In old Westerns, the good guys would often find themselves beset by enemies and nearly out of ammunition. Just when all seemed lost, a bugle would sound and the cavalry would ride to the rescue.
Liberals think their situation is much the same. Those evil tea partiers have them surrounded with just six weeks left until the election. Democrats and the media are hoping life imitates art. If not, the entire leftward tilt of the nation could be in jeopardy. So they called for the cavalry – everyone from former presidents to talking heads to churchgoers.
At the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner Obama said he needed “soldiers” for the fight ahead. “I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to churches and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops, and tell them we’ve got more work to do,” Obama told the crowd. The New York Times said Team Obama was “considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists,” but the White House called that “totally wrong.” Not that anyone believed them.
Obama’s real soldiers have responded as expected. The media, always eager to combat conservatives of any stripe, descended on Obama’s enemies like a regiment at full gallop. They attacked each with gusto. Even Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz noted “the slightly mocking tone” journalists were using for tea party candidates.
Supposedly neutral journalists reserved the worst attacks for the newest conservative darling – Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell. From stories on masturbation and witchcraft, the news media have made a mockery of that race alone. CNN’s John Avlon called her the “new queen of the wingnuts.” But why stop in tiny Delaware?
CBS curmudgeon and one-time newsman Bob Schieffer predicted the tea partiers would lose just like Barry Goldwater-led conservatives did in 1964 because they were “far to the right of most of the people in his party, and they lost in a landslide.” ABC’s new biased host of “This Week,” Christiane Amanpour, asked if the Tea Party was “a fad,” and Daily Beast political writer and journalism professor Peter Beinart saw tea party doom just a few years later than Schieffer. “The Tea Party is now the Republican Party. I mean I think what we're seeing in the Republican Party is something akin to what happened to the Democratic Party between 1968 and 1972 in which the forces of George McGovern took over the Democratic Party, overthrew the Democratic Party establishment and moved it substantially to the left.” That’s not analysis, it’s wishful thinking.
The left was aided by old soldiers, too. One-time presidential embarrassment-turned-elder-statesman Bill Clinton was careful not to bash tea partiers directly. Instead, he went for their funding – a not-so-subtle attack on the left’s new bogeymen – conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch and their Koch Foundation. In Clinton’s world, “the financial energy behind the tea party movement” is “about destroying the role of government in our life so that private centers of power will be untrammeled, and I don’t think that’s good for average Americans.” More of the typical lefty world view that ordinary Americans who vote conservative vote against their self interest.
Obama’s other presidential reinforcements came from the failed leadership of Jimmy Carter. The disaster of a president was pushing his new book, “White House Diary,” on the “Today” show, but took a swipe at the tea parties as well. Carter downplayed the long-term potential for the groups saying they would “be a transient thing.” The one-termer added that he thought the tea parties would be absorbed into the GOP and hoped their influence would “be dissipated.” Even New York Mayor for Life Michael Bloomberg went on the attack, “trying to pull politics back to the middle, injecting himself into marquee contests and helping candidates fend off the tea party,” according to The New York Times.
But there was more to the latest charge against the tea parties. When Obama calls for the Democratic base to help, the top constituencies respond aggressively. Unions were among the first into battle. “[T]he AFL-CIO sent out 2.5 million pieces of campaign mail on Monday targeting Republicans in roughly 50 congressional and gubernatorial races,” according to HuffingtonPost.
Even Obama is smart enough to try to go into battle with God on his side. So Sunday, the Obamas walked to church with both children in tow. The Associated Press reported that “Obama strolled across Lafayette Square to attend St. John's Church” – only the fourth time he had done so. To add to his lack of credibility on the issue of faith, in a recent speech the president had cut the words “by their creator” when quoting from the inalienable rights endowed to us phrase in the Declaration of Independence. Visiting church after deleting the divine doesn’t add to Obama’s waning credibility.
Like most fights, this one comes down to timing. Whole military campaigns can be fought in six weeks, so all is not lost for the left – yet. But the media are deceiving Democrats into believing the cavalry is coming to rescue them.
The cavalry is already here and it’s on the other side. The people who are motivated to risk it all and fight for their nation are fighting with the American flag in one hand and the tea party banner in the other. If there is any hope to restore principle in politics for 2010 and beyond, it lies with the tea parties.