So where's Rand Paul right now? He's supposed to be the leader of a new-style conservative faction that's deeply skeptical of foreign entanglements -- why isn't he rushing before cameras to denounce the pounding of Iraq war drums by John McCain, John Boehner, and other Republicans? Just yesterday, Ron Fournier was telling us that the defeat of Eric Cantor signaled a possible "populist revolution" that might unite left and right on six principles, the first of which was
A pullback from the rest of the world, with more of an inward focus.So? Where are all the passionate tea party voices of pullback? I'm waiting.
But you're an idiot if you've ever believed that teabaggery is about anything other than defeating enemies (Democrats, insufficiently pure Republicans) and crushing liberalism. Some Very Serious Thinkers are falling into that sort of naivete with regard to Dave Brat, the guy who beat Cantor: over at The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza tells us that Brat is just like Elizabeth Warren -- oh, apart from that wanting-to-repeal-the-New-Deal thing. No, really:
From what I've observed, Brat has not talked like a forty-seven-per-cent conservative complaining about how tax dollars are being shovelled to the undeserving poor (although maybe he does believe that and didn't emphasize it in the campaign). He comes across, instead, like a ninety-nine-per-cent conservative who sees the real villain as corporate America and its addiction to government largesse. One of his biggest applause lines is about how bankers should have gone to jail after the 2008 financial crisis. Brat is the Elizabeth Warren of the right....But here was Paul Ryan in August 2012 sounding exactly like Dave Brat:
Granted, at the core of Brat's ideology is an unvarnished belief, one that does not maintain majority support in any recent national poll that I have encountered, that the government should return to its pre-New Deal roots. This is not surprising. He's a libertarian. But his message, which today is being embraced by Tea Party candidates around the country, is also sharply different from the Romney-Ryan view of limited government celebrated by Republicans in 2012.
"The United States tax code is a mess. We've got to get out of the game of Washington picking winners and losers through the tax code. These special interest loopholes end up rewarding a few while raising taxes on everyone else. We want to remove these barriers of upward mobility and opportunity to have a true entrepreneurial form of capitalism, not crony capitalism," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on the House floor today.Romney may never have mastered that talking point, but the rest of the GOP did. And it's a crock, because the establishmentarians don't really have any intention of eliminating loopholes that enrich the wealthy.
And as for the teabaggers: as The New Republic's Alec MacGillis notes, the 20009-2010 first wave of the tea party, "if its rhetoric was to be believed, ... was also driven by a healthy dose of old-fashioned anti-Wall Street populism -- anger over the TARP bailouts, the AIG bonuses, the Obama administration's failure to prosecute any of the bankers who'd brought us close to ruin." But Eric Cantor
goaded the insurgent congressmen to make the raising of the debt-ceiling limit in June of 2011 their big stand against Obama.... It was he who undermined Speaker John Boehner's effort to reach a grand bargain with Obama to pull the nation back from the brink, by riling up rank-and-file conservatives against the deal. It was a brilliant display: in one fell swoop, Cantor was able to protect the financiers' carried-interest loophole (which Obama sought to close as part of the deal) at the same very time as he was serving as the champion of the Tea Party insurgents.But why were these teabaggers so rile-able on behalf of the very bankers they claimed to loathe? It was because they may have claimed to hate "crony capitalism," but they hate liberalism far, far more.
The point of MacGillis's story is that Brat beat Cantor because teabaggers really, really mean it this time when they say they're sick of cronyism. I don't buy it. Cantor failed to bring about the Randian revolution. Obama is still president. Obamacare is still the law of the land. The social safety net still exists. Immigration reform is still on the table. America is still not officially a white Christian theocracy. That's why Republican incumbents are vulnerable.
If you're stupid enough to think that Dave Brat, or even a wave of Dave Brats, is going to go after the privileges of the rich when there's so much liberalism to overthrow, you're naive -- the last wave of Dave Brats promised to do that and happily made common cause with the #1 crony capitalist in the House because crushing liberalism was much more of a priority. (Brat -- the guy Lizza calls a 99 percenter -- actually wants to cut Social Security by two-thirds and gut education spending.)
These people will never step up to challenge crony capitalism any more than Rand Paul will step up to challenge interventionism. The real enemy is liberalism. That's all they care about.