Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Noun, a Verb and the Tea Party

At the memorable moment of his otherwise unmemorable 2008 presidential candidacy, Joe Biden famously said that Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign pitch came down to “a noun, a verb and 9/11.” That didn’t do much for Biden’s presidential prospects but, as you can see, it brought down the house at a Democratic presidential debate:

You could be excused for saying that the current Democratic pitch on budgetary matters comes down to a noun, a verb and the Tea Party.  If Democrats had an affirmative case to make for their budgetary priorities, they wouldn’t have dispensed with budgets and appropriation bills over the last two years in favor of funding the government through continuing resolutions and secret negotiations with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling. So you’d be a little more charitable to Democrats than Biden was to Giuliani if you reduced their current budgetary message to something like this: we may be empty-headed, but the Tea Partiers now calling the shots in the Republican Party are crazy.

Granted, people like Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann are regularly quoted saying enough intemperate things to give this message the legs to power Democrats through the sprint to the next news cycle. But Jay Cost puts his finger on why it’s a lousy election pitch. The closer we get to the next election, the more the specter of Tea Party craziness will recede from view (emphasis in the original):
"Being a Tea Partier . . . suggests not a political or even social group affiliation, but a state of mind . . . The ambiguity of 95 percent of the Tea Party is what makes it an attractive target for the Democratic Party and its friends in the mainstream media. There is no leader of the Tea Party. No building where the Tea Party meets. No set of rules and regulations that enumerates the privileges and responsibilities of its members. Thus, the 'Tea Party' can be whatever the Democrats need it to be.

“However, there is a problem for Democrats with turning the Tea Party into the bogeyman. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is a fantastic movie because you do not see the shark until you’re already well into the film, but eventually you see it. If you never did, the movie would have been forgotten long ago.

“The Democrats are never going to be able to produce this terrible, villainous Tea Party for the world to behold. It will forever remain in the shadows, secretly making sure that nothing goes Obama’s way between now and Election Day. This makes for a very bad foil. There’s really no third act, no moment when Obama and the forces of light finally confront the Tea Party and its minions of darkness. Worse for the president, he does not get to square off against ‘the Tea Party’ on the ballot.”
Subtract Tea Party craziness from the current Democratic budgetary message and all you’re left with is the president's and the Democratic Party's resolute empty-headedness on budgetary matters. Leave aside for the moment the issue of what Democratic governing priorites ought to be.  Here we are, fifteen months from a pivotal election, with unemployment above 9%, facing public insolvency over the long-term, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend today, having just had our credit downgraded. And, either because they can’t or they won’t, a sitting Democratic president and a Democratically controlled Senate haven't told us what their governing priorities are.  Worse, they don't seem the least bit embarrassed about it.

Am I the only one who thinks that, when it comes to craziness, Obama and the Democrats are giving the Tea Partiers a run for their money?


Anonymous said...

I read somewhere today that if it weren't for the Tea Party, and the debt ceiling compromise, America's debt would have been downgraded to BBB instead of AA.

Obama and Biden and Kerry, et al. are going to have to tread lightly on the Tea Party. Blaming Bush worked well before, why not stick with that as a theme.

Benny said...

Joe Biden is the personification of Democratic empty-headedness. What did Rudy Giuliani ever do--besides dismantling the New York mafia as a US Atty and making NYC the safest big city in American before leading it, deftly, through the biggest crisis of its history. It's not like ever did anything as important as chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden really thinks that his 40-year career of bloviating in the Senate and being wrong about almost everything important (and bufoonishly proud of it at that)is a qualification for the presidency.

Cultkat said...

Benny is right about Biden. Only one problem, what do qualifications have to do with anything? Look who's in the white house now.