It’s been said before, and better, but it bears repeating: the Tea Party is a cancer on the Republican organization. Though hopefully not malignant, it ain’t good. And it’s unsightly.
When the sainted Bill Buckley first won prominence, one of his earliest tasks was to run the nuts out of conservatism. Chiefly: the John Birch Society. Once things were sufficiently fumigated, National Review and he helped elect President Reagan who, in turn, introduced the idea of “big tent” Republican politics. That is, the tent was big enough for everybody (except the loonies, who are to the Republicans what Al Qaeda is to Islam).
What followed was the nascence of the modern GOP, not to mention national prosperity and international laurels.
Now, a band of Fascist pirates in conservative clothing has hijacked the tent by shouting down the moderates and seems intent on a Bachmann caliphate. Loonies will be loonies – they insist on it – but their war whoops are stealing thunder from legitimate Republican contenders for the presidency. That is, candidates who have some grasp of American history and geography.
Even John McCain recently faced a stiff re-election challenge from a Tea Party candidate in Arizona.
What’s more, Tea Party grandstanding detracts from deserving conservative thinkers and stains the entire right. Who steals my purse steals trash… but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed. [Othello, act 3, scene 3.]
With Mr. Buckley having ascended to harpsichord music and regattas eternal, who will cleanse and re-dedicate the temple? His protege and former National Review staffer David Brooks, now of The New York Times, gave it a shot when he criticized Rush Limbaugh in that paper. The probem was, Mr. Brooks’ column reaches about a quarter as many left-leaning intellectuals as Mr. Limbaugh’s radio program reaches hard-right fundamentalists.
Which meant, ironically, when Mr. Limbaugh denounced Mr. Brooks on-air, Mr. Brooks was probably one of the few in the audience who had ever heard of David Brooks (or the Times).
And anway, Mr. Brooks (though a wizard – albeit of a lesser stripe than his mentor – with words) isn’t the dynamo Bill Buckley was. He’s a scholar, not a general.
The challenge in re-directing the flock is that the most vocal members of it have sworn off intellectualism. Or, for that matter, almost any -ism. That stuff sounds too much like Socialism. (Which they venemously denounce, despite cashing Social Security checks and claiming Medicare benefits).
The whole production, as Mr. Buckley might have written, is simply too much for words. Here’s hoping for a conservative spring… Al Aribya coverage optional.