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Arnold Palmers

July 8, 2010

Have I mentioned Continetti and Beck and Jonah yet?  Guess not.  Matthew Continetti wrote a piece about the two faces of the Tea Party in The Weekly Standard in which he differentiated Tea Partiers into Rick Santelli people and Glenn Beck people.  He had some disparaging things to say about Beck, most of which were in the context of real-world application of Tea Party ideals, i.e. prophesying impending doom is a lot less useful than actually supporting good policy. (One of Beck’s producers responded to the piece with a post that played the “your piece is poorly researched” card without referencing anything that’s poorly researched, the “it’s a hit job” card even though it’s not, and the “we’re a lot more popular than you card”.  Stay classy, bro — you realize most New York Times columnists are more popular than you, right?)  Ross Douthat, in the course of responding to Jonah Golberg’s response to Continetti, elaborates with real-people examples:

Moreover, once you start applying the frame to real-world figures, it’s pretty easy to see what Continetti’s talking about. Nikki Haley and Scott Brown are both Santellians, for instance (even though Haley is more right-wing than Brown), because they’re forward-looking and positive rather than conspiratorial and apocalyptic. Rick “Gather Your Armies” Barber, on the other hand, is a Beckian. So is Michelle Bachmann, at least when she’s fretting about Barack Obama’s sinister plans to create a “global economy.” When Tea Party darling Marco Rubio talks about the need to reform Social Security, he’s being Santellian. When Tea Party darling Sharron Angle talks about how Social Security and Medicare “can’t be fixed,” that’s Beckian. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap is Santellian. Rand Paul’s critique of the Civil Rights Act is Beckian. And so on and so forth.

One of those lines of rhetoric is, you know, relevant, and the other is not.  The conclusion:

But Continetti’s ultimately right that any such rethinking needs to circle back to the realities of contemporary politics, and the challenges of actual-existing policy issues, rather than indulging in manichaean fantasies about a final battle between virtuous liberty-lovers and wicked statists. What’s more, he’s right to suggest that certain ways of rethinking American politics are simply toxic and self-discrediting and ought to be labeled as such, no matter how many copies of “The Road to Serfdom” they inspire people to buy.

Agreed on all counts.  Political realities are important — I really can’t stress that enough.

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