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Taming the Tea Parties

September 10, 2010
Paul Gottfried

GOP regulars and their movement conservative drones have been sending signals for some time now that they wish to have the Tea Party be nice. While David Frum and David Brooks have generally followed the Left in condemning these “extremists,” Bill Kristol, George Will, Jonah Goldberg, and Rich Lowry have taken a gentler approach to the problem. Goldberg praises Glenn Beck and those who attended his Washington rally for being inspirational by invoking Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Never mind, as Al Sharpton correctly noted, that King held social and economic views that were diametrically opposed to those of his effusive admirers Beck and Sarah Palin. For Goldberg and Geraldo Rivera on Fox, the reaching out at the rally to civil rights images was what counted.

Some of this conciliatory talk was followed in National Review by Rich Lowry on September 3, who seemed to be stroking the monster. Lowry characterizes the Tea Party insurgency in the GOP as a “bourgeois revolt.” For the most part its activists wish to go back to the pre-Obama American “dispensation.” They are seeking nothing more cataclysmic than getting the country “back to its typical level (of spending) in recent decades, roughly 20% of GDP.” These mostly good folks wish to return to the “constitutional limits that obtained during most of the country’s history,” and from which we strayed under the present Democratic administration.

All of this is rank nonsense. Federal power has been exploding for decades under Republican as well as Democratic administrations. And it is not at all clear that what George Washington or even Dwight Eisenhower understood as “constitutional limits” on federal power were the ones that still existed under George W. Bush. What Lowry and his crew really want is to neutralize the Tea Party. They wish to see it work for Republican elections and then behave in a “sober” fashion, by allowing the party regulars to take over once the GOP scores big in November. With some luck we may be able to return to that movement conservative-GOP highpoint in human history, the presidency of George W. Bush under the stewardship of Fox-contributor Karl Rove.

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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