Monday, September 14, 2009


I don't agree with Glenn Greenwald, who thinks the Beck/tea party/9-12 crowd has one category of enemy, and it's the wrong category:

...the right-wing fury over health care reform is motivated by the fear that middle-class Americans will have their money taken away by Obama while -- all together now, euphemistically -- "having someone else benefit." And this "someone else" are, as always, the poor minorities and other undeserving deadbeats who, in right-wing lore, somehow (despite their sorry state) exert immensely powerful influence over the U.S. Government and are thus the beneficiaries of endless, undeserved largesse: people too lazy to work, illegal immigrants, those living below the poverty line.

...genuine anger (over the core corruption of Washington and the eroding economic security for virtually everyone other than a tiny minority) is being bizarrely directed at those who never benefit (the poorest and most downtrodden), while those who are most responsible (the wealthiest and largest corporations) are depicted as the victims who need defending (they want to seize Wall St. bonuses and soak the rich!!).

Here's the thing: the teabagger types despise the Federal Reserve and want to see it audited. They despise the bailouts. In other words, they have some anger at some people who deal in big money and wear really expensive suits.

It's true that, in general, they seem to think capitalists are basically people just like themselves and their neighbors, only more successful ... but they also seem to think capitalists who've dealt with the government in ways the teabaggers have recently become aware of, don't understand, and don't like, are bloodsuckers. (Big business consorts with the government all the time, of course, but the 9-12 crowd either doesn't notice most of that interaction or doesn't care.)

How does Glenn Beck put it? A few months ago he compared the bailouts to ACORN:

Don't try to figure it out. Just let it wash over you. (You can take a shower later.)

I say this all the time, but to me this harks back to the classic racist/conspiratorial notion of Jews who are ubercapitalist "international bankers," socialists, and mad social scientists attempting to mongrelize the white race by siccing nonwhites on pure, chaste Caucasians. In the modern version, the heroic capitalists of Reaganite legend aren't "international bankers," but when GM gets a bailout, or the Fed intervenes to prevent the global financial system from collapsing, "international bankers" are most definitely involved, and the world looks (to the Beck crowd) like a racist or anti-Semitic propaganda cartoon.

And, of course, Obama is both the slick financial conspirator and the savage dark-skinned guy who wants to destroy the Beck crowd's simple way of life.

Greenwald post is in response to a New York Timescolumn by Ross Douthat -- who says (citing GOP pollster Frank Luntz) that Democrats got dinged at the polls in 1994 not just because of the failure of Clinton's health care plan, but because Clinton supported a crime bill that included such items as money for "midnight basketball," and says Obama is in trouble not just because of health care but because of (implicitly) similar giveaways ... to rich people:

This August's town-hall fury wasn't just about the details of health care. Neither were the anti-Obama protests that crowded Washington over the weekend. They were about the Wall Street bailout, the G.M. takeover, the A.I.G. bonuses, and countless smaller examples of middle-income Americans' "playing by the rules," as Luntz puts it, "and having someone else benefit."

There it is: GM bailouts = midnight basketball. Somehow the bailouts don't get anyone in the teabag crowd angry at greedy and/or incompetent capitalists per se -- the teabaggers get angry at the government guys in suits who give the business guys in suits money. The government guys in suits are the international bankers. And the evil Satanic nature of ACORN fits right in because enabling them is just one of the other things international bankers do.


UPDATE, TUESDAY: Mark Williams, the smirking teabagger who appeared on Anderson Cooper's show last night to defend the movement, summed up the apparently incoherent mindset perfectly:

... this is nothing at all to do with health care, other than health care has become the metaphor for all the different socialist policies that are being rammed down our throats by this president, or that he's trying to ram down our throats.

It's about TARP. It's about taking money from the working stiffs and giving it to the big corporations. It's about the corporate takeover of Washington, D.C.

Right -- it's about "socialist policies" and "the corporate takeover of Washington, D.C." Got it.

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