Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare!

The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has written an exposé of the Tea-Baggers for the upcoming issue. The article is available now online. Taibbi spent a year attending meetings and rallies and interviewing Tea-Baggers, trying to take the pulse of the movement.

No surprise: the close-up view is not flattering (not that the long view threatened to enchant). The article is brilliant and very worth 20 minutes of your time. Here are some samples (chosen from four pages of zingers):
It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority...

As an example of the Tea-Bagger saga, Taibbi writes about the campaign and primary victory of Rand Paul. Talking of Paul's defection from his early Libertarian principles into the arms of the mainstream Republican power structure, a defection which alienated some of Paul's young adherents, Taibbi writes:
...it isn't young intellectuals... who will usher Paul into the U.S. Senate in the general election; it's those huge crowds of pissed-off old people who dig Sarah Palin and Fox News and call themselves Tea Partiers. And those people really don't pay attention to specifics too much. Like dogs, they listen to tone of voice and emotional attitude...

The Tea Party is many things at once, but one way or another, it almost always comes back to a campaign against that unsafe urban hellscape of godless liberalism we call our modern world. Paul's platform is ultimately about turning back the clock, returning America to the moment of her constitutional creation, when the federal bureaucracy was nonexistent and men were free to roam the Midwestern plains strip-mining coal and erecting office buildings without wheelchair access.
Talking about Rand Paul's foot-in-mouth assertion that restaurants should have the right to refuse to serve blacks:
It's no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what's real to them is the implication in your question that they're racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it's an outrage that binds them together.
Read the whole article here.

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Addendum:

It's energizing to finally read some intelligent push back to all this right wing lunacy. After the above piece I ran across another brutally frank piece by Steven Thrasher in The Village Voice. And judging by the comments, plenty of people are unhappy with it.

2 comments:

Jeffy said...

My hope is that the Tea Party is what finally causes enough trouble for the Republicans that they have to realign themselves with the sensible moderate bulk of the US population. They were taken over years ago by the religious conservatives, and those folks were generally not so wacky that they could not get elected. Now that the Tea Baggers are throwing a wrench into the Republican Party things may get so broken that the Republicans will have to fix it. Most of the Tea Baggers are so nuts that they can not get elected. The Tea Party is a great thing for the Democrats, and hopefully it will end up being a good thing for the Republicans too.

wunelle said...

I agree completely. Given how many American voters don't find resonance with the Democratic party, more and more their only choice is the lunatic fringe. I keep thinking that there must be a great opening for a charismatic, centrist conservative candidate, but there seems to be no news value in the quiet and sensible.

As ever, turning off the TV seems a great place to start.