Following up on the previous post, I'd like to add that I'm detecting a common thread among soft-on-teabaggery establishmentarians: while they fret about the 'baggers, they fret about their tactics only; they lament these tactics because they think the 'baggers are just what our politics needs, if only they could learn how to behave.
Ross Douthat, for instance, thinks the budget crisis was dangerous lunacy, but he still says this:
One of the themes running through my various government shutdown posts has been the importance of seeing the current wave of right-wing populism clearly and weighing its merits and demerits judiciously. That requires understanding the strategic thinking that led to the shutdown in the first place ... acknowledging the legitimate sense of political disappointment that underlies the right's inclination toward intransigence ... and most importantly, recognizing that relative to the G.O.P. establishment (such as it is), today’s right-wing populists often have better political instincts and better policy ideas.And then there's the Peggy Noonan column I quoted in my last post, in which Noonan pretends to read the thoughts of the late senator Robert Taft. Noonan tells us that she -- er, Taft -- thinks the teabaggers are just swell, if a bit rowdy and undisciplined:
The tea party ... seems to him to be "trying to stand for a free citizenry in the age of Lois Lerner. They're against this professional class in government that thinks we're a nation of donkeys pulling their wingèd chariot.But isn't the whole point of teabaggery, as Andrew Sullivan has been arguing, that it's a fundamentalist religion that accepts no compromise and tolerates no heretics? Sullivan quotes Rod Dreher, who may be an idiot much of the time, but is pretty close to the truth here:
"Their impatience with the status quo is right. Their sense of urgency is right. Their insight that the party in power has gone to the left of where America really is -- right on that, too."
But the tea party has a lot to learn, and quickly....
"The tea party should stop the insults -- 'RINO,' 'sellout,' 'surrender caucus.' It's undignified, and it's not worthy of a serious movement. When you claim to be the policy adults you also have to be the characterological adults. Resentment alienates. An inability to work well with others does not inspire voters." ...
Can the Tea Partiers' beliefs be falsified? I don't think they can be. I mean, is there any evidence that could convince them that the fault here lies with themselves, in the way they conceive politics, and in the way they behaved? It sure doesn't look like it. In that sense, they think of politics as a kind of religion. It's not for nothing that the hardcore House members stood together and sang "Amazing Grace" as the impossibility of their position became ever clearer. They really do bring a religious zealotry to politics.By contrast, Peggy Noonan's Taft seance produces this bit of dialogue:
Let me hasten to say that I'm not endorsing the "Christianist" meme, which I find far too reductive, among other things. Besides, many of the Tea Partiers and fellow travelers are not motivated by religious faith, but by a religious-like zeal for their political ideology. It was like this on the Right before the advent of the Tea Party. There has long been a sense on the Right that the movement must be vigilant against the backsliders and compromisers, who will Betray True Conservatism if you give them the chance. Again, the religious mindset: politics as a purity test. In this worldview, a politician who compromises sells out the True Faith -- and faith, by definition, does not depend on empirical observation to justify itself.
What should the establishment do?I'm with Sullivan and Dreher on this. This is religion to the 'baggers, or if not, it's the title game in a sport -- or maybe a blood sport. It's a contest in which there can be only one winner: two factions enter, one faction leaves.
"Wake up and smell the Sanka! Listen, reason, talk. Advise in friendship. Be open to debate and get broader, ask yourself questions...."
How will a big merge happen?
"Day by day, policy by policy, vote by vote, race by race. On both sides they'll have to keep two things in mind. A little grace goes a long way, and 'A kind word turneth away wrath.'"