Monday, January 11, 2010

In Defense of Tea Parties

David Brooks is not alone in his disdain: On right and left, “educated” people have given vent to their contempt for the Tea Party crowd, leading me to conclude that there must, surely, be considerable significance in a movement that has had scorn poured on it by such varied names as David Frum, who is also, like Brooks, a friend of mine; Michael Goldfarb, a former spokesman for the McCain presidential campaign; Paul Krugman; Chris Matthews; and Keith Olbermann. (For a full account of the media’s ill treatment of the movement, read A New American Tea Party, by John M. O’Hara.) Many people, one might conclude, are afraid of the Tea Party movement: On the left, they are afraid that it will initiate a tidal wave that causes the loss of numerous House seats. On the right, the fear is that it will mount its own candidates and simply be a spoiler. This fear would explain the sneering toward the Tea Partiers, the smugness with which they are looked down upon. What bothers me, however, is that although ideological differences are at the bottom of the Tea Party assaults, the critique is almost purely aesthetic: The Tea Partiers, it is said, are crude, sloganeering, lemming-like, heartland Bible-Beltists who don’t understand policy or David Brooks’ more

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