The Tea Party vs. the Pundits—a Confusion of Ends

| October 16 2013
David Leeper

The political punditocracy, both Left and Right, is heaping piles of abuse on Ted Cruz and the Tea Party Movement for having pursued a “doomed strategy” to get Obamacare defunded, thereby damaging GOP approval ratings. Karl Rove whines that a whole news cycle has been wasted. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

The Leftist pundits are fairly gleeful over the results, and those on the Right are gloating over their predictions-come-true. In particular, the elitist Charles Krauthammer has featured the “I told you so” theme in multiple Fox News Special Report commentaries.**

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, in various forms:

Man’s oldest problem is his perfection of means and his confusion of ends.

Implicit in every one of the commentaries, whether exultant or vindictive, is an implicit confusion of ends. The pundits seem to assume that the Tea Party was trying to steer the party toward a news-cycle victory. After all, in the minds of Beltway media pundits, what else is there? Therefore, they argue, the negative results from the absurdly biased NBC/WSJ poll is proof that the Tea Party should now shut up, move to the back of the bus, let GOP adults like John McCain do the driving, send their money to the RNC, and dutifully vote Republican on election days.

However, on Oct. 14, Fox News commentator Brit Hume correctly recalled what the aim of this fight has been about all along.  In fact, he described the fundamental motivation of the Tea Party much better than others have for quite some time. Hint: It’s not about news cycles, polls, or even the next election.  Listen to his short commentary below, and see what you think.

In words, here is Brit Hume’s description of what drives the emerging leaders of the Constitutional Conservatism / Tea Party movement:

They look back over the past half century, including the supposedly golden era of Ronald Reagan, and see the uninterrupted forward march of the American Left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew, and finally, in the Obama years, exploded.

They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweaning and bloated bureaucracy.

They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters that they’ll try nearly anything to bring that about. And if some of those things turn out to be reckless and doomed, well, so be it.

Kudos, Mr. Hume … you said it well at a time when it sorely needed saying.  Polls are important, but there is no bigger fish to fry than the one you described in your commentary — our national drift away from free markets, limited government, and personal/fiscal responsibility.  If you and your colleagues (like the cocktail-sipping Krauthammer) can help us spread your reminder about the ends of Constitutional Conservatism, as well as the means of achieving it, you’ll have provided us all a great service.

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** I can understand Krauthammer’s glee over getting even a small prediction right.  When a big prediction really counted, this is the pundit who advised the GOP to choose a “most electable” moderate GOP candidate like Mitt Romney in 2012 to “win the independents.”  It worked. Romney did well among independents in the swing states. And an uninspired base stayed home in droves. Oops. I’d be embarrassed too, Charles. From your lofty perch you trashed every conservative candidate who tried to break through. Will you and the Establishment GOP be doing the same for us in 2014 and 2016? Whom do you think we should add to the Dole/McCain/Romney string of gracious losers? And exactly what will be your recommended strategy to win back the enthusiasm of the conservative base? Attack them? Lecture them? Shame them? Discourage them?

3 comments
rofomoreno
rofomoreno

Thank you David Leeper for this solid and very revealing research. This post answers highly relevant yet [intentionally] media ignored questions. 

In following the video link to Mark Levin, then to PJMedia, then to the actual NBC/WSJ Survey Questionnaire, much is revealed as to the very telling results that the media (including FOX News) chose not to share with the news interested public (reportage by omission). This does give credence to many whose gut feelings leave questions as to the direction and hints of slant that FOX News has been steering toward (Brit Hume's commentary/explanation aside). 

In the very same polling results that showed 70% disapproval of Republicans job performance, the media failed to show the 60% disapproval rating of  Democrats. Harry Reid's numbers, which have never been discussed (particularly when one considers the Left leaning sampling of the overall participants), 5% see his job performance as Very Positive -vs- 20% Very Negative. This speaks volumes to the distrust and incredible unpopularity he has come to enjoy. 

By the way: Dittos to your assessment of Krauthammer.

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

@rofomoreno

Thanks, Rofo ... it's disheartening to hear nominally conservative pundits like Krauthammer, Rove, Ingraham, Prager, and others trashing Cruz, Lee, and Paul as they have been in the past week. If Cruz et al back off (which I doubt they will), who will fight for us?  McCain?  Ha!

While I've never been a big fan of Pat Buchanan, he wrote this week: The people who fought the battle of Obamacare will be proven right to have fought it, and America will come to see this. And the people who've said "We can't win!" will never win.

I doubt Brit Hume will be siding with the Tea Party Movement consistently -- he did the obligatory trashing of Cruz' tactics even in this editorial.  But it sure is nice to know that he can distinguish means from ends and articulate the TPM's ends so clearly, even if it's for just one brief shining moment!