Monday, April 13, 2009


As anyone who may mistakenly have surfed across Fox News during the last few weeks already knows, the latest cause célèbre on the right is a series of "tea parties" all over the country. These protests supposedly demonstrate the populist rage aimed at the dire and oppressive tax policies of the current administration. You know, the administration that's been in office for less than a hundred days, and whose tax policies would actually help the same people who are showing up to hoist their ridiculous placards.

From the very start, something struck me as off about these protests -- something artificial. And who knew, I was right. Like with most things Republican for the past couple of decades, the usual trifecta of right wing politicos, blowhard pundits, and the same top two percenters who would be hurt by Obama tax policies are using average people as walking billboards/willing dupes. Paul Krugman elaborates: turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.
However, the takeaway from all this for the righties may not be what Rush, Newt, et al., wanted, as Andrew Sullivan, not exactly a frothy-mouthed liberal, explains:
Under this onslaught from conservative media and political outlets, it is not that surprising that Obama’s negatives among Republicans and even independents has jumped.

But this, when you come to think about it, is far more worrying for the Republicans than for Obama, if Obama maintains a centre-left course. The right’s strategy is clear: define Obama as a far-left radical, and wait. Offer nothing substantive as policy alternatives, but keep the drumbeat up. It’s a classic strategy – and it was what John McCain and Hillary Clinton tried last year.

And we all know how well that worked out for them.

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