Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Parties, Michele Bachman and TARP

Regular readers of the blog know that I have not fully embraced the Tea Party movement, and people who know me well might rightly conclude that I will never feel totally comfortable with the zeitgeist the movement now rides. But I think as a sentient being and a conservative Republican, I have been derelict in my duties in not paying closer attention to the movement.

So over the past few days, I've tried to turn the corner on that a bit. No, I did not attend a Tea Party rally, but I should have. I watched plenty of video, listened to lots of podcasts, and read a ton of interviews, polls and blogposts.

I see amazing positive energy, I see genuine love of country, and I see a mixed bag of free thinkers and those who seem to ape whatever it is they last heard on the radio or saw on their favorite conservative TV program. I am struck by some of the contradictions I hear. I simply LOVE listening to Seniors complain about socialist takeovers of the healthcare system, and in the next breath decry cutting medicare to pay for it.

What I like least of all though about the Tea Party movement is some of the speakers who whip Tea Partiers into collective frenzies, speakers who appeal to the lowest common denominator and who use simplistic and over the top rhetoric to drive home often very important points. For instance--Saxby Chambliss addressed a crowd yesterday and was presumably talking about tax code simplification--a worthy, important subject. How did it get packaged? A discussion of how he's working to get rid of the IRS, how he was working for a time in which "we" determined how much tax we paid rather than the government" (presumably a reference to a tax system geared to consumption rather than work/saving). Again--good topics to take on, but rhetoric so base and simplistic as to detract from the important policy questions.

I know, I know--some of you will think "but CW, you're an egghead policy wonk Bill Kristol Republican--Chambliss isn't talking to you". And you'll be right. But then you will have answered the unasked (thus far) question--"why isn't the CW more taken with the Tea Party movement". They simply aren't talking to the likes of me.

Another example of "they're not talking to me" was a clip I heard of Minnesota Republican Michele Bachman from one of the Tea Parties yesterday. Representative Bachman is a darling of the Tea Party movement, and has never met a camera/microphone she didn't like (me either). That said, when talking about (again) a very important topic--and that is, increased government intrusion into the marketplace--she cited the fact that this latest round began under a Republican President--when the Congress passed the $700B "bailout of the big banks--a bill that I did not vote for". Said with great pride.

So here we have a "spokesperson" for this movement proudly crowing about having rendered what I consider to be one of the most scurrilous votes Republicans made during the contagion that was the credit market melt-down. Now that the credit markets are ungummed, now that the Dow is up 70%, now that the economy is clearly recovering from the recession and now that it is increasingly indisputable that the $700B TARP bill saved our entire economic system--Representative Bachman excites a crowd by saying she did not support the only thing government has done in the past two years to actually MAKE THINGS BETTER. And the crowd loved it.

I can understand the revulsion that bailing out Wall Street causes in people. I can understand the disdain people have for the folks on Wall Street--aided and abetted by Congress and the Presidency (both parties)--who recklessly hazarded our Republic's financial health--but I cannot support ridiculous, demagogic rhetoric detached from economic and policy reality and promoting a vote which had it prevailed--would have sent this economy into depression.

There are tough problems out there friends, and the solutions will not be easy. I have a tough time thinking I will find them at a Tea Party.


Ghost of Halloween Past said...

In a way, I'm with you, my friend -- I'm watching a steady trickle of the lunatic fringe left (think those who believe Mossad runs the USAF & The New World Order runs everything else) join ignorant FoxNews wingnuts who've taken the TeaParty from the Ron Paul folks, and I see insanity + fear + a lot of ammunition coming together = bad outcome.

The speeches and commentary coming from the leaders and public faces of the Tea Party movement play around liberty and rights, and they seem to classify infringements on their rights as denials of liberty while infringements on the rights of people who don’t look/believe much like them are simply special interests or institutionalized whining or unfounded entitlement.

Based on the conflicting statements and positions, I can figure out what Tea Partiers are, besides being angry. Are Tea Partiers some new/old form of libertarians? Which kind, right- or left-oriented? Are they anti-state anarchists? Or anti-state socialists? Do they want maximum equal liberty with self-ownership and non-interference or do they want inviolable centrally enforced/protected property rights without regard to the pattern of distribution of those rights?

Is it freedom they want? Or power? Or are those just the same thing?

Anonymous said...

You're right, you should have attendend a rally. The one here in Norfolk had some good speakers. Two of note: The only speaker whose name I remember, Bishop Jackson, is a black man who received a standing ovation. He gave a well thought out and excellently delivered rousing speech. It wasn't Krauthammer-esque in its depth, but it was no talking-point-only shallow rant. Maybe not talking to 'you'?
The last speaker before we left, however, gave a speech referencing current tax code minutae (sp?), American and French history, economic theory, and political theory. IMHO it was well delivered, obviously researched, and intelligently argued. She may have even been talking to 'you.'

...and there were old ladies there with bible verses being thrown as daggers.

"The Hammer" said...

I guess you're just too damned high on the brain-pan totem pole to ascribe to such bourgeois notions. Listen up sport, these are political rallies not university seminars (not that they're any smarter).

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Yes Hammer, they are political rallies. Which is why I don't go to them. Which is why they don't appeal to me.

However, this blog is NOT a political rally-something you have yet to realize.

"The Hammer" said...

You don't like being talked down to, do you CW?
Sorry, I'll try and show a bit more respect. If for no other reason than you were once an officer is the most nattily dressed NAVY in the world.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

That's correct Hammer--I do not. I don not know who does.

But it is no excuse for having done so to you, and for that, I am sorry.

"The Hammer" said...

That's very kind of you. Let me buy you a cigar. How 'bout an Ashton Cabinet #7. I'll get that right out.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Damn regular of you, Hammer. Damn regular. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Love fest over?

"The Hammer" said...

Well I'd rather be regular than irregular.

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