Thursday, September 16, 2010


I agree with some aspects of Glenn Greenwald's latest post on the tea party, but this is taking anti-elitism to an absurd conclusion:

...there are some reactions to the Tea Party movement coming from many different directions -- illustrated by the patronizing mockery of Christine O'Donnell -- which I find quite misguided, revealingly condescending, and somewhat obnoxious.

Greenwald goes on to cite the Fox News segment during which Karl Rove talked about O'Donnell's financial troubles and legal issues. Greenwald concludes that O'Donnell is just a victim of The System:

Most people are not like Rove's political patron, George W. Bush, who was born into extreme family wealth. O'Donnell's financial difficulties, which Rove is describing, and implicitly condemning, are far from unusual for ordinary Americans.

But, O'Donnell is not an ordinary American. In fact, pedigree aside, O'Donnell has a hell of a lot more in common with George W. Bush than with most ordinary Americans -- in fact, I'd say she's spent most of her adult life trying to be a sort of George W. Bush.

What I mean is that O'Donnell at 41 is very much like Bush at 40 -- he avoided politics, she's steeped herself in politics, but what they have in common is the desire to bypass any dues-paying (and, for the most part, any actual jobs) and get straight to the top on very little effort and quite a bit of self-esteem.

Bush started fifth-rate energy companies. O'Donnell started a fifth-rate Christian-right group, the Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth. Bush relied on Daddy's rich friends. O'Donnell relied on wingnut welfare, receiving a Claremont Institute fellowship and then taking a job with the Scaife-, Bradley-, and Olin-funded Intercollegiate Studies Institute; she's also worked for the Republican National Committee and Concerned Women for America. Bush, when he turned to politics, aimed high right away -- his first second race (after a failed House bid) was for governor. O'Donnell, who also has never held office, has run three U.S. Senate campaigns since 2006.

This life path bears no resemblance whatsoever to the paths of most people who are suffering in the current financial crisis. Running three Senate campaigns after losing a $65,000-a-year job is not how most victims of the foreclosure crisis got in financial trouble.

The larger point of Greenwald's post is that the current crop of wingnuts isn't very different from wingnuts past, and that if we -- left and right -- disagree, it's our class bigotry showing. I think Greenwald has a point on foreign policy, but the radical government-defunding demands on the domestic side have never really had purchase on the right the way they may have in the next Congress. That's not about class -- that's about an ever-increasing extremism becoming mainstream.


ALSO: If it's "patronizing" to mock O'Donnell's MTV video, is it also "patronizing" to mock Carl Palladino for forwarding racist and pornographic e-mails? Do we refrain from criticizing him because he's not a well-schooled Beltway elitist but, rather, a crude guy from the construction industry -- even though what that means in his case is that he's a multimillionaire who collects millions of dollars a year from government agencies in western New York State?

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