INSANE, APOCALYPTIC RAGE IS SO 2010 -- OR IS IT?
Charles Blow of The New York Times thinks tea party anger may have run its course:
... A poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center found that anger at the government among Tea Party supporters fell by 40 percent from September 2010 to this month. Furthermore, anger among Republicans fell by more than half, and anger among whites, the elderly and independents fell by 40 percent or more.
On the other hand, the percentage of Tea Party supporters who said that they trusted the government always or most of the time doubled from last March to this March, and the percentage of Republicans saying so nearly doubled.
... What happened? The midterms happened, that's what.
Elections have a way of cooling passions, especially when voters get what they want. (Remember how lethargic many Democrats became after November 2008?) ...
During the right's season of anger, passion and convictions galvanized Tea Party supporters into an army of activism. But the vehicle is outliving its fuel....
Adam Serwer thinks the trends identified by the Pew poll explain Glenn Beck's ratings decline:
The whole Republican narrative is based on the idea that conservatives are the "real Americans" and that liberals and Democrats are illegitimate democratic actors who only gain power through illicit means. Beck and his chalkboard met the need conservatives had to persuade themselves of this in the aftermath of political losses in 2006 and particularly 2008. Republicans, having regained control of the House and excised the existential crisis caused by losing the presidential election, feel like things are "getting back to normal." So they simply don't have the same appetite for the kind of cathartic insanity Beck provides. It's not really that Beck has really changed; it's that Republicans don't really need him anymore.
As The New Republic's James Downie points out, Beck's ratings peaked in early 2010 at close to 2.9 million viewers a day; by January of this year, he was down to fifth place among cable news shows overall, and down to 1.8 million viewers.
But, um, he came back in February -- not all the way back, but back from his lows. According to TV Newser, he was back up to fourth place in February, and over 2 million viewers a day again. (At the link, the total viewership is the "P2+" number.) And he sure didn't do this by mellowing out. (February was the month of the grand Piven/Alinsky conspiracy to spread unrest through the Muslim world.)
Yes, it's likely that wingnuts stopped feeling quite so hostile toward the government after they took over more of it. But wingnuts have a really hard time settling for less than 100% of what they want. There are always new demons, new Antichrists; someone is always trying to take something from them that they think is rightfully theirs.
If Scott Walker doesn't get everything he's demanding, if the teabaggers' federal budget-cutting goals are only partially met, if anything whatsoever happens in the Muslim world (wingnuts have had a really hard time deciding whether they're personally threatened more by the status quo or by those challenging it), the right is going to get less mellow. Anger at government will rise again. Beck's ratings will continue their comeback.
The Category 5 storm of crazy is down to a Category 1 -- temporarily, I think. I suspect the winds are going to pick up soon.