “adults” to pretend they are anti-fascists, but it doesn’t change the state of the GOP.

      A great bipartisan coalition was behind:

      -Homeland Security which was designed to strip federal employees of their coverage under the Civil Servant Act; an issue the Democrats never took up while in power
      -cutting taxes
      -free trade which isn’t about tariffs but about excusing corporations from local, state, and even national regulations by making those regulations concerns of the diplomats where nothing happens because diplomats aren’t election pressure
      -deregulation in general
      -the drug war which creates of the American people for not buying consumer goods
      -allowing for-profit monopolies on healthcare to exists
      -subsidies and tax cuts to profitable companies.
      -lavish devotion to the MIC
      -the Patriot Act
      -a lack of corporate accountability
      -immunity for war criminals
      -rampant aggression around the globe to control supplies and prevent competitors
      -an aggressive and massive spying bureaucracy which much like the Gestapo and KGB has a track record of nabbing the innocent and missing bad guys while spending resources on chasing shadows.

      They are truly anti-fascists who have stood up to the all powerful Teabaggers!

  11. Pokey

    “the Grand Betrayal is so available and so obviously in the political interests of the GOP and the Tea Party…”

    Not really. There is the short term benefit of demonstrating the ineptitude of democrats generally and that colored man in the White House. That would work for at least one electoral cycle, and it was the motivating factor for some orchestrating the debacle we just witnessed. Ted Cruz might have even achieved his obsession, becoming the GOP nominee im 2016. We might have to annex Canada, but that’s OK, its mostly white.

    Rank and file teabaggers are old, white people who would close the door of opportunity to their grandchildren to keep government hands off their Medicare and Social Security. Their leaders care about only one thing: power, so that they can line their pockets and those of their supporters, if only for a while. The Grand Betrayal does not work nearly so well to achieve that end as would showing what a cowardly, compromising nincompoop leads the opposition. Maybe Oblabla has learned that one cannot negotiate with terrorists.

  12. Banger

    This certainly was a head-scratcher. While the Tea Party movement had rocket fuel injected into it by deeply ideological and fundamentally malevolent billionaires the movement is deeply rooted in the perennial culture of the American right. At its heart it is and always has been, above all other things, anti-modernist and anti-intellectual, racist and anti-Christian if we define Christianity by the core teachings of the Gospels.

    Because the right-wingers cannot deal with dialogue because they don’t believe in it since they know the truth and so it’s pointless to either query nature or other people, they only are comfortable in a them vs. us situation. Obviously these guys just hung out together and started imagining stuff and probably “prayed” on it and got themselves into the classic groupthink situation.

    I suspect people like Cruz, who is alleged to be intelligent, are motivated by their exclusive connection to God and therefore subordinate their intellectual abilities to “serve” that voice inside. I happen to believe that there is a “God-voice” inside all of us but how do we discern what that voice is trying to tell us? There are perennial practices in all our mystical traditions to help us navigate in that direction but much of our American-style mysticism is rife with extreme short-cuts and the American evangelicals tend to take them because of their belief in sudden illumination that is usually, IMHO, something called “inflation” in Jungian parlance.

    These TP members are deeply deluded and deeply committed to their doctrines. Who knows what strange course they will take next. But the only thing they are capable of is destruction–that is why I do not fear Fascism or authoritarianism coming from the extreme right–they are too stupid for that–but, if properly motivated, they can be very destructive and as such be useful tools to unleash now and then by that portion of the oligarchy that wants to destroy the central government and move towards a fully neo-feudalist society.

    I think this situation has to wake up the main parts of the oligarchy to at least decide what they want. I believe this situation was allowed to get this far because these factions are fighting among each other and really have no “vision” of what to do. Do they want to destroy the country? Do they want to invest in the country? Or just stumble along as we are?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Elections still matter, and politicians are political animals. More than money, running and being an ugly celebrity matter to them.

      The oligarchs want to cut Social Security and public education because those are two revenue streams left to steal, but the politicians don’t want to do this because it will destroy them politically.

      The only way to get them and to get the politicians to go along is a grand bargain where they won’t have to take responsibility, but I think the long term effects of Gingrinch’s candidate recruitment drive have created this element in the GOP which is so anti-Team Blue they can’t go along with their own issues in any kind of grand bargain.

      Mark Warner is hideously wealthy, but every few months his press team puts out little stories about how sad he is in Washington because no one listens to him as he advocates for bipartisanship and gettin’ along and misses when he was a really popular governor in his last year. Warner had to be begged by the powers in the Democratic Party to not run for Governor this year where he wouldn’t ignored as a DLC backbencher.

      Tax cuts for the wealthy have to come up with checks to everyone else to buy them off, or the voters might hold these people accountable. In wave years, most of the former politicians find they don’t have jobs waiting for them because they have no leverage. Their friends are out of office too, and they aren’t popular.

      I think this is what is driving the non-Tea Party end of the spectrum, and the Tea Partiers are going to oppose anything they think the Democrats will do regardless of the wishes of their GOP masters because the Tea Partiers represent the old Dixiecrats and nativists who give the GOP their electoral power. They aren’t beholden to Boehner the way Democrats love Bill Clinton while whining about free trade and deregulation.

    2. mundanomaniac

      today it appears to me, the meme, we are witnessing on the DC-Stage is that bad-party-good-party thing. And what you descibe, referring to the factions of the predatory bourgeoisie, seems to me the conceled strife off-stage behind the curtains.

  13. Ron

    The Tea Party reflects the political interest of a solid block of American’s that want little or nothing to do with modern government via the polls 25%, a pretty big number. The issue could be SS or Women Right to Vote, pick any modern day government program and the Tea Party will probably be against it. Most likely this movement will split off from the Republican Party attacking the GOP in its base of the South and border states.

  14. Dikaios Logos

    Yves wrote: “Michael Lind provided the best single analysis I’ve seen so far in a piece that describes it as the “newest right” which promotes the interests of “local notables” who are wealthy leaders in their communities but second-tier nationally.”

    Maybe it was unintentional, but the use of “promotes the interests of” is important. Lind’s piece seems to make the mistake that Tea Partiers ARE exclusively “local notables”. Frankly, there aren’t that enough car dealers, CofC members, small town doctors, etc. to create their own political movement. You NEED a larger number of eunuchs/serfs from those regions who blindly serve notables’ interests (or imagine themselves to be notables) and Lind does not understand that that fact IS consistent with “abstract ideological extremism, working-class populism or ignorance and stupidity.”

    1. Banger

      Indeed you are right. TP ideas are popular among the several levels of serfs becaus the modern world in inexplicable to them and they hanker for a new sort of feudalism where they can directly petition the notables to intercede on their behlalf. Some variant of feudalism is the most “natural” way to conducte politics. Local notables, in many areas of the country, would be more responsive to individual intersts than large bureaucracies. As people lose faith in the system they will look for other ways to deal with issues. If, for example, you are convinced the poitce and the courts are corrupt, why seek justice there? You’d find a capo, as in the Godfather stories to handle your issue and, in exchange you return the favor when required. In my view the current radical right is moving us in that direction and it may have benefits for us in the long run. At any rate we’re moving in that direction unless the vast majority of Americans take a greater interest in politics.

      1. thisson

        Where on earth do you get these ideas? The tea party’s core concept (“taxed enough already”) resonates with working people who think they are overtaxed so politicians can spend money buying votes. It has nothing to do with religion. I’ll grant you that the republican party coopted the concept, but the anti-tax idea stands on its own.

        1. Banger

          Where do I get this? A lifetime of observation and study of these movements. Why don’t they want to pay taxes? Because they believe society has run amok and destroyed their culture of white privilege and for a host of other complex reasons. Taxes are just a rallying cry. Most of these people (and I know these people from face to face contact) are happy to pay for police, prisons and the military.

          1. Thisson

            No, no no. You ask: “Why don’t they want to pay taxes” and state that the answer is “Because they believe society has run amok and destroyed their culture of white privilege.” That’s the wrong answer. The answer is because we don’t perceive we are getting reasonable value for our “contributions.”

        2. craazyboy

          But you gotta admit it is funny to see working class people pick up the cry for Steve Forbes flat tax instead of more progressive taxes as a solution to our large deficit.

          And their SS withholding is just some sort of accounting gimmick, but accounting is very important when applied to accounts receivable and private portfolios.

          And the SS Trust Fund represents money that has already been looted and wasted, but the rest of federal spending on, say, defense, intelligence, outrageous priced healthcare and pharma, and anything else that requires lobbyists and campaign contributions is frugally well spent and/or invested in the country’s future.

          ‘scuse me while I chuckle a bit.
          hehe haha.

      2. Massinissa

        Banger, im beginning to wonder if youre beginning to fall in love with your overly complicated ideas at this stage. Be careful of that.

        1. Banger

          Certainly that is a hazard. But I don’t think they are complicated. My fundamental ideas are actually fairly simple it is the situations find our selves in that are increasingly complicated and bordering on chaos due to a lack of common purpose and values across demographic groups and social classes.

          Here is my set of ideas in a nutshell. We are moving towards neo-feudalism because we have lost faith in the viability of a central government and even of rule of law since these things appear to be breaking down. Feudal arrangements are the easiest and most natural to live with. Only a re-assertion of Western values by the left (basically people who believe in compassionate and reasonable solutions to common problems) could reverse this trend–but there is no indication of that going on a national level. The alternative to the normal political channels is a turn inward into mysticism and spiritual development that would deconstruct the radical selfish/narcissistic self-concept that society has bred into us through consumer culture and the content of mass entertainment. Then we would be able to begin to form new communities understanding the scientific fact that we are deeply social beings and prosper when we are part of a collective rather than independent agents all competing against other entities (the essence of capitalism). As good ole Ross Perot used to say, “it’s that simple.” Or, to quote John Lydon “I could be right and I could be wrong.”

          1. Jerome Armstrong

            I think you’re right on with that description. I’m reminded of Chris Hedges ‘death of the liberal class’ as far as the first turn goes; or the conflict on the left that Rorty describes in ‘achieving our country’– there’s just no energy there anymore. The last gasp was the partisan attempt of getting the Democrats to beat Republicans at their own tactics, which worked great, but it was naive, looking back, to believe that there was a common ‘progressive’ agenda that benefited the people, which Democrats would enact upon gaining the majority.

            The turn among the cultural left (which is just as big as the populist right) is to the practice of raising the spirit, and just turn away from the political situation. Meanwhile, the populist right are so scared and desperate at what they have lost that they turn to a political takeover as their last gasp alternative to dying. I don’t think it’s a given either that they don’t win. So we have a situation where a quarter of the population turning away from politics, raising their spirt in their communities, and a quarter of the population is raising hell in the GOP primary. It’s a odd situation, which might end with me just getting the hell out of here and onto NZ island.

            1. Thisson

              Paraphrasing, you’re arguing that only the left can save society. What hogwash! Both the left and the right are increasing spending at an exponential rate that outpaces the rate of income. That alone is the cause of almost all of our economic woes.

      3. jonboinAR

        I think the fact that the Left openly and heartily despises white working-class culture and all of its values, it has since the civil-rights movement, at least, I think, has a little to do with why the white working class tend to identify with their white, supposed masters more than they do with the Left. At least they aren’t openly scape-goated in the Republican Party. You yourself wax on a little about how stupid, willfully ignorant and craven they (lower-class whites) are.

    2. jonboinAR

      One thing those local, notable, tea-party putative leaders make sure not to do is openly refer to their working-class base, even if they really intend to make them cannon fodder, as ignorant, racist, in-bred, sub-human scum. The Left could learn a lesson.

  15. Dino Reno

    I live in a Congressional district with one of the highest rates of unemployment and food stamp use in the country whose duly elected representative voted for default. Said representative was previously a lobbyist for local big business before being elected in a landslide victory on the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. He is no doubt counting the days when he can jump to K Street to further his career at a more lucrative pay grade. He hates the government so much because he can’t seem to get out from under it…teat sucking et al. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. Damn that Big Gov’ment!

    1. rps

      The Welfare Queens lifers on the taxpayer teat are the public-elected ‘servants’ -that’s a quaint term. Today, they call themselves ‘officials.’ Thereby, negating their responsibilties to their bosses -the citizens who pay for their livelihood. And then there’s the other teat-suckers; the corporations who live off of government taxpayer funded contracts. They’re handed tax avoidance by the officials on a platinum platter along with negation of social responsibilities to the commonwealth.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    Glad to see, “Grand Betrayal”, as an alternative to, “Great Betrayal” coming from the source. Personally, I think it works better in constructs such as, Grand Bargain Betrayal, but regardless, at least this indicates it is a reasonable alternative.

    Someone might want to mention this to Joe Firestone so he knows it’s OK to go easy on folks,

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/joe-firestone-stop-the-great-betrayal-kabuki-update.html#comment-1467391

    [...]Also, the term is “the Great betrayal.” It is a meme coined by Bill Black, already in use in opposition to “the Grand Bargain.” Having a third meme [Grand Betrayal], seems a bit redundant. -Joe Firestone in response to Gerard Pierce using, “Grand Betrayal” in comments.

    Or a little further down,
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/joe-firestone-stop-the-great-betrayal-kabuki-update.html#dFechYyAzMT5JTKG.99

    Btw, I noticed this morning that Social Security Works (SSW) also is referring to the Grand Betrayal in its e-mail solicitations. So, you’re not alone in destroying the better meme. -Joe Firestone

  17. Jim

    Banger says”

    “I suspect people like Cruz who is alleged to be intelligent and motivated by their exclusive connection to God and therefore subordinate their intellectual abilities to “serve” that voice inside. I happen to believe that there is a “God-voice” inside all of us but how do we discern what that voice is trying to tell us.?”

    I think you have raised an issue which could challenge the evangelical right and perhaps eventually win over a portion to a new politics.

    Such a politics would have to do with a type of truth-telling about self.

    It may be the case that a deep self-analysis (through, for example, various forms of psychoanalysis, mystical/spiritual practices or simply introspection techniques as a consequence of various sports training regimes) eventually culminates in the creation of a type mental space within each individual engaged in such practices.

    This mental space becomes an area for the possible observing of the self/ego more critically—via a type of internal witness consciousness which creates a distance from the self.

    Where a portion of the evangelical right may go off it wheels and into fanaticism is possibly in their uncritical reflection on “the voice inside” as definitely that of some divine other which is speaking through or to them–rather than simply an out of control ego– that could be more critically observed from a distance with the right set of mental practices.

    Perhaps Christianity is particularly prone to such fanaticism because it does not make it clear to its denominations that continued practice is necessary in order to avoid the likelihood of such pathological/fanatical outcomes.

  18. Glen

    It’s amazing how effective the TP has been at reshaping the Republican party, and despite the current churn within the Republican party, I suspect the TP will remain a force within the party.

    The only similar “movement” I can find was maybe the Blue Dogs within the Democratic party although this faction was to a large degree created and controlled by the Democratic DC leadership.

    It’s interesting that there seems to be no well organized and funded “wing” of either party which is pulling to the left. There is the Progressive caucus within the Democratic party but it political power is weak, and it’s support is mostly from the grass roots.

    The other recent mass movement was OWS which viewed both political parties as separate factions of the same political spectrum (correct me if I have this wrong). Their re-framing of the debate to the 99% and the 1% was extremely dangerous to both political parties and the PTB. This was why it had to be crushed by a coordinated police state action.

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      Don’t we have to go back to the turn of the last century to find a populist movement that took over a major party so quickly? The Democrats went from two separate terms of Grover Cleveland, to his bolting upon WBJ emerging as the ’96 nominee.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Tea Party brand is a recent event, but the Tea Party element represents the Dixiecrats and nativists Nixon recruited as Catholics and African-Americans swung wholeheartedly to the Democrats in 1960.

        This has been a long process. Reagan’s campaign was heavily supported by people we would call Teabaggers. They flirted with Perot. They voted for Huckleberry and McCain before they voted for a GOP elite insider in Mittens.

        Many of these “Teabagger” Congressman were recruited by Newt and his cronies including the current Speaker since 1982. After a time, they moved from the state legislature to Congress.

        I know the 90′s are forgotten because they hurt the myth of the reasonable Republicans that Democrats love so much, but those Republican Congresses were pretty deranged. Then of course lets not forget, the War on Terror and the resulting insanity.

        The whole concept of the Tea Party was an attempt to control these people by the GOP elite who were worried about the public adoration of Sarah Palin who was a GOP outsider which is how she became Governor because she was pretty the only non-scandal plagued Republican in Alaska. By a relative measure, she was squeaky clean.

        W.’s personal charisma and status as both a GOP insider and outsider* united the old Bob Taft elite and GOP voters, but the Teabag element killed the Harriet Miers nomination, not the Democrats.

        Occasionally, they have been bought off with things like the Office of Faith Based Initiatives (another Conservative cause Obama has championed), but the general economic decline and a out of touch discussion in Washington led the Tea Party element to just exert their power. The Teabaggers lined up for the Amash Amendment and against another Democratic “smart war,” but I wouldn’t say its a takeover as much as recognition of where the power rests in the GOP.

        As for the importance of money in campaigns, there comes a point where commercials only produce diminishing returns.

        *W. and Rove represent a rebellion in the Texas GOP.

  19. Jerome Armstrong

    For the most part, I agree with Lind, but disagree with him taking out the notion that this is “populist” and ignoring the growth of the government state and it’s role with this movement. This part:

    “The second misconception is that the Newest Right or Tea Party Right is populist. The data, however, show that Tea Party activists and leaders on average are more affluent than the average American. The white working class often votes for the Newest Right, but then the white working class has voted for Republicans ever since Nixon.”

    Well, if one is allowed to subtract out a large subset of the movement, then you can hardly be left with something to rely on for nomenclature, theoretically speaking.

    Yea, a large part of this is due to the threat these traditionalists are feeling, and a lot of that context is demographic, but the context also includes massive growth of government regulatory bodies (federal and state) and government security presence. And that last part has huge libertarian appeal to those under 50. Take a look at Reason’s community to see where this happens, for example. And that in large part is why you don’t see a conservative social facet to this movement– they don’t give a shit about gay marriage.

    So yea, Lind is right, as far as he goes. But he’s mistaken in trying to jam this into a Texan southern model of making sense of it all. It probably has just as much to do with the 35 year-old libertarian computer specialist living in New Hampshire, or the small family of four home business in Minnesota, as it does with the 65 year-old car dealer in Texas. In this day and age of the internet, it’s not localized in the south. And it’s probably not just a coincidence of timing that it’s emerged as the last laggards have gotten onto the internet either.

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      Just to augment the notion of this being a populist movement, I want to go back to the emergence of the Tea Party movement, as found on this pdf:
      http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/drbob/Comment%20on%20the%20Tea%20Party.pdf
      Specifically, “A Rasmussen Poll a few days later reported that most of its sample viewed the Tea Party movement favorably. The protestors seemed to be ordinary people who had simply “had it” with Washington. ”

      The general “anti-DC” atmosphere is huge in this country at this moment. It very much cuts against both parties; it is for a large swath of reasons, many which are not simpatico, and defies modern comparison. Like I said previously,

      I think you have to go back to WJB, and that turn of the century populist movement, to find a precedent for such a massive uprising. If you’ve looked at the 1890′s election swings between the parties, you can see how crazy it would be to predict how it plays out.

      1. Lambert Strether

        ” the 35 year-old libertarian computer specialist living in New Hampshire.”

        But isn’t it fair to say that, as far as capturing institutions, the “local notables” of the TP are primarily in the South (and possibly Kochistan in the midwest)?

        1. Jerome Armstrong

          Yes, as far as that sort of institution goes in describing a part of the movement. In that crowd you have a lot of people that max out, but it’s actually a lot bigger players (financially) than the term ‘local notables’ implies. There’s about 500 billionaires in the US, many thousands of 100 millionaires, and though they are notable, local, they are also very rich enough to counter the weight of the financial sector. Politics is still small to influence. Throw 1M at a CD primary (attacking the incumbent) and it’s enough to equalize the contest.

  20. Jerome Armstrong

    We don’t know yet if this Grand Bargain, will be how it plays out, but I certainly have seen enough of Obama to believe it could be the case Bill. I came to the baseball analogy of seeing Obama’s presidency a while back. Obama, following after the ground-laying work done by Bush, the starting pitcher, as the reliever brought in for the 7th inning to gun down the lefties.

  21. TC

    Tea Party posturing against the Affordable Care Act only solidified their base. No immediate harm in that (but sometime down the road is a different story altogether). Immediate harm was done by Senate Dems who didn’t use this shutdown as a way to cut off Obama at the knees, and at the same time smash the Republican party. The Grand Betrayal is the child of the sequester, which austerity measure was Obama’s sellout of his base whose devastating effect is no different than what the Grand Betrayal portends. Senate Dems should have forced the president to invoke the 14th amendment and moved to junk the debt ceiling albatross altogether. Senate Dems could have furthered the Republican party’s smashing eroding the foundation of their drive to gut the social safety net by moving to impose a 1% Wall Street sales tax and in so doing undermine any need for a Grand Betrayal, while setting up for a Democratic Party clean sweep of the House and Senate in 2014, as well as the White House in 2016. Tying this agenda to an initiative to improve the Affordable Care Act by making it a Medicare for all program heavily subsidized through revenues attained via the Wall Street sales tax, the good business sense of such an initiative would have undermined the Tea Party completely and sent these fascist subversives to the dustbin of history.

    But no, all we get is feckless hacks incapable of leadership. It would not have mattered whether the policy prescriptions I just indicated had a snowballs chance in hell of being passed. Yet did repeal of Obamacare? How about its 1 year delay? The Democratic party is pathetic. They couldn’t even solidify their base, whereas the Tea Party has. That’s a bad sign for the future of this country.

  22. Brooklin Bridge

    [...] Fourth, the Tea Party remembered the Fox network but forgot the existence of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report. Every time Fox tried to claim that the Tea Party was not responsible for its actions the denial created an opening for Stewart and Colbert to roll the tape on what the Tea Party caucus members had actually said, including classics such as Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s admission: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

    True, Democrats, particularly Vichy Democrats, have a lot more pull in the MSM than they let on. I would love to hear either of them, Stewart or Colbert, speak about the Grand Bargain Betrayal as much as or with half the insight or a quarter of the biting satire they meet out to Republican coo-coo clocks. Ain’t gonna happen.

  23. ian

    One recurring thought that I have had is that the perception of the Tea Party tactics during the shutdown, in particular those of Ted Cruz, will ultimately depend on how ObamaCare turns out. I have wondered if Cruz was just betting on a debacle and laying down a big fat ‘I told you so’ for later.
    If it really turns out badly, a lot of folks might look back on him as having taken a desperate ‘alamo-like’ last stand against it.
    It sure seems like it was a dumb thing to do right now, but tactically, it may prove to have not been quite so dumb.

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