17 February 2010

Tea

I don't have much in the way of commentary, but I want to draw your attention to Jacob Sullum's post about the recent NY Times spread about the Tea Party movement.  Mostly I just like that Sullum calls author David Barstow out for making the mistake of trying to shoe-horn American politics into a one-dimensional red-blue spectrum.  Hardly new territory for a writer at Reason, I know, but that's a theme that's been on my mind recently.

I suppose the other point to make is that I feel like the more sloppy coverage of the Tea Party the media gives the more sympathy I have for them.  I don't take much time for complaining about main stream media bias because I think that's just not very interesting, and anyway leftward bias isn't really what gets me with this coverage.  It's the ham-fisted way most commentators try to cram the Tea Party into whatever narrative they're already invested in writing.

Sullum happens to point out Barstow saying in effect, "Look at this sub-group of Tea Partiers who would agree with the ACLU about things like warrantless wiretapping and violations of habeus corpus — what a paradox!  How can these right wing lunatics have such liberal views?!"  I've seen that kind of thing a lot.  It never occurs to these authors to throw out the hypothesis that these rallies are 100% right-wing instead of scratching their heads and then ignoring the inconvenient data point.

I don't have a ton of sympathy for Tea Party-types because (a) a lot of them really are cranks, and (b) I think the take-to-the-streets-with-protest-signs is an ineffectual and usually immature thing to do, and that seems to be all they've got up their sleeve.  But every time I hear Keith Olberman sneer about "teabaggers" or people like Barstow shoehorn the Tea Party into the paranoid-racist-right-wing-kook narrative I get a little more sympathetic.

Last thing I'll say about the Tea Party, just because I don't think I've posted it before, is that I find it nauseating how many GOP "leaders" are coming out of the woodwork trying to elbow their way to the front of this parade.  After the last decade of utter disregard by the Red Team for any sort of limited government — be it fiscal restraint or respect for liberty or rejection of paternalism — for these jokers to pop up and pretend to be plugged into the Tea Party is just a farce.

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