Today, Stan (The Man) Unusual advocates hugging Teabggers! No thanks, Stan. If we end up with "Senator O'Donnell," "Governor Paladino," and down the road "President Palin," we will receive our just desserts because we have become the Land O'The Free and the Home O'The Stupid. Hercules may have bodylocked Antaeus (in myth), but there aren't enough showers in the world for this blogger when it comes to body contact with any Teabagger. Eww! If this is (fair & balanced) shunning, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Antaeus And The Tea Party
By Stanley Fish
Tag Cloud of the following article
Liberal pundits and the politicians whose agendas they favor continue to misunderstand the Tea Party movement and, what is worse, fail to realize how much the disdainful tone of their criticism fuels it. This may be changing now as the ominous signs proliferate — the primary victories of Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, the likely election victory of Marco Rubio and, in recent days, the startling news that Carl Paladino and Joe DioGuardi may be closing in on supposedly shoo-ins Andrew Cuomo and Kirsten Gillibrand (I say “may be” because there are conflicting polls). And of course there is Sarah Palin, who, despite endless analyses of her personal and political shortcomings, looms larger on the national stage every day.
The usual response to each tea part victory has been to say (1) it’s a one-off aberration (2) the primary turnout was low and unrepresentative and (3) he or she could never win in the general election. This has even been the position of the Republican party regulars who have often opposed the upstarts. Mitch McConnell was visibly upset by Rand Paul’s victory. Ten days before the Delaware primary, that state’s Republican party chairman Tom Ross called O’Donnell a liar who was “unhinged from reality.” Rick Lazio and Rudy Giuliani have declined to endorse Paladino, who is known as “crazy Carl” (an epithet he cheerfully embraces). Karl Rove has expressed alarm at the emergence of candidates who “did not evince the characteristics of rectitude, truthfulness and sincerity, and character.”
These developments have led Time magazine to conclude (in its September 27 cover story) that we are seeing a “shaking up [of] the Republican party,” and columnist Mark Halperin follows suit in the same issue when he says that the Tea Party success “spells danger for [the Republican party’s] long term future.”
But this, I think, is the wrong conclusion and shows how far progressives will go to avoid looking directly at a phenomenon they have trouble believing in. It would be more accurate to say that the Republican party now sees where its future lies, and it will cozy up to the new kids on the block (as it has already done in the case of O’Donnell) and ride their coattails to a victory even larger than the one they have been looking forward to.
And the Democrats will be helping them by saying scathing and dismissive things about the Tea Party and its candidates. The Greek mythological figure Antaeus won victory after victory because his opponents repeatedly threw him to the ground, not realizing that it was the earth (in the figure of his mother, Gaia) that nourished him and gave him renewed strength. The Tea Party’s strength comes from the down-to-earth rhetoric it responds to and proclaims, and whenever high-brow critics heap the dirt of scorn and derision upon the party, its powers increase.
Commentators who explain smugly that O’Donnell’s position on masturbation (that it is a selfish, solitary act) is contradicted by her Ayn Rand-like attack on collectivism, or who wax self-righteous about Paladino’s comparing Sheldon Silver to Hitler and promising to wield a baseball bat in Albany, or who laugh at Sharron Angle for being in favor of Scientology (she denies it) and against fluoridation and the Department of Education, are doing these candidates a huge favor. They are saying, in effect, these people are stupid, they’re jokes; and the implication (sometimes explicitly stated) is that anyone who takes them the least bit seriously doesn’t get the joke and is stupid, too.
We the people hear this and know who is being talked about, and react with anger: “Don’t presume to tell me what to think and whom to vote for just because you have more degrees than I do. I don’t know much about these people but if you guys are against them, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
And if they don’t exactly say that, the recently unveiled “Pledge to America” says it for them in its money quote: “An arrogant out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites make decisions, issue mandates, and enact laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.” The many grow and become more robust every time a self-satisfied voice from the political or media establishment dumps on their spokespersons. Mayor Bloomberg may be right when he says (in explaining his endorsement of Cuomo over Paladino) that “anger is not a governing strategy,” but it sure is a campaign strategy and it is one the Tea Party and the Republicans it has tutored know how to execute.
What to do? It is easier, of course, to say what not to do, and what not to do is what Democrats and their allies are prone to do — poke gleeful fun at the lesser mortals who say and believe strange things and betray an ignorance of history.
That won’t work. Better, perhaps, to take a cue from Hercules, who figured out the source of Antaeus’s strength and defeated him by embracing him in a bear hug, lifting him up high, and preventing him from touching the ground. Don’t sling mud down in the dust where your opponents thrive. Instead, engage them as if you thought that the concerns they express (if not their forms of expression) are worthy of serious consideration, as indeed they are. Lift them up to the level of reasons and evidence and see how they fare in the rarified air of rational debate where they just might suffer the fate of Antaeus.
It’s at least worth a try, because the way things are going we may soon be looking at Senator O’Donnell, Governor Paladino and, down the road a bit, President Palin. Ω
[Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami, and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Fish also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University. Fish received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the author of 10 books, most recently Save the World on Your Own Time (2008).]
Copyright © 2010 The New York Times Company
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Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at sapper.blogspot.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.
Copyright © 2010 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves