Sunday, January 30, 2011


Funny thing -- if you were to believe some of what we've heard about the tea party movement since its inception, you'd expect that one of the messages we'd be hearing loud and clear right now from the tea-saturated GOP is old-school noninterventionism wth regard to Egypt and the other Muslim nations experiencing unrest. After all, we're told on a regular basis that the teabaggers aren't with the imperialist program of the Bush/Cheney GOP -- hey, there was Rand Paul a couple of days ago calling for an end to U.S. foreign aid, including aid to Israel (and, clearly, the Mubarak regime in Egypt as well). We hear that the teabaggers are skeptical about intervention in general and don't consider the Pentagon budget sacrosanct.

And that should be a big deal, right? After all, as Politico noted this week, mainstream Republicans now seem to be afraid to criticize teabaggers such as Michele Bachmann. As Frank Rich notes today, Bachmann stole Paul Ryan's thunder (if "thunder" is the right word for it) with her rogue response to the State of the Union address, and, as Kate Zernike notes elsewhere in today's New York Times, teabaggers are redoubling their efforts to oust pretty much any incumbent Republican who's ever voted with the Democrats on anything -- targets in 2012 include not just Olympia Snowe but Orrin Harch and Richard Lugar, and the 'baggers are working to agree on challengers to these deviants from Correct Thinking so they'll be certain to defeat them.

But, um, I don't notice the tea types putting this kind of pressure on the GOP establishment with regard to foreign policy. There seem to be two strains of Republican thought, to be sure -- Obama sucks because he's not pro-rebel enough and Obama sucks because he's not pro-Mubarak enough -- with the latter line gradually gaining ground.

The notion that teabaggers (or at least teabaggers not surnamed Paul) have ever been all that serious about rethinking the national security state has always seemed absurd. These folks are Republicans, for heaven's sake; no notion appeals to them more than identifying figures of (allegedly) undiluted and seemingly unstoppable evil and fantasizing that these evil figures can be thwarted with no moral compromise and no collateral damage to any good people.

I think the teabaggers are just going to fall in line with the notion that evil Obama is weakening our alliance with a crucial ally and creating an opening for the Egyptian opposition, which increasingly, in the righties' telling, isn't a broad range of actors at all, but basically consists of nothing but the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. You can do one-stop shopping for this line of thinking by going to this post at Sister Toldjah's blog, which collects choice links quoting John Bolton ("You just mentioned the Suez Canal, how would you like the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of that waterway?"), Michael Ledeen (who says Obama's failure was not urging Mubarak and Ben-Ali and the like to be less tyrannical, a bit of advice I'm sure he never offered when a Republican was in power), and Stratfor (a report that Hamas forces are being allowed to enter Egypt is quoted; Stratfor's caveat that this report comes from a Hamas source, and that Hamas has a vested interest in exaggerating its role in this crisis, isn't quoted -- what a surprise).

Teabaggers say they care about "limited government" -- but they care much more about smiting. They'll fall in line with this, or with whatever the GOP mainstream offers as a subsequent narrative of Muslims and U.S. Democrats who jointly want to destroy America.

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