The political elites, having finally concluded that the Tea Party isn’t just going away, are trying to grasp its real significance. Some, like heavyweight National Journal reporter Jonathan Rauch, are curious. Some, like Rolling Stone’s Hunter Thompson wannabe, Matt Taibbi, are furious. Curious or furious, the political class finally is beginning to focus on the Tea Party movement in greater depth than cable TV actualities.
The most discerning presentation of it probably is that of the National Journal’s Jonathan Rauch (a friend of this writer):
[Mark] Meckler, the closest thing the movement has to an organizational visionary, meant what he said. No one gives orders: In the expansive dominion of the Tea Party Patriots, which extends to thousands of local groups and literally countless activists, people just do stuff, talk to each other, imitate success, and move the movement.
The most clueless presentation of the Tea Party movement just might be Matt Taibbi’s, in which he jumped the shark and described us Tea Partiers as “an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers.”
That said, let’s throw them all (and perhaps you) a lifeline. Maybe it is time for one Tea Party Patriot, this writer, to explain what really is going on in terms that are simple enough even for a member of the Ruling Class to grasp. (Some of you, anyway.) Despite our very considerable pretensions, politics is a pulp medium and best explained with reference to … another pulp medium.
For most of our political lifetime, the right, and the GOP, which overlap with a lot of tension, has been confronted by a wily, elusive, irritating, somewhat maniacal but, that said, not evil and mostly likeable adversary: the progressives and the Democratic Party.
So, members of the Ruling Class, let us clue you in. What is happening in the [insert ominous organ spike here] National Geopolitical Oblate Spheroid is best understood by picturing the Democrats not as their iconic (Thanks, Thomas Nast!) jackass, but as… Bugs Bunny.
With his Flatbush accent, this extremely mischievous but rarely malicious character taunts his adversaries and usually ends up winning. (Just check out the size of the federal budget!)
The GOP, since the Reagan era, having drifted from its elephantine symbol, somehow has managed to come to embody the persona of … hapless Elmer Fudd.
As Wikipedia notes, “His aim is to hunt Bugs, but he usually ends up seriously injuring himself” and antagonizing other characters. And just before Bugs outwits him, he often can be seen, thinking himself very clever, tiptoeing forward and saying “Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.” And then? Whammo, his gun backfires, making him look vewwy vewwy foolish — much as happened with Steve Schmidt’s refusal to let John McCain campaign on very popular social issues!
So? Tea Party time! Try thinking of us as Yosemite Sam. Wikipedia again: “an extremely grouchy gun-slinging prospector or cowboy with a hair-trigger temper and an intense hatred of rabbits, particularly Bugs Bunny.”
“Sam is significantly tougher and more aggressive than Elmer Fudd when challenging Bugs Bunny. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes, and never falls for the same ploy twice.”
Well, scholars of the Warner Bros. oeuvre may point out that Sam’s track record at corralling Bugs may be less undignified than Elmer’s but is not notably more successful. To this we can only say…
It’s a metaphor stupid. We shoot a lot straighter than old Sam. Stay tuned.
That’s all, folks.
Ralph Benko, a member of the Tea Party Patriots, is the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, www.thewebstersdictionary.com, and an advisor to The American Principles Project www.theamericanprinciplesproject.org.