Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trying to understand the Tea Party movement

Here are a couple of pieces of actual journalism on the Republican Party and the far right: Michael Tomasky, Something New on the Mall New York Review of Books 09/24/09 (10/22/09 issue); David Weigel, Fear of Fascism, ‘Gay Agenda’ Dominates Conservative Kickoff for Midterm Elections Washington Independent 09/28/09. Bot illustrate why its hardly meaningful to talk about a moderate wing or even faction in today's Republican Party.

Tomasky's piece talks about the conservative movement in the context of its interacting components, showing how their network has worked together in opposition to Obama and the Democrats this year. He describes three major components: groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks that tap into a "bottomless amount of corporate money"; the various outlets of rightwing media like FOX News and hate radio; and, Republican elected officials to publicly associate themselves with manifestations of conservative activism like the Tea Party movement and "whose votes in support of the movement's positions can be absolutely relied upon".


Tomasky's piece focuses on the organizational structure, whose three components could be more briefly described as: wingnut welfare groups; the Republicans' Mighty Wurlitzer messaging network; and, Republican officeholders. He doesn't go much into how the multiple dysfunctions of the Establishment press facilitate the work of the Republicans and their Tea Party allies. And he doesn't really look at the demographic or psychological factors involved, though he does briefly hem and haw over what role white racism plays in the movement. (Speaking of which, can't white liberal writers bring themselves to say "white racism" any more?)

Weigel's piece describes a recent "How to Take Back America" conference featuring hard right favorites like Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann and Jerry "the Christian General" Boykin. Attendees heard about the impending menace of Obama fascism, suppression of Christianity, the "gay agenda" and the North American Union.

Dave Neiwert on MSNBC addressed the specific question of how intense the anti-Obama activist movement has been compared to that against Bill Clinton during the first year of his Presidency: Dave on 'Countdown': Did Clinton have it worse than Obama? Crooks and Liars 09/29/09.

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