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Anti-Tea Party Campaign: Demagoguery or Not?

From the Department of Agitprop!

1:22 PM, Sep 23, 2010 • By JAY COST
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Liberals aren’t extremists; they’re just liberals!  Conservatives aren’t extremists; they’re just conservatives!  Similarly, the Tea Partiers are perfectly within the mainstream of American political thought, so is the New Republic.  The two are just on opposite sides of a very broad spectrum of perfectly respectable political ideologies – so when they look at each other without proper perspective on where they stand in the body politic, the other appears extreme.  Call it political parallax.  Nevertheless, Americans have been having the same basic political argument since about 1896, so for goodness sake can we stop accusing each other of extremism?

So, I think both claims about the Tea Partiers are false.  As such claims would be made to rally a totally dispirited Democratic base to retain the party’s hold on power, I stand by my characterization that an ad campaign as laid out in that New York Times article would be demagogic.

Of course, demagoguery has long been well within the mainstream of American political discourse.  I don’t really have much of a problem with it per se – my Hobbesian view of what counts as “fair play” in American political campaigns is a lot broader than most people’s.   

My beef is what it has long been for a long while: President Obama promised to do one thing, but time and again he has done the other.  As his campaign for the presidency was predicated entirely upon promises such as these - rather than executive experience or legislative success in the Senate - it aggravates me a great deal that he didn't even try to do what he promised.  The alternative theory - that he tried but he couldn't get the votes of conservative nutjobs like George Voinovich, Bob Corker, and Orrin Hatch - is just absurd to me.  He came into the White House with a West Wing team stocked full of partisan brawlers, and he picked a fight almost as soon as he got in the door.  

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