Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tea Party Conservatives vs. Dinner Party Conservatives
Forget the "liberalterian" or "moderates vs. conservatives" manamana being bantered about recently. What we have today is a scism, and it's between the Tea Party Conservatives and Dinner Party Conservatives.
Tea Party Conservatives look at the ongoing spending orgy in Washington and say, "This is nuts. You guys couldn't run a lemonade stand, and you're telling us you need trillions of dollars more to save the economy? Hell, you wrecked it in the first place!" The Tea Party crowd isn't interested in bailing out failures, no matter how well-connected those failures might be.
The Dinner Party Conservatives, hailing mostly from Manhattan and Georgetown, made it clear during the last election that they'd had enough. Eight years of being beaten down by their New Class peers over malapropisms and "Bush is so stupid" jokes have driven them to capitulation. It was the social equivalent of Gletkin keeping Rubashov awake for weeks in "Darkness At Noon;" the Dinner Party crowd just didn't have the stamina to take any more. The noisy rubes from Beyond must be cast out in the name of fewer unpleasant exchanges during the cocktail hour.
The most recent splash from the Dinner Party crowd comes from David Frum, who appears well on his way to becoming the Kevin Phillips of his generation. Frum's nasty jeremiad against decidedly-Tea-Party Rush Limbaugh fit so well into the media blitz being pushed out of the White House by Clinton slime masters James Carville and Paul Begala that Frum was granted not just multiple column-inches, but also the cover of the official weekly of the Obama Administration, Newsweek. Frum is already basking in his own bath of what he once called Strange New Respect, and undoubtably he'll receive plenty of smug adulation at his next few Georgetown dinner parties.
Frum has always loved the idea of playing Cassandra; his last big splash came from the polemic "Dead Right" in 1994, with similar arguments for shutting out the conservative base of the GOP in favor of elite opinion. As noted previously, this particular call to disarm was delightfully thrown on history's ash heap less than three months after its publication, when the Tea Party Conservatives of that age overthrew a four-decades-entrenched Democratic majority in Congress. Not much of anybody credited "Dead Right" as being a catalyst for the Republican Revolution--but one Rush H. Limbaugh, III, a Missouri junior-college dropout and former D.J., was widely touted at the time as "the majority maker." It wouldn't surprise me one bit if that still sticks in the craw of the Yale-and-Harvard-approved Frum.
David Brooks, a Dinner Party potentate even before he reached the lofty summit of the New York Times, can't even manage to be consistent for two columns in a row. Last Tuesday, Brooks tentatively paused in his extended series of Obama tongue-baths to suddenly discover what The Messiah has always been--a hard-left machine pol dedicated to using the public purse as a means of enhancing his party's grip on power. That revelation passed quickly; 48 hours later, an administration-spun Brooks had backed off into merely urging "Senate moderates" to "help shape a budget that allays their anxieties while meeting the president’s goals."
Apparently chastised, Brooks got back on-message this week and set to hectoring the Republicans in Congress (who after all, didn't really go to the best schools or anything) against "know nothing" opposition to The One. During a Sunday appearance with Rahm Emmanuel's conference call BFF George Stephanopolis, Brooks declared, ""There are a lot of Republicans up on Capitol Hill right now who are calling for a spending freeze in the middle of a recession/depression. That is insane."
Um, David. Did you somehow miss the extra trillion dollars of spending (counting interest) that was signed into law last month? Is your memory really that short, or can you not bring yourself to admit that the hicks from the sticks might just have a point? As pointed out by David Freddoso, the congressional Republicans were actually talking about cutting $17 billion in unadulterated pork from the 2009 budget. Is there any limit to government borrow-print-tax-and-spend that would meet with your enlightened approval?
The problem for Brooks and company is, the message of the Tea Party Conservatives is resonating, and that drives the Dinner Party commentariat nuts.
I'm not the world's biggest fan of John Boehner, but I'm happy to give him and the current minority leadership their due on this one: they are listening. Unlike Frum and Brooks (who a few weeks ago wrote, "Individual responsibility doesn't matter much in an economy like this"), they've heard the chord out here in the country that rings out, "Not with my money, buster." If there were ever a time to be standing athwart the spending leviathan, this is that time.
The "spend as fast as you can" crowd is too wrapped up in a combination of fear and over-reliance on their own brillance to see what they're really selling: inflation and massive tax increases. The more bailouts, giveaways and pork that get rolled out of Washington today, the worse things are going to be in the next decade. This very economic crisis was engendered by over-borrowing, and we're not going to get out of it by borrowing still-more trillions to be shuffled off into vote-buying governmental flatulence.
The Dinner Party Conservatives held sway during the election, doing their part to drown out opposition to The One. Now that the emperor is in place and allegedly clothed, the day of the Tea Party Conservatives has arrived, and their voices are getting louder by the dollar.
So tuck into that arugula while you can, boys. While you're reaching for the finger bowl, the rest of us are headed down to the harbor.