One-time theater critic turned left-wing screedist, Frank Rich, is down in the dumps over that darned ol’ tea party. Far from being down and out, Rich says, the tea party is alive and well and living within the Republican Party itself. Far from being a political fringe, the tea party is still strong and in the GOP mainstream. Worse, in Rich’s eyes, it will beat liberalism every time because it isn’t just a phase, it is America’s core political ideology.
Now, the amazing thing is that Rich’s general point, that conservatism and tea party ideals are here to stay and have always been here in one form or another, is completely correct. After all, though Rich doesn’t seem to see this truism, tea party ideals were not fashioned out of whole cloth. They are explications of our founder’s most cherished ideals.
No, what is amazing about Rich’s piece is that while he has the final conclusion right, he goes on for paragraph after paragraph after paragraph in a long winded piece misstating, garbling, and downright dissembling about the facts, the history, and the events that lead to his conclusion.
Early in his piece he sets up his premise.
“History tells us that American liberals have long underestimated the reach and resilience of the right, repeatedly dismissing it as a lunatic fringe and pronouncing it dead only to watch it bounce back stronger after each setback.”
This certainly rings true.
After many long paragraphs, Rich rightly concludes his piece saying, “if history has taught us anything over the past half-century, it s that the American right s death wish is a figment of the liberal imagination.”
Oh, the humanities.
At the outset of his article, Rich does do a nice job of relating the arrogance of the left as evinced by such liberal icons as Lionel Trilling and Richard Hofstadter, both of whom said that liberalism had become the sole legitimate American ideology in the post WWII world. But even as these folks were puffing themselves up as the victors over the “paranoid” and “anti-intellectual” right, Barry Goldwater started a new trend of conservatism though he disastrously lost his 1964 bid for the White House.
It wasn’t long, Rich notes, until in Ronald Reagan we had a hugely popular and successful conservative as president and a whole new world of conservatism began to ascend to places of power throughout the country quite despite those smarter liberals and their new “permanent” primacy.
Rich was rueful about this never dying conservative movement. “But no matter how many times the conservative bogeyman came back from the dead along the way, liberals were shocked at every resurrection,” he laments.
“Such is the power of denial that we simply refuse to concede that, by the metric of intractability, at least, conservatives are the cockroaches of the American body politic, poised to outlast us all.”
But in getting from his premise to his conclusion, his piece is like reading four pages of being told the moon is made of green cheese only to find a conclusion that informs us, and properly so, that it’s really made up of cosmic dust and rocks.
Rich’s piece is filled with so many lies, calumnies, and misstatements about the right and conservatives, that it really is amazing that he understands that conservatism isn’t a passing phase that a triumphant liberal establishment can kill off for good.
Just as amazingly, Rich does not bother to substantiate any of his statements of fact about these evil conservatives anywhere in his piece. He simply makes an emotional, shrill accusation and then moves on as if it were obvious truth. His every assertion is less fact and more like a liberal’s religious-like received wisdom.
The only way I can think of to go on from here is to just Fisk the darn thing. So let’s look at his most egregious claims.
History is a set of lies agreed upon.
“This is a nation that loathes government and always has. Liberals should not be deluded: The Goldwater revolution will ultimately triumph, regardless of what happens in November.”
Now, this is an interesting sentence. First Rich says that this loathing of government has always been with us, but then he localizes it to Goldwater. This is truly a contradiction. If we’ve always loathed government, then “The Goldwater revolution” wasn’t much of a leap outside the norm, was it?
But, you see what Rich’s problem is here, don’t you? Even as he seems to understand that Americans have had a distrust of government since day one, he doesn’t seem to understand that it is his brand of left-wingism that is the aberration in this country. It isn’t that conservatism is like a darn cockroach and keeps coming back, it’s that liberalism isn’t really an American ideology in the first place and is a weak sister that can’t win over the soul of the nation.
“Our down-to-the-wire presidential contest is arguably just a narrative speed bump in the scenario that has been gathering steam throughout the Obama presidency: the resurgence of the American right, the most determined and coherent political force in America.”
This is another example of how he doesn’t quite understand it all. Conservatism didn’t experience resurgence because Obama is black or even because he’s liberal. First off, conservatism never went away in the first place. But the resurgence came because of Obama’s anti-American ideals and policies.
“There is a case to be made that a tea-party-infused GOP will have a serious shot at winning future national elections despite the widespread liberal belief (which I have shared) that any party as white, old, and male as the Republicans is doomed to near or complete extinction by the emerging demographics of 21st-≠century America.”
Like many liberals, Rich imagines that the GOP is just for white people — and white men at that. But it isn’t a party that he battles and that is the mistake he makes. It is the very American ideas that are today most closely embodied by the Republican Party that is winning the day. Beginning with FDR and accelerated by LBJ and McGovern, the Democrat Party long ago left behind Americanness. The draw of real American ideals doesn’t just appeal to white men.
“So toxic is the brand that not one of the 51 prime-time speakers at the GOP convention in Tampa dared speak its name, including such tea-party heartthrobs as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Scott Brown, who became an early tea-party hero for unexpectedly taking Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in 2010, has barely alluded to the affiliation since.”
“So toxic is the brand.” This is not a truth. The tea party “brand” is not “toxic” because of what its members did. It is “toxic” merely because the Old Media establishment says it is and has beaten that drum so long and so loud that too many now believe it. It’s the lie said enough that it became accepted as fact. After all, if the tea party were toxic, Rich wouldn’t be writing this piece lamenting that the tea party is still strong!
Additionally, the tea party did get a thrill out of Senator Scott Brown taking “Ted Kennedy’s seat” away from the Democrats, true enough. But no tea partier in the country claims Scott Brown as one of them.
And, Mr. Rich, may I remind you that the Senate seat in Massachusetts is not “Ted Kennedy’s seat.” It is the people’s seat.
“Though the label itself had to be scrapped it has been permanently soiled by images of mad-dog protesters waving don t tread on me flags its ideology is the ideology of the right in 2012.”
Again, the tea party was not “soiled” by anything its members did. This is a media creation invented with the sole purpose of destroying conservatives. It hasn’t worked.
“Should Romney lose in November, a far happier liberal scenario can be entertained: For all their qualms about stimulus spending and Obamacare, perhaps voters still prefer the party of modest government activism to the party of no government.”
If Rich thinks that Obamaism is an example of “modest government activism,” he truly is delusional. In fact, if Obama had been a moderate president, it is doubtful that any Republican could be as close to unseating him as Mitt Romney now is. Americans would have seen no reason to be rid of a nice, easy, moderate president. Look at Bill Clinton’s success a gaining a second term once his veered to the center after he lost so many Democrat seats in Congress in 1994. Americans reelected Clinton because he wasn’t radical. He was relatively safe.
“And if Romney wins? Like that other usefully anodyne front man John Boehner, he will more often than not do what he s told by the radical young guns. His main task, as Grover Norquist said in February, will be to sign the legislation that has already been prepared, starting with Ryan’s harsh budget.”
Ah, and it just had to happen that Rich fell back on one of the insider left’s favorite boogie men, Grover Norquist. The left sees Grover under every bed in Washington D.C. It is funny, really, how Mr. Norquist lives in their heads, isn’t it? On the other hand, as much work as Norquist’s done, most rank and file Republicans never heard of him. That is no blast on Grover, though. It’s just a fact that few political insiders are well known outside of wonks like you, me, and Frank Rich.
“And while polls found Obama ahead of or even with Romney in every policy category, conservative ideology in the abstract fared far better…. The conservative credo has remained fixed even when it has been dishonored by its own camp (e.g., the free-spending administration of Bush 43). By contrast, the liberal faith that once seemed immutable to Lionel Trilling has been constantly downsized and muddied since the sixties.”
Again, that’s because America is and always has been a center-right nation. Our national premise is center-right. Our civic scheme is not built of left-wing liberalism. Modern liberalism is simply not an American ideal. This is why liberalism always has an uphill battle and why conservatism can always come back to kick them in the rear end.
“The American right isn’t burdened by such Hamlet-like indecision about its own ideological rationale. It does, however, have plenty of its own problems like the female, black, and Hispanic voters it has alienated and without whom the GOP cannot win national elections.”
The GOP has never done a thing to “alienate” blacks and females. On the contrary, what has really happened is that the right has never been able to mount a defense against the lies and demagoguery of a left-wing establishment and its willing Old Media lapdogs that daily say the GOP has alienated blacks and women. It is a trope, not a truth.
“But one shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the conservative movement to adapt to new marketplace circumstances even as it holds to its bedrock beliefs. That s one reason why the right has survived past allegiances with the Ku Klux Klan, the McCarthy witch hunts, the John Birch Society, and all the rest.”
The Republican Party has never, ever been factually associated with the Ku Klux Klan. There is only one party in the United States that has a true history of close association with the KKK and that is the Democrats. They even started a civil war over the ideals that the KKK would later embody!
“McGirr suggests in Suburban Warriors, this adaptability has included such strategies as abandoning older essentialist racial ideas (as well as anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism) after World War II and even repackaging old-time religion in user-friendly megachurch trappings consistent with the therapeutic ethos and consumer culture of mainstream daytime television.”
More lies. The GOP is no more the only party of anti-Catholicism than the Democrats are the only party of civil rights. The historical fact is that the whole country was anti-Catholic for most of its history. Remember, the first Catholic to run for President was Al Smith (1928) and it was Democrats in the South and rural north that destroyed his candidacy because they feared a Papist sitting in the White House, not Republicans.
“For all its adaptability, it’s highly unlikely that the GOP can recapture the African-American voters it cast aside when it went from being the Party of Lincoln to the last refuge of white-supremacist Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond in the Goldwater era.”
Another trope. The GOP did not become “the last refuge” of “white-supremacist Dixiecrats.” In reality Strom Thurmond was the only national politician that followed the Dixiecrat banner that switched to the GOP. Every other former Dixiecrat of any note stayed in the Democrat Party until death did they part. Racists did not simply become Republicans. Racism itself ebbed away until it became but a nagging shadow, the sort that is always with humanity at some level. Essentially, racism died as a political force. It didn’t just “switch parties” as so many leftists like to pretend it did.
If you want the history of this left-wing lie, check out Ann Coulter’s newest book, “Mugged.” She has a definitive history of the Dixiecrat era.
Still, it makes leftists like Rich feel better to say these sorts of lies, but they are lies nonetheless. Notice that Rich never proves any of these statements, by the way. He just disgorges them as if they are obviously true and he moves on to the next trope-based lie.
Speaking of the next lie…
“All these years after Jim Crow, the GOP is still scheming to disenfranchise black voters.”
There is not one Republican candidate or policy that Rich can point to that actually disenfranchises anyone. None.
“Eventually, the GOP might even figure out that it s not in either its ideological or political interests to insist in perpetuity that government intrude on women s reproductive rights and thwart equal civil rights.”
Finally, the last lie I’ll bother with is this faux “Republican war on women.” It is just another calumny, really. There are no policies being proposed by any Republican anywhere that takes away any “reproductive rights” (as dishonest a euphemism if there ever was one) from America’s women. There just isn’t.
But, it is an interesting thing to note that while these Democrats decry the efforts of Republicans to perpetrate “government intrusion” on women’s reproductive rights, in reality it is they who want to do the intruding. Instead of just leaving women to their own devises to follow their own consciences on their rights, Democrats want government to impose regulations on who can do what and when, they want government to pay for women’s sex aides by stealing away tax dollars from everyone for the purpose, and they want government to keep a close watch on everyone’s “reproductive rights” to make sure it is all in order. In reality, it is Democrats that are doing the “intruding” on women’s reproductive rights, not the leave-us-alone conservatives!
This piece by Frank Rich is both gratifying and laughable at the same time. Even as he is just smart enough to barely grasp that conservatism is America’s natural state of mind, he is simply filled with so much hate, so many left-wing lies, and blinded by his own ideology so badly that he just can’t quite grasp the whole picture.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.