Richard Cohen of the Washington Post is none too happy with the Tea Party, and he’s not afraid to let the world know it:
The odd thing about the Tea Party is that it uses Washington to attack Washington. This is a version of Hannah Arendt’s observation that totalitarian movements use democratic institutions to destroy democracy. (This is what Islamic radicals will do in Egypt.) Note that the Tea Party is nowhere near a majority — not in the House and not in the Senate. Its followers have only 60 seats in the 435-member House, but in a textbook application of political power they were able to use parliamentary rules to drive the congressional agenda. As we have known since Lenin’s day, a determined minority is hands down better than an irresolute majority.
The Tea Party has recklessly diminished the power and reach of the United States. It has shrunk the government and will, if it can, further deprive it of revenue. The domestic economy will suffer and the gap between rich and poor, the educated and the indolently schooled, will continue to widen. International relations will lack a dominant power able to enforce the rule of law, and the bad guys will be freer to be as bad as they want. Maybe the deficit will be brought under control, but nothing else will. I worry — and I envy (but will not forgive) those who don’t.
Why? None of that sounds too far removed from Barack Obama’s early stated goals as a presidential candidate:
First, I’ll stop spending $9 billion a month in Iraq. I’m the only major candidate who opposed this war from the beginning. And as president I will end it.
Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending.
I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems.
I will not weaponize space.
I will slow our development of future combat systems.
As Deborah Howell, the Post’s late ombudswoman wrote immediately after the election, perhaps anticipating her paper’s role in the JournoList scandal to come, “I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.”
So why is Cohen against bipartisan support of the president’s agenda?
(Incidentally, nice bit of Orwellian doublethink to call the grass-roots, libertarian-oriented Tea Party “Totalitarian.” This has to be the first “Totalitarian” movement in the history of mankind that, if it gets everything it wants…will leave you the hell alone. Cohen’s freakout over this notion reminds me of another Hannah Arendt paraphrase.)