"Conservatism repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce."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.
-- K. Marx (slightly abused)
It apparently all began with something called, "Potato Day"...
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c Baracknophobia - Obey
Political Humor Health Care Reform
... 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 foe 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 on 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.