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.


  1. That DPC rat T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII will get what's coming to him as well, tut tut.

  2. Petition Obama to read "Economics for Dummies". We are sending copies to both Obama and Geithner.

    It's shorter than the stimulus bill, so they shouldn't have a problem.

  3. You should make sure you put a return address on that missive there AdAgentPro.

    It's coming back at you.

  4. You should also contrast "Tea Party" Conservatives with "Culture War" Conservatives. There is considerable overlap - but they are not identical.

    "Tea Party" Conservatism is Big Tent Conservatism.

  5. This is also why they hate Sarah Palin.

  6. I think the branding problem is that "Dinner Party Conservatives" are not conservatives. They're flying under false colors. They are the people who the media folks look to for "another voice" after they let the liberals express their opinions. There are plenty of "other voices" that aren't conservative.

    I like to structure this as Republicans versus Conservatives. These folks may be in a tacit alliance with the Republican party, or in a tacit opposition to the Democrat party, but they aren't conservatives.

    The best way to distinguish one of these wizards of smart from their lefty alternates is whether they thrust their knives into Sarah Palin's back versus her front.

  7. Well said, Will. As one of the hicks from flyover country, I am championing the 10th Amendment resolution in my state. Maybe then the idiots in DC, all 537 of them, will get the idea.

    I aim to misbehave.

  8. I don't think our elected representatives with an "(R)" after their name realize how really angry and disgusted their "tea Party" constituents really are. Where are the Republicans with cojones that will stand up and fight for fiscal conservatism. You might lose the fight, but at least we were there fighting for what we believe in. I am thoroughly fed up with Republicans who profess to be conservative and then cave when it comes to standing up against outrageous spending bills that won't accomplish the objectives they are represented to accomplish and will result in a high cost to Americans for a decade or more.

  9. We have been dealing with phony conservatives for too long. It is time we get back to true conservatism before this country is done. It is time to also let the liberals know that true compassion comes from true conservatism not left wing, right wing, democrat and republican labels.Let us not forget, Democrat and Republican are just words and somewhat misleading tags. Why does Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snow have (R) by their name? Are they conservatives?

  10. The Tea Parties are a mildly encouraging sign, but they are a long way from the original, which was illegal destruction of property and civil disobedience. These modern Tea Parties represent our modern attitudes. Participants are irritated and annoyed at the government, but they are not yet angry enough to put anything on the line. I am afraid that degree of independence, anger and righteousness are no longer a part of the American spirit.... These demonstrations are amusing, but they mean nothing. It will mean something when several hundred thousand people show up one morning to surround and shut down the Senate and House on the grounds that the current occupants have violated their pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

    If that day ever comes, I will be there.

    Clay Ramsay
    Charlottesville, VA..