Anti-Tea Party Campaign: Demagoguery or Not?
From the Department of Agitprop!
1:22 PM, Sep 23, 2010 • By JAY COST
Recently, I strongly criticized the Obama administration for considering a political ad campaign against the Tea Partiers, suggesting that it was demagogic. They didn’t like that over at the New Republic! Jonathan Chait agreed with my basic take on the midterm dynamic, but said my characterization of the proposed ad campaign was “beyond absurd.” Wow! Not to be outdone, Ed Kilgore claims to be “frankly offen(ded)” and accuses me of pushing "agitprop" (ummm…spit take?!).
He then proceeds to pummel the living daylights out of a strawman:
I have no problems with the Democratic party asking “voters to compare their policies to those of the alternate party.” That’s often referred to as a campaign, and as the former author of the Horse Race Blog, I have no troubles with campaigns. If it weren't for campaigns, I'd be at some fourth-tier political science department writing boring essays about the correspondence between Karl Popper and F.A. Hayek for The Quarterly Journal of Scholarly Tedium!
This is not a straightforward contrast campaign, wherein the Obama White House draws tough distinctions with Republican candidates for office. Instead, it’s a two-prong effort: tar the Tea Partiers as dangerous extremists, then argue that your seemingly sensible local Republican candidate is actually the pawn of these nefarious anti-coffee schemers, though s/he will never admit it.
Here’s the definition of “demagogue” from Merriam Webster:
I think it is a patently false claim to assert that the Tea Party is “dangerous.” As for the charge of extremism, it’s a typical epithet thrown about by both sides, including Kilgore in the above-cited article. I find that to be a really tiresome rhetorical strategy. Memo to all and sundry: pointing out a few examples of bad behavior on both sides is proof of nothing, just like the plural of anecdote is not data.