Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The best coverage I've encountered of the fringe thinking at the Nashville tea party confab is this Newsweek Web-only piece by Jonathan Kay, who happens to be a right-wing Canadian:

...After I spent the weekend at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., it has become clear to me that the movement is dominated by people whose vision of the government is conspiratorial and dangerously detached from reality. It's more John Birch than John Adams.

... in Nashville, Judge Roy Moore warned, among other things, of "a U.N. guard stationed in every house." On the conference floor, it was taken for granted that Obama was seeking to destroy America's place in the world and sell Israel out to the Arabs for some undefined nefarious purpose. The names Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers popped up all the time, the idea being that they were the real brains behind this presidency, and Obama himself was simply some sort of manchurian candidate.

A software engineer from Clearwater, Fla., told me that Washington, D.C., liberals had engineered the financial crash so they could destroy the value of the U.S. dollar, pay off America's debts with worthless paper, and then create a new currency called the Amero that would be used in a newly created "North American Currency Union" with Canada and Mexico. I rolled my eyes at this one-off kook. But then, hours later, the conference organizers showed a movie to the meeting hall,
Generation Zero, whose thesis was only slightly less bizarre: that the financial meltdown was the handiwork of superannuated flower children seeking to destroy capitalism....

And this is before Kay even gets to the birtherism.

But Kay is wrong about this:

Perhaps the most distressing part of all is that few media observers bothered to catalog these bizarre, conspiracist outbursts, and instead fixated on Sarah Palin's Saturday night keynote address. It is as if, in the current overheated political atmosphere, we all simply have come to expect that radicalized conservatives will behave like unhinged paranoiacs when they collect in the same room.

No, Jonathan, it isn't that. The reason is that the so-called liberal media is so over its flirtation with the idea that Democrats might conceivably be good for America, or at least that Barack Obama might; "liberal" journalists are now back to accepting the American right's assessment of itself and of liberals and Democrats. Heartland anger at George W. Bush, the onetime pinup boy of "the real America," followed by the electoral success of Obama, lulled some of these journalists into suspending their self-hate as members of the urbane cultural elite -- but now the success of the tea party movement, and of truck-drivin' Scott Brown, has made them revert to their old "We should know more about NASCAR and so should the effete Democrats!" mode of thinking.

Which means they wouldn't dare write about bad things at the tea party convention -- that would be effete latte-fueled heartland-bashing. Reporting on that crazy talk would conflict with the current narrative, so far better not to hear the talk at all.

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