Megan McArdle argues the tea party movement never would have gotten off the ground if Hillary Clinton had been elected president in 2008:
... I think that Hillary Clinton would have been more cautious when dealing with Republicans, and therefore ultimately more successful in some ways. At the very least, she would not be facing the same level of vehement opposition in Congress.That's a load of bollocks.
I think liberals really do not understand emotionally the extent to which the Tea Party was created by the Affordable Care Act and the feeling that its government was simply steamrolling it....
Liberals tend to write off this anger as racism, as irrational hatred of Barack Obama, or as perverse joy in denying health care to the poor, but at its root, it's the simpler feeling that your country is making a mistake and you can't stop it because the people in charge are ignoring the obvious. Yes, a lot of money and energy was poured into the Tea Party by rich backers, but rich backers cannot create a grassroots campaign unless the underlying passion is there in the voters (paging Karl Rove and Crossroads). The Obama administration created that passion with Obamacare.
I think that Hillary Clinton would have pulled back when Rahm Emanuel (or his counterfactual Clinton administration counterpart) told her that this was a political loser and she should drop it....
That’s not to say that Republicans would have somehow been all kissy-kissy with Clinton -- they weren’t very nice to her husband, after all. She would of course still have faced stiff opposition in Congress.... But I doubt she would have had the debt ceiling debacle or the deep gridlock of the last four years, because it was Obamacare that elected a fresh new class of deeply ideological Republicans who thought they were having their own transformative political movement....
BooMan thinks it's a load of bollocks because Hillary was unlikely to have shrunk from the fight:
Would Hillary have countenanced losing on health care for a second time when she still had a path to victory?Maybe she would have pulled back, maybe not. But it doesn't matter, because the tea party wasn't about Obamacare at first.
Did anything she did on the campaign trail in 2008 indicate that she's the kind of woman who folds her tent and gives up when the odds look stacked against her?
There is no question in my mind that Hillary Clinton would done exactly what President Obama did because she would have seen failure on health care as unthinkable so long as it could be avoided.
Remember the "Tax Day Tea Party" demonstrations on April 15, 2009 -- the ones Fox News happily agreed to co-brand?
Let's go to the news coverage of those protests. This is from CNN:
... Financial-industry and automotive bailouts were launched at the end of George W. Bush's presidency, but many demonstrators aimed their words and signs at the Obama administration, criticizing it in part for the recently passed stimulus package.
The $787 billion economic stimulus bill President Obama signed in February "was basically shoved down the throat of the American people," Welsh said.
"Now is not the time to be running a $700 billion dollar plus budget through that people did not talk about, that people did not read," Welsh said....
At one protest Wednesday morning a sign read, "I read as much of the stimulus bill as my Congresswoman."
... Bloggers in Seattle, Washington, were the first to bring conservatives together for a rally on February 16 against what they saw as too many government handouts to banks, the auto and mortgage industries....
The embers turned into a raging fire when later that month, CNBC personality Rick Santelli went off on Obama's policies live on air.
"The government is promoting bad behavior," Santelli said, asking why Obama would make Americans who pay their bills subsidize the mortgages of "losers."
Santelli said he wanted a tea party to happen in Chicago, Illinois, to stand up and angrily demand "No more." ...
The outrage spread....
And this is from The New York Times:
... In Pensacola, Fla., about 500 protesters lined a busy street, some ... carrying signs reading "Got Pork?" and "D.C.: District of Corruption." ...Did the escalating protests come to focus on health care, particularly at congressional town-hall forums in the summer of 2009? Yes -- but that's because Democrats gave angry right-wingers a fat target by holding so many Obamacare-oriented gatherings. The crazies were goaded to anger long before their focus was directed to health care, and they've been angry about plenty of other things since then. Take health care away and you've still got the stimulus and financial bailouts and the auto bailout and immigration and tax policy and "czars" and, later, Benghazi and gun control -- as well as, frankly, the general notion that government should help people in need (which the crazies refer to at all times as "socialism"). The tea party strategy was based on ginning up outrage in general, not specifically about health care. Health care was just a useful peg to hang the rage on.
In downtown Houston, ... American flags abounded, along with hand-painted placards that bore messages like "Abolish the I.R.S.," "Less Government More Free Enterprise," "We Miss Reagan" and "Honk if You Are Upset About Your Tax Dollars Being Spent on Illegal Aliens."
... Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah, a Republican, was booed in Salt Lake City for accepting about $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money, and in Alaska, hundreds of people held signs and chanted "No more spending," The Associated Press reported....
The only way President Hillary could have avoided Obama's fate would have been by abandoning every promise she ran on and adopting John McCain platform in its entirety -- and even then the rabble and their rousers probably would have made her a target, just out of the need to focus the rage.
So, no, Hillary's loss didn't allow the tea party to go wild. That riot was planned from the start.