It’s the dance of the apocalyptic Joe Klein. In his Nov. 28, 2013 Time magazine column, he attempts to make a connection between the Baby Boomer generation and the government shutdown. “Apocalypse Now: The U.S. can lay the blame for its current political mess at the feet of the baby-boomer generation.” Then, he clams his right to change his mind about the whole business in the third paragraph: “I’m not saying the baby-boom generation caused the shutdown.”
That’s pretty definitive. It’s just that, as a journalist with 44 years of experience, shouldn’t he have thought out his thesis and supporting arguments a little more clearly? But what about the Tea Party choreographers? For Klein, there are lots of possibilities for blaming or dismissing conservatives. In the first paragraph, he takes a strong tack to bashing them by comparing a crazed female driver and a man who lights himself on fire to Republicans.
For him, this is an easy match:
“The radical nihilist minority of the Republican Party and the GOP’s craven leadership.”
Nihilist, or nihilism, means, (1) the total rejection of established laws and institutions anarchy, (2) terrorism, or other revolutionary activity. Craven means, (1) having or showing a complete lack of courage : very cowardly; (2) lacking the least bit of courage : contemptibly fainthearted. Time does not profess to be radical or liberal. And yet, Klein is more than entertaining with his stupendous epithets hurled at Republicans and conservatives. The word anarchist was also mentioned by Sen. Harry Reid many times, from the Senate floor and elsewhere during the shutdown fracas.
It should be clear that the Republicans in question do not meet any of the above definitions. Sen. Ted Cruz worked within the confines of the Senate rules - to the obvious displeasure of Reid. But Klein is more than happy to take on the mantle of Reid and other Democrats who labeled the Republicans anarchists. Perhaps Klein could help Reid’s office with this definition as well. The Republicans involved in this (government shutdown) are really radicals, not conservatives - and a pestilence feeding on ignorance and cynicism, preying on fear as a period of prosperity wanes, he says. A period of prosperity? Where is the prosperity? A growth rate of less than 2 percent?
These claims lead to a problem for liberals like Klein; they play by different rules. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter if Republicans fit his definitions. Logic flies out the window; he gives credit to the Tea Party for adopting the Gadsden - Don’t Tread On Me flag. The flag is named for general and statesman Christopher Gadsden, who designed it during the American Revolution. It should be obvious to him that the flag is popular again because of unpopular programs or laws, like the Affordable Care Act, being forced on Americans. It isn’t.
Instead, he compares the flag to the Peace Symbol of the ‘60s - and even more strange, that it was a brilliant piece of choreography for the Tea Party to use the flag. It’s doubtful that he has attended any Tea Party rallies, or he would notice that other flags and T-shirts are also popular. But if he prefers choreography, he could always organize a Tea Party parade and create his own signature dance.
Liberals like Klein are loath to refer to the Tea Party as a grassroots effort, even though it accurately describes the movement. He claims that since Christians opposed the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, 39 years before, this was the first grassroots effort that has carried over to the Tea Party. The logic goes like this: people who opposed abortion protested against it because they are Christian; and so are people in the Tea Party. Therefore, the Tea Party movement is not an original grassroots effort.
The problem with this logic is that there are still Christians involved in the Pro-Life, anti-abortion movement who are apolitical and have no interest in the Tea Party. Likewise, many Christians in the Tea Party have no interest in protesting in front of abortion clinics. The unfortunate fact is that liberals like Klein have no interest in really investigating and reporting on the Tea Party because of fear or what they might find out. As to the New Left, he refers to them as having a moral absolutism, not the Tea Party, though the Tea Party has a significant representation of Christians.
The Tea Party is not quite in the same realm of influence as liberals. The real similarity between the Tea Party and the New Left is a matter of style: a politics of confrontation rather than of compromise, he writes. So which uses which tactic? He doesn’t say, but the order seems to be that the Tea Party is full of confrontation. Overall, the reader can easily get the sense that Klein is angry at conservatives because of taking a stand and a margin of political power, whether from the Tea Party or not, and fantasizes about Pres. Obama by declaring him a moderate.
Liberals like Reid gnash their teeth when conservatives like Cruz tell the truth from the senate floor. They, along with Obama, were likely infuriated by the government shut down - Baby Boomer or not. The federal government and it’s many programs are considered sacrosanct by Democrats, and liberals in Washington. For Obama, they are a means of creating new jobs and new Democratic voters. Shutting down the federal government is a direct hit on Obama’s ability to create new followers. As for Klein, he still has a job as a liberal columnist at the thinly published Time magazine.
© 2013 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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