Hold Fast

A Blog by Matt Browner Hamlin

Hold Fast - a blog by Matt Browner Hamlin

Taibbi on the Marginalizing of the Republican Base

November 24th, 2009 · No Comments

Matt Taibbi, writing at True/Slant, has a must-read analysis of the mainstream media Village culture, as it pertains to Sarah Palin. Or, more specifically, how groupthink by Beltway journalists regarding when to promote a politician and when to aim for their head has coalesced behind further marginalizing Palin and by extension her Teabag supporters.

While Taibbi does provide a stinging and pointed analysis of how Beltway Conventional Wisdom is made in the journalist clubhouse, he really shines through in his take on what this means for the Tea Party “movement.”

What the people who are flipping out about the treatment of Palin should be asking themselves is what it means when it’s not just jerks like us but everybody piling on against Palin. For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”

And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.

What’s different now is who else is saying it. You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny.

I certainly agree with Taibbi that there is a delightfully comic side to the shift to discredit the rabid Republican base as…rabid.  Of course I think he sells his understanding of the situation a bit short. Just because the analysis by Beltway journalists on the danger posed by the anti-war left to Democratic electoral hopes was fundamentally wrong (and conclusively proven so in 2006 and 2008) doesn’t mean that the analysis of Teabaggers as a group who can cost the Republican Party elections is wrong. Take NY-23 — a seat that Democrats hadn’t won since Reconstruction was won by a conservative Democrat after an independent Teabagger candidate forced the GOP nominee out of the race. Teabaggers cost the GOP that seat. While one race is by no means determinative of a political movement, this is certainly not a time to sell your Teabagger stock.

As it relates to Palin, she has thrown herself into the Teabagger mix with all her energy. She came out strongly for Hoffman in NY-23 and is building a brand running in support of these radical rightwing candidates. When she put herself all-in on NY-23, she also took on some of the consequences from that loss. The most notable one, obviously, being that Teabaggers didn’t win.

It’s also important to note that Taibbi isn’t saying that Democrats or liberal pundits shouldn’t help push the Beltway journalist stone down hill onto the Teabaggers. There is real value in this group being marginalized as a decisive voice in American politics. It was the influence of the Republican base that helped win George W. Bush and Dick Cheney two terms in office, along with quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, a massive recession, and an assault on the US Constitution and Bill of Rights unseen in the last two hundred years of American history. If any group deserves to have their influence marginalized in American politics, it is the base of the Republican Party (well, them and the Beltway journalistic set).

Watching this cohort of angry Americans fail at political success, while being treated for what they are by the establishment press, is satisfying on many levels. Sure, part of this is schadenfreude, but a good portion of it is watching the politically privileged group in American politics other than the super rich live life like the rest of us DFHs for the first time. The result is one of the leaders of their political movement, Sarah Palin, turning offense into a cottage industry and the other, Glenn Beck, making on camera tears book-ended by conspiracy theories of persecution into the path to gold advertising glory. As Taibbi said, it’s funny stuff.

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Tags: Sarah Palin · The Media