The Spectacle Blog

Now Bob Shrum Whines About the Tea Parties

By on 4.21.09 | 12:18PM

Yet another liberal whiner has taken time out from his busy schedule destroying the Constitution and wrecking America to condescend about the recent tea party protests.

This time it's Democratic strategist Robert Shrum who for reasons only he knows, finds it necessary to beat up the Americans who protested President Obama's massive expansion of federal spending. Shrum, of course, is the cursed adviser who has helped Democrats lose the White House eight times, including John Kerry's run in 2004.

Conservatives are the real kooks Shrum argues in The Week, echoing the theme of the dubious DHS report last week that found that all conservatives, libertarians, and returning veterans are potential terrorists:

In 1964, historian Richard Hofstadter described "the paranoid style" as a periodic recurrence in American national life, characterized by "the use of paranoid modes of expressions by more or less normal people . . . heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy."

Teagate, the overhyped, underattended events of last week, closely tracks this taxonomy.

What were the protests supposedly about? Taxes and government spending. But in fact, the president's economic program has already cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans-and state and local tax increases would be far steeper without the protestors' other target, the Obama stimulus package, which provides recession-fighting funds to state and local governments.

Incoherent as a program, Teagate was relatively insubstantial as a protest. The usual suspects-from Fox News to Karl Rove-dutifully, at times desperately, hyped it as an outpouring of public dissatisfaction. A writer for the right-wing Manhattan Institute managed to see "the tidal wave of the future" in the tea leaves. But truth confounds belief. Nate Silver, the master of political statistics who predicted the 2008 election results almost precisely, compiled a crowd count from "reasonably nonpartisan and credible sources." He calculated a total of just over 300,000 protestors at hundreds of sites. [...]

Shrum, who has managed to pull out a few wins in non-presidential races, also poisons the minds of young people as a senior fellow at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

What motivates this anger among liberals, who ought to be ecstatic that they control Congress and the White House?

Byron York of the Washington Examiner wonders why so many on the left are "so apparently troubled by a virtually powerless opposition[.]"

His source, a psychiatrist, put the anger down to narcissism:

I asked William Anderson, a friend who is a political conservative, a medical doctor, and a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard. "They are angry, but I think they are also scared, and I think it's because they have a sense that their triumph is a precarious one," Anderson told me. Democrats won in 2008 in some part because of the cycles of American politics; Republicans were exhausted and it was the other party's turn. Now, having won, they are unsure of how long victory will last.

"They see that they have a very small window of opportunity to do all the things they want," Anderson continued. "They see the window of opportunity as small because they know in their deepest hearts that the vast majority of the American people wouldn't go for all of the things they want to do." So they are frantic to do as much as possible before the opposition coalesces. And the tea parties might be the beginning of that coalescence.

Then there is the question of self-image. Watching Garofalo and Olbermann discuss the tea parties, it was impossible to avoid the sense that they saw themselves as two good people talking about many bad people. "One of the things about narcissism is that it looks like people who are just proud of themselves and smug, but in fact narcissism is a very brittle and unstable state," Anderson told me. "People who are deeply invested in narcissism spend an awful lot of energy trying to maintain the illusion they have of themselves as being powerful and good, and they are exquisitely sensitive to anything that might prick that balloon."

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article