Wednesday, April 20, 2016

There. Is. No. Tea. Party: Epilogue

"Conservatism repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce."

-- K. Marx (slightly abused)
For this, I have to take you on a trip through time. Just a little jaunt, back almost exactly seven years to April of 2009.  Barack Obama had been sworn in just a few weeks earlier and the Right -- which had cheered on every Bush Administration debacle and laughed off every Bush Administration crime -- suddenly and completely lost their shit and declared the end of civilization as we know it.

It apparently all began with something called, "Potato Day"...

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... but that's not the story.

The story is about those first, early days of the massive Republican Base re-branding scam called the "Tea Party".

You see,  back in 2009, millions of our fellow citizens who had cheered on the Bush Administration (and screamed "Traitor!" and anyone who dared question the infinite wisdom of George W. Bush) had a sudden and urgent need to completely disavow everything they had said and done for the previous eight years (without, of course, taking any responsibility for saying and doing it) so they could get on with the important business of hating America's first African American president with the heat of 1,000 suns.  In a normal, health democracy, the idea that millions of wingnuts could build a mile-high bonfire out of their Bush/Cheney lawn signs and then dance around it pretending they had never even heard of George W. Bush would be a problem for the nation's top mental health professionals.

But we do not live in a normal, health democracy, and millions of wingnuts really did leap almost overnight from relentlessly praising George W. Bush to deny!deny!denying! him harder and faster and more desperately than Peter denied Christ.

But that's not the story either, because really, Republicans lying en masse and in lockstep isn't even a story anymore: it's just another day in America.

No the real story is how massively well-funded and coordinated this lie was by Fox News and all the usual loathsome creatures of the Right (Media Matters has a sampling of Fox News' wall-to-wall barrage of "These are just plain folks rising spontaneously up again the Evil Gummit!" propaganda here.) The real story was how quickly and cravenly the "respectable" media went along with this transparent hoax.  In Washington D.C., David Brooks turned the act of jogging past one group of protesters into a deep, sociological proof that they were the salt of the Earth,  In Chicago, the local PBS affiliate went all-in with the "We've never even paid attention to politics before" teabagger line of bullshit, failing to do even the most minimal research to find out who they were actually interviewing and what their actual political affiliations really were.  Even the "liberal" New York Times could only manage a tepid, he said/she said, Both Siderist take on this "tea party" thing in which some people say it's a real movement full of awesome, while others say it's just ten square acres of Koch-funded AstroTurf, so who really knows?

And the only people straight up calling bullshit on the whole scam?

Surprise!  Those dirty, disreputable Liberals who no one listens to anyway.

By early 2010, it was absolutely clear to anyone who wasn't a Republican operative or enabler that the "tea party" was emphatically NOT a spontaneous movement of concerned citizens with no previous political affiliation, but was just one more, GOP-manufactured re-branding scam.  Ed Kilgore wrote about it, as did Max Blumenthal (pay-walled site) and E.J. Dionne. There was also this July, 2010 Gallup poll that concluded:
The Tea Party movement has been the focus of media attention during the past year, and has had some success in getting its preferred candidates nominated or elected in the 2009-2010 election cycle. However, as Gallup has pointed out, those who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters are in many ways indistinguishable from, and largely a subset of, Republican identifiers more generally.
But here's the thing.  There was absolutely no stomach in the Beltway media for reporting the obvious fact that these idiots in tricorner hats were nothing but the same old Republican wingnuts who, as one wag put it in 2009...
Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin...have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms.
No, no, no!  Definitely cannot say that because that would violate the new, post-Dubya Generally Accepted Beltway Narrative that all problem are caused by "the extremes on Both Sides" and in the middle there is a"vital Center" full of millions of political virgins who have been moved by the noblest of motives to abandon their neutrality and take to the streets.

Which brings us right up to the present time, where this continues to be the only story the Village is interested in hearing and telling.  Those who obediently sing from the approved hymnal are rewarded, those to stray from the Party line are punished, and once again the possibility of finally bringing the Right to book for its open, suppurating lunacy is buried unto another mountain of Beltway fraud and fairy tales.

In fact, the Beltway's lockout of the truth is now so secure that, just yesterday, Joe Scarborough could come right out and say of course the whole "tea party" thing was bullshit and of course we all knew it  and know with perfect certainty that MSNBC management will not dock his pay one dollar or his camera time one minute and that none of his "Liberal" colleagues will so much as breathe a word of it on the air (h/t Heather at Crooks & Liars)

Because there is a Club.
And you will never be in it.


Unknown said...

Of course Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough would let this one slip. That smug bastard could murder a puppy on live TV and not suffer any loss of prestige at MSNBC or among his Village brethren.

The Teabaggers were a bunch of pissed off, mostly old and almost 100% white and staunchly pro-GOP or at least anti-liberal morons who had no fucking idea what they were even mad about other than that they lost the election and "that boy" in the "White" House was attempting to, you know, govern, without their express approval.

The Beltway media flattered these afstroturfed-into-frenzied-action demented dolts to no end, educating its viewers that the teabaggers were patriotic Amerrricans, concerned about higher taxes (they were at a 60 year low at the time and Obama had just cut them for everyone via the stimulus), the deficit (suddenly became a thing in January 2009! Whocouldaknowed? and they had no idea what caused the deficit to become so large (idiots), or knew exactly what caused it but blamed the Kenyan Usurper anyway (liars)), and big government (which better not touch MY MEDICARE, dammit!). The Villager media's abdication of any responsibility to accurately report on the the teabaggers' actual origins - a corporate-funded and organized unhinged outbreak of racially-charged nihilism and ignorance - was breathtaking in its incompetence and/or mendacity, depending on which media outlet it was.

trgahan said...

But what about the now sad sack local "tea party" organizer who actually thought this was all real?

Who across the heatland got mysterious checks to spend the run up to 2010 midterms organizing the armed, Medicare paid for rascal, misspelled sign waving, rally's; did the "we're independents!" media blitz; and open mike night town halls but hasn't seen a check in their PO Box since the first Monday in November of 2010?

Trump supporters are the Republicans that thought the Tea Party WAS real and was finally going to enable them to put those liberals, feminists, intellectuals, non-Christianists, and XXXX in their place.

bluicebank said...

No Liberal article on the "Tea Party" would be complete without an appropriate etymology on the movement, and that awkward phase when children realize they aren't wearing clothes.

To wit: The Tea Baggers. One source:

In the early days of the astroturf, they didn't know what "tea bag" meant, other than to associate it with tea bags, which the Boston Tea Party did not use.

And so the yokels managed to turn it into a verb. By coincidence, many in the Liberal community began to snicker. I was there, man. We had to snicker loudly and often and long, before it finally dawned on the 'baggers that, even worse than astronomers naming a planet "Uranus" (spawning a Klingon joke), their new verb was already taken.

Eventually they tried to scrub the historical documents and blamed Liberals for the whole unpleasantness.

Lawrence said...

I've never watched Scarborough before. Wow. The woman next to him punches up his sentences with the occasional 'yes, uh huh.' and probably the occasional hand job under the table. And the three deer in the headlights stiffs wait for him to stop rambling so they can chime in with 'Boss, you're absolutely right.' What a freakshow.

bt1138 said...

My favorite lost memory from the Bush years:

"The Unitary Executive"

It's only tyranny when you try to do it, oh dark-skinned one.

Seriously, as the author at this joint always points out, how is it that no one remembers anything, and that there is no history, no recollection of prior things?

jim said...

That open, suppurating lunacy dollar is one heck of a dollar, I tell you what...

Robt said...

"Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin...have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms."

Brilliantly bright and clear quoted description of the illusionary Tea Party .
Or as I call them Tea-publicans.

The Koch organizational grass roots team you decry is closer to any truth than ever explained or spun.

The visuals from their rallies. The Tri corner hats with tea bags hanging from the string stapled to the hats brim. The back of the head with fuzzy hair woman who told McCain Obama was an Arab. These are the John Birchers who in that year was given amnesty to return to the GOP.
They were bussed into the rallies. some admitted payment for attendance.

* It was like the GOP went to AMC on sunday evening and rounded up a bunch of flesh hungry walkers Led them to a rally with the sound of music coming from the ice cream truck luring them by sound..

" And the only people straight up calling bullshit on the whole scam?

Surprise! Those dirty, disreputable Liberals who no one listens to anyway."

I stand proudly at the base of Bulshit Mountain, confessing my guilt as one of many dirty, disreputable Liberal.

Fiddlin Bill said...

What happened to Ms. Maddow, once the bastion of truth? Passing strange, the new MSNBC. Also, what happened to Crystal Ball and Melissa Harris-Perry?

RUKidding said...

Back in 2009, Rachel Maddow was already reporting on MSNBC on the Koch-funded astro-turfed fraud that passed itself off as the putative "Taxed Enough Already" Teabagger "party."

Here's a clip where she tells Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity that he and his patrons are parasites:

So Maddow was already calling out the Teabaggers as a fraud back then. It appears that Scarborough is many years late to this truth-telling, but equally sure that he's richer than ever.

I threw away my tv and haven't watched Rachel Maddow or MSNBC in quite a long time, so I have no idea what kind of a job Maddow does these days. I know that her big rich bosses put her on a pretty short leash. Oh well. Too bad, so sad get used to it.

Yeah, people like Maddow - and the rest of the DFHs - called out the Teabaggers for the ever-willing dupes that they were and remain so to this day. A lot of people grifted a lot of money off of them, which was one of the points of the whole scam.

The big push was for them to go rant, tirade and throw temper tantrums in 2009 at Town Halls across Murka shrieking and demanding to get "MY country back" (from the N****r in OUR White House), plus shriek about sochulized medsin and get yer gubmint outta my Medicare and other similar bon mots all whilst calling themselves Tea Baggers until the Men in Black zapped them with that pen-thing and they forgot that term and insisted they always were called the Tea Party blah blah de blah blah.

What a buncha tools. I have super rightwing family members who attended lots of those rallies back in the day. Same ones who cried (really) when SARAH LOST (not McCain; always about Tundra Trash). Nowadays they claim to be voting for sleazy Cruzer. They don't like Trump, interestingly enough. They don't talk about the Tea Party anymore, either. I guess the Men in Black came along and used that nifty pen-forgetter machine on them.

Hard to keep up with what's "IN" and what's "OUT" with conservatards, other than the reliable stand-bys of bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and now hating on trannies who use the wrong bathroom.

Guess it doesn't matter that Scarborough tells the troof about the scam that was the Tea Party because who's paying attention anyway? Those old Baggers probably done forgot all about it by now anyway. Next GRIFT?? Ya know there's one coming along any minute now.

Unknown said...

I was at one of the first 'appearances' of the teabaggers. As we all stood in line waiting to enter the venue, I talked to a lot of these spontaneous activists (90%+ retired military). Almost all of them were bused to the event from South Carolina (event was in Philadelphia). They were shepherded by gooper Hill staffers, still wearing their ID badges on lanyards. The protesters had scripts on what to say, since almost none of them knew anything about ACA, except that the black muslim was behind it. They did succeed in disrupting the meeting. And the video of the town hall was almost exclusively about their protest. So a tip of the hat to DeMint, Armey, et al, for nice choreography.
If you want to call that spontaneous, then I've been using the word incorrectly for many decades.

Leslie Fish said...

Actually, there was an original Tea Party before Obama's inauguration; it was a grassroots basically Libertarian movement wanting tax reform (the "tea" referred to "Taxed Enough Already") and a reduction of intrusive govt. bureaucracy. Its speech-makers almost always referred to Ayn Rand and the Bill of Rights, and its activists did things like collect blankets for survivors of hurricane Katrina and drive them to N'Awlins themselves. The movement's directness and simplicity drew a lot of followers, and the NeoCons took notice. Soon after that, they infiltrated the movement and took it over. Once the NeoCons started spouting their usual garbage, the moderates and Libertarians quit in disgust. Soon there was nobody left but the nutcase NeoCons, and the movement died. No, there is indeed no Tea Party anymore.

I've seen this kind of political parasitism before (SDS, NOW, others), and I make a point of warning all budding grassroots political groups to watch out for it. Right from the beginning, you must make a *clear definition* of your ideology, and make every member swear to it. Thereafter, make a public show of kicking out any member who doesn't adhere to that statement. Better to lose members through purges than to lose the whole organization through takeover.