We're seeing an unmistakable shift in American politics, says New York Times columnist David Brooks — and not from left to right. Americans are increasingly turning on the "educated class" that Obama represents and embracing the "fractious," isolationist, anti-intellectual Tea Party movement. According to Brooks, the Tea Partiers — like 1960s hippies or the Religious Right — are the "passionate outsiders" who will "force themselves into the center of American life" and potentially "shape this coming decade." Are we at the cusp of Tea Party rule, or is Brooks misreading the tea leaves? (Watch Michael Steele say Republicans should "embrace" the Tea Party)
The Tea Party's rise is not about anti-intellectualism: The country's not rejecting Obama because he’s an "intellekshual but because he’s a leftist," says Allahpundit in Hot Air. "Permit me to suggest that the rise of isolationism is due not to a mindless 'whatever they're fer, we’re agin’!' reaction to eggheads, but rather to the emotional and financial depletion caused by two long wars." And don't forget that it’s the right that’s providing the chief support for Obama's efforts in Afghanistan. "So much for knee-jerk opposition to the educated class."
"David Brooks: What do these tea-party wingnuts have against the educated class?"
The Tea Party is surging, but it needs a real leader: "There is a fine line between movement and mob," says Jon Henke in The Next Right, and it's not clear which side the Tea Partiers fall on yet. As "a decentralized, spontaneous, grassroots," their passion is real and powerful, but without "viable policies and strategies….and leadership to move them forward," the party may amount to outrage without progress. If they can organize into a real movement, Democrats are in trouble.
"The Tea Party challenge"
The Tea Party already has a leader—Sarah Palin: When Brooks comments on the Tea Party's “mediocre” leadership, says Jennifer Rubin in Commentary, "he seems unaware of an extremely dynamic figure who has embraced the…movement and they, her." Millions of Tea Partiers turned out to have Sarah Palin sign her book; more than a million follow her on Facebook, "which enables her to entirely bypass the mainstream media. She took up the issue of health-care rationing and made “death panels” the most widely understood objection to ObamaCare." Elites may not care for her, but "that’s just fine with the Tea Party troops."
"Meet the Tea Party movement"
In all important matters, the Tea Party is a flop: The NYT's Brooks, like so many, is "hyping" this conservative movement, says Bill Scher in The Huffington Post. "But the real story of the conservative movement in 2009 is that it has been a colossal failure where it counts: effecting policy."
"Newsflash: Teabaggers Are a Bust and Most People Haven't Heard of Glenn Beck"
The Tea Party will flourish...in the short term: Brooks is "misreading media attention for underlying trends in the body politic," says Robert Stein in Connecting the Dots. The Tea Party "movement" is just "easy shorthand for the deep anxiety roiling Americans" over the economy and wars. They'll make gains, but "Tea Party noisemakers will soon come up against the reality that, after dumping cargo in Boston harbor, the Founding Fathers had to envision and build a nation."
"Misreading tea leaves"
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF THE TEA PARTY:
• Is the Tea Party unbeatable?
• Tea Party vs. GOP: Who's the fringe group now?
• Tea Party backlash in N.Y.
• Video: Tea party protesters at town halls
• Video: How strong can the Tea Party get?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
Subscribe to the Week