Thursday, November 11, 2010

Article Of The Week

The New Republic article, appearing in the 10/14/10 issue, is entitled "The Price of Tea." Online (only), dated 9/22/10, it is subtitled "When a foe of masturbation wins in Delaware, we all lose." In the magazine, there are two donkeys, one male and one female, both dressed in formal wear as human beings. They are yapping it up, oblivious to the storm clouds above them. Online, this illustration is (as you can see) replaced by a picture of Christine O'Donnell.

The online illustration much more clearly illustrates the theme of the article, which is at least as relevant now as it was before the election. TNR notes that Nancy Pelosi and Donna Brazile are gleeful at the rise of the tea party because they believe voters will choose the more reasonable and moderate candidates of the Democratic Party. But the nomination of someone as radical, unqualified and unserious as Christine O'Donnell represents

part of a trend that merits no such happy talk. Elections are not just occasions when seats are held or lost. They are moments when ideas gain currency, when the ideological mainstream is remade. Candidacies like the Tea Parties’ have historically had the effect of transporting issues from the province of cranks into acceptable political discourse.

Recognizing the GOP and the tea party together are taking "traditional, limited-government conservatism and transforming it into a new beast: a constitutional vision that would radically constrain the federal government," the editors conclude

In the face of this challenge to liberalism, it is not enough for Democrats to play pundit—to merely take to the TV talk shows and express their hope that the public will intuit and then reject the new radicalism. Democrats need to shred it. And, unfortunately, Barack Obama seems to have no interest in mounting a full-scale assault on this ideology. When The New York Times reported that the White House was mulling ads attacking the Tea Party, David Axelrod furiously denied any such plans. This seems a horrible misreading of the electorate. How will the public understand the implications of the Tea Party’s constitutional conservatism if they are not explored—and not attacked? The president and his party can’t even bring themselves to explain how a Republican majority will redouble its assault on Social Security and Medicare, let alone expose the darker reaches of Tea Party thinking. Choices are only clear when we make them so.

The editors are not claiming psychic abilities, but should be excused if they do. David Axelrod Wednesday suggested that the Administration is getting ready to cave in to the GOP on tax cuts for the wealthy and claimed "We have to deal with the world as we find it, the world of what it takes to get this done....." At his press conference the day after the election, President Obama had whined "I've got to do a better job, like everybody else in Washington.... We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things were done."

That sounds an awful lot like the President whose timid, tepid measures have failed to strike aggressively at the destruction of the housing market by Wall Street and reverse the economic downturn. TNR Senior Editor Noam Scheiber noted that in his State of the Union address in January, Obama tossed aside any populist inclination to draw a distinction between his party and the GOP, instead

ridiculing the practice of “saying anything about the other side, no matter how false” and bashing the Beltway habit of treating “every day” like “Election Day.” He elaborated on these anti-Washington themes throughout the winter and spring, despite pleas that he target Republican policies instead. “There had in the interim been conversations with some of the folks over at the White House on beginning to draw the contrast more sharply,” says one House official. “People were surprised that the contrasts weren’t being drawn."

We saw the results on November 2, as did an intimidated President. Choices are, in fact, clear only when we make them so.


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