The Victory of Conversation Rings Hollow


Today I was disappointed to hear an emerging media narrative in which the “Tea Party has changed the conversation.”  On this basis, it’s implied that the Tea Party should declare victory, shut up and return to their lives in ‘Hobbiton.’   That’s the spin offered by the media, and even Greta Van Susteren mouthed this meme in her conversation with Sarah Palin tonight on Fox News.  She referenced an idea that Tea Party folk may just wish to “get on with their lives.”  While bashing them over the head with the slurs of ‘terrorist’ and ‘schizophrenic’, never mind ‘hobbit,’ they are then gently tempted by the media to quit the battle and go home?  As preposterous as this is, I’m sure it’s a bit tempting to some Tea Party faithful, because after more than two years of committed activism, they have found that many of the people they helped to elect are writing off their importance.  It’s as though the establishment is offering them the carrot while waving the stick at their flank:  “Go return to your lives in peace, and quietly, or face more of our brutal and dishonest warfare against you.”  For all the talk of the change in conversation, given the actual voting, and the direction of the resultant legislation, it may be aptly said that it’s been another Washington tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The DC establishment knows that the Tea Party represents a large and still burgeoning faction, made up in part by previously disaffected voters, who in disgust at the state of politics, had taken a long leave of absence from the fight.  What the Beltway crowd hopes is that with a little coaxing, the Tea Party movement will lose its fire and return in dejected silence to its previous state of disaffection, a brush-fire extinguished in its first sparks.  What official Washington had hoped is that by giving them an easy exit, they’d shuffle off home.  Instead, what the facts on the ground are revealing is that rather than succumbing to a hunger for a carrot they can never reach, the Tea Party is proving much more resilient, and seems no longer to fear the stick.

So what should we make of this supposed victory?  Well, according to Governor Palin, we shouldn’t take this victory to be all that significant.  Did the Tea Party succeed in changing the conversation?  Perhaps, but as she rightly points out, even modest reforms such as the idea that new bills should be placed on the Internet for 72 hours prior to votes has not been respected, despite pledges from the Tea Party freshmen to do so.  One of the more interesting things to be understood from Van Susteren’s interview with Sarah Palin is her use of the word “we” in the context of the efficacy of the Tea Party.  This may signify something much more newsworthy for those observers tuned to nuance, because what this admits is that Sarah Palin sees herself as part of the Tea Party.  In more than one instance, she’s gone out of her way to stress that the Tea Party doesn’t need a leader, in the sense of an ordinary party, in part because the movement is composed of independent-minded people, who by virtue of their character and inclination, are already leaders, each unto themselves.  Tightly in line with Limbaugh’s thesis that “We’re all Sarah Palin, now”, this aspect is fundamental in understanding why Palin is different: She’s one of us.

As Governor Palin reminds us, this new bill, while allegedly a conversational victory for the Tea Party, actually accomplishes little, unless you’re Barack Obama.  Spending continues unrestrained for the next two years, minus some trivial cuts, and the elephant in the room that few will mention in this conversation is that if our credit rating is downgraded, as is now the expectation despite this ‘deal,’ the resultant rates of interest we’ll pay in service of our debts will balloon out of all proportion, easily swallowing these minor savings.  As she likewise reminds us, this is just another instance of Washington kicking the can down the road, while placating Obama with more money to spend as frivolously as ever.

If you’re inclined, like me, to see this as much less than a full victory, just realize that this has been a mere opening round in what will be a long and dogged fight to restore the nation’s fiscal and financial course.  It’s going to take a good deal more than a bunch of propped-up, beltway happy-talk to cure what ails our country.  Clearly, the gains made in the house of Representatives haven’t been nearly sufficient to turn the tide, although offering some slight solace.   The Tea Party will need to augment those numbers, replacing weak members, and adding new, stronger members, both in the House and Senate, but most especially at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue where our President spends money we’ll borrow at escalating rates in euphoric rapture at his own victory.  This fight is long from over, and while contrary to the hopes and urgings of the Beltway establishment, the Tea Party isn’t going anywhere.


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3 Responses to The Victory of Conversation Rings Hollow

  1. Suzette Rodgers says:

    this makes me think of major mind control. Is there a way to find out if someone is being hyptmotized. Doesn't that sound scary. It would explain what is going on.. Make sure Sarah doesn't come in contact with the one.

  2. Jim Bell says:

    Politics has always been about corruption, power and mind control with the media as a willing accomplice. Thought I has found a media outlet that, for the most part, was above it but alas I have been proven wrong. FNC is morphing into MSNBC lite before my eyes. Thinking about dropping them all together and going with Glenn Beck TV. Find I'm getting most of my news off the Blaze anyway, might as well have a clean sweep.

    It isn't that I only want to hear those that are like minded but people / media must be consistent and Fox is becoming inconsistent. Take Stewart Varney for instance, he has always railed against the size of the debt, until he thought the Tea Party might succeed in preventing it from being raised. Then he railed against the Tea Party, telling the "default" lie over and over. Soon as the Obamanation Debt Deal passed the House, he's back on the size of the debt getting us downgraded.

    Just turned the damn thing off.

    • MarkAmerica says:

      Jim, I noticed the same thing about Varney, and in fact, I was taken aback by it. Like you, I've grown suspicious of Fox News in its conduct, and I've begun to wonder about its corporate motives.