Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taibbi’s Tea

About a year ago, Megan McArdle wrote this about trendy rolling stone journalist Matt Taibbi’s attempts to pin our financial mess on rich bankers:

What I think, sadly, is that Matt Taibbi is becoming the Sarah Palin of journalism.  He seems to deliberately eschew understanding his subjects, because only corrupt, pointy-headed financial journalists who have been co-opted by the system do that.  And Matt Taibbi is here to save you from those pointy headed elites.

Taibbi is a gifted narrative journalist, whose verbal talents I greatly admire.  But financial meltdowns don’t offer villains, for the simple reason that no one person or even one group is powerful enough to take down a whole system.  Confronted with this, Taibbi doesn’t back away from the narrative form, or apply it to smaller questions where it is more appropriate, as William Cohan did in House of Cards.  Instead, he grabs whoever’s nearest to hand and builds them up into a gigantic straw villian, which he proceeds to bash with a handful of recently acquired technical terms that he clearly doesn’t quite understand.  It’s not that everything he says is wrong, but the bits that are true aren’t interesting, and the bits that are interesting aren’t true.  The whole thing dissolves into the kind of conspiracy theory he so ably lampooned in The Great Derangement.  The result is something that’s not even wrong.  It’s just incoherent.

The post is worth a read.  But I’m reminded of it because today Taibbi has an article in Rolling Stone analyzing the Tea Parties ("the dingbat revolution” as he calls it) which is one of the most condescending sneering political pieces I have ever read.  Buried within it is a legitimate point—that the disorganized nature of the Tea Parties puts them in danger of simply being co-opted by the Republican Party.  He makes a good point about Rand Paul now toeing the GOP line on the issues.  But that point quickly vanishes beneath an ocean of insults, snide remarks and broad brush generalizations.

He starts out by going in on Sarah Palin.  But as I have noted about a million times, Sarah Palin is not the Tea Party.  Again, I refer to the Rauch article about how unorganized the Tea Partiers are.  And that’s just the first paragraph.  He also claims the tea parties started with Rick Santelli’s CNN rant (they didn’t), they they a product of Freedomworks and the eeevil Koch Brothers (they’re not) and the fundamentalist tinge to the Kentucky GOP represents the entire nation (it doesn’t).  This is fairly typical:

It’s not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It’s just that they’re shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid. I hear this theme over and over — as I do on a recent trip to northern Kentucky, where I decide to stick on a Rand Paul button and sit in on a Tea Party event at a local amusement park. Before long, a group of about a half-dozen Tea Partiers begin speculating about how Obamacare will force emergency-room doctors to consult “death panels” that will evaluate your worth as a human being before deciding to treat you.

You know, I’m not a big-time journalist, but I have spoken to numerous members of Tea Parties. The subject of race rarely comes up.  The subject of our impending bankruptcy is what I hear about—over and over and over again.  Massive government is THE issue.  You will find Religious Right loons, you will find anti-abortion zealots, you will find anti-immigration types, you will find nutbag libertarians like me.  Hell, you’ll probably even find saucer people. If that’s all you’re looking for, you’ll find it.  But the over-arching concern, the unifying theme, is the explosion of government spending and the danger of long-term debt.  Maybe they aren’t serious about it—willing to countenance tax hikes or cuts to Medicare and defense.  But that is the issue.

Another quote, based on his visit to the ridiculous Discovery Museum:

The Tea Party is many things at once, but one way or another, it almost always comes back to a campaign against that unsafe urban hellscape of godless liberalism we call our modern world.

No, it’s a campaign against the bankrupt, government-controlled world that we fear lies in our future.

He also ignores one very very critical point in all this: the general public does not trust the Republicans.  They have not, as he claims, forgotten what happened to them ten seconds ago.  They simply have no alternative if they are to break the Democrats’ hold on power.  They thumped the Republicans twice, now they are prepared to thump the Democrats. And they’ll thump the Republicans again if they get into power and start racking up debt again.  The voter may be an angry man with a 2x4 in his hand. But at the moment, he’s using to beat anything that moves—Republican or Democrat.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 09/30/10 at 08:05 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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