I’m not usually a political junkie. I have my opinions, sure, and I share them on occasion. But I don’t subscribe to any of the normal newsweeklies (I read World Magazine, and generally several months after the issue comes out). I occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh, but only if I happen to be in the car when he’s on, and even then only if I can’t get some news somewhere. I rarely read the editorials in the Sunday paper, and I couldn’t tell you which district I vote in.
An editorial caught my eye, though. In the New York Times, Frank Rich wrote about what he calls The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party. I didn’t know there was such an animal, so I wanted to read more. I wasn’t disappointed.
Amid using such neutral terms as “bloviators” and “flacks”, Mr. Rich determined that two of these nominal bankrollers gave out two hundred million across ten years – and they gave “much of it to conservative causes and institutions”. Shock! Horror!! The very idea that somebody who has earned themselves a bunch of money might do with it as they please – the nerve.
The editorial attempts to paint these people with a very broad brush. One of them ran for VP on the Libertarian ticket back in 1980, and had the gall to want to abolish welfare and public schools. News for you, Mr. Rich: that’s something most Libertarians want, regardless of whether they are running for office, or what year it is. In fact, some non-Libertarians want that.
There’s more: this billionaire-backed Tea Party has so influenced the GOP that there are calls for a “freeze in federal regulations”. He comes up with outrage, but I’m starting to like this Tea Party thing.
He ends his editorial in some sort of code. The final two paragraphs:
When wolves of Murdoch’s ingenuity and the Kochs’ stealth have been at the door of our democracy in the past, Democrats have fought back fiercely. Franklin Roosevelt’s triumphant 1936 re-election campaign pummeled the Liberty League as a Republican ally eager to “squeeze the worker dry in his old age and cast him like an orange rind into the refuse pail.” When John Kennedy’s patriotism was assailed by Birchers calling for impeachment, he gave a major speech denouncing their “crusades of suspicion.”
And Obama? So far, sadly, this question answers itself.
Murdoch is the guy behind Fox News, who is painted as providing “free promotion 24/7” to the Tea Party. The Tea Party apparently started in January of 2009. And Fox News has been the #1 rated cable news channel for a hundred months (as of April), stretching back to January 2002 – a full seven years before the Tea Party started. Apparently Fox News is fickle, and dropped some cause early last year to focus full-time on the Tea Party. Sad that Mr. Rich sees a conspiracy seven years in the making. He did make a reference in the editorial about the “Invisible Hands” that are controlling our country. You can find that in the fifth paragraph, just above where he describes the Tea party as a juggernaut and mocks the people who call the president a socialist.
I guess his closing line is an attempt to encourage Mr. Obama to make a speech denouncing the Tea Party and their billionaire backers. This would be the same Mr. Obama overseeing the two hundred billion dollar bailout (unless you want to believe the number that’s almost two trillion dollars!). Maybe he’s following Mark Twain’s adage:
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.