Quote of the Day: the Tea Party, Criticism of Republicans and the “Party Line”
Our political Quote of the Day comes from Michael Gerson, who served as former President George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 until June 2006, as a senior policy advisor from 2000 through June 2006, and was a member of the White House Iraq Group. He has a column on the Washington Post detailing how some conservatives went after Karl Rove for his daring to criticize Delaware’s new GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. Here’s the key chunk of it — which is worth discussing a bit here:
While Rove’s critique was tough, the reaction in parts of the conservative blogosphere has been unhinged. Michelle Malkin wrote that it “might as well have been Olbermann on MSNBC.” Mark Levin pronounced Rove at “war against the Tea Party movement and conservatives.” “In terms of the conservative movement,” wrote Dan Riehl, “we should not simply ignore him, but proactively work to undermine Rove in whatever ways we can, given his obvious willingness to undermine us.”
Readers to TMV will know that we often note how in today’s politics it is seek and destroy those who dare to think differently. The difference now: Rove, long idolized by so many Republicans, is now under fire. They have all but suggested he was a (get ready for the dreaded word) RINO.
Gerson says this reaction is “revealing — and disturbing” for several reasons:
First, it shows how some conservatives view the business of political commentary. Rove obviously has strong views on O’Donnell, based on personal experience with the candidate. But deviations from the party line are not permitted. It is not enough to dispute Rove’s critique; Rove himself must be punished. The message is clear: The facts do not matter. Politics is war carried on by other means. Anyone who doesn’t consistently take one side is a traitor.
Indeed: anyone who watched Rove make his comments before the country’s one of the country’s blatant partisans an ideologues, Sean Hannity, could see Hannity’s head almost pop off. Rush Limbaugh’s seemingly did the next day…and Rove quickly backtracked to political party PC.
This attitude can be found on right and left. But a serious commentator cannot think this way. He owes his readers or viewers his best judgment — which means he cannot simply be a tool of someone else’s ideological agenda. Some conservatives have adopted the Bolshevik approach to information and the media: Every personal feeling, every independent thought, every inconvenient fact, must be subordinated to the party line — the Tea Party line.
Second, the ferocity of this criticism indicates a growing arrogance. Tea Party purists, on the Internet and elsewhere, clearly believe their ascendance makes other elements of the conservative movement unnecessary. But victory in a Republican primary electorate of 60,000 is Delaware does not make the Tea Party movement predominant in the Republican Party, or even in the conservative movement. If Tea Party activists believe they can win in a political coalition so pure that it doesn’t include strong, mainstream conservatives such as Karl Rove, they are delusional. And they are hurting their own cause.
The operative word here is COALITION. Tea Party members seem more interested in a purist movement than any kind of coalition.
Third, some conservatives seem to display special venom for those who are “compromised” by the experience of actually winning and governing. Rove, according to Malkin, is an “establishment Beltway strategist.” Actually, he is a former high-level policy aid to the president of the United States and the primary author of two presidential victories. This does not make him always right. But it means he has had responsibilities bigger than running a Web site. This is an advantage for a commentator, not a drawback.
But what does it matter?
Michael: if Rush doesn’t think it’s so then it isn’t so.
Just ask Karl Rove.