If you don’t already subscribe to the Tea Party Nation newsletter, you are missing some great stuff. The TPN is only one of several groups that claim to be the national Tea Party organization—it’s unclear yet whether they’re the Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks, so to speak—but they are the canary in the dark, radon-filled mine that is America’s conservative subconscious. First of all, sorry for cramming three metaphors into one sentence. Second, TPN’s most recent screed, entitled The Horrors of Illegal Immigration, is short and spooky enough to quote at length. Check it after the jump.
I assume that you have already seen this wonderful video, in which Chris Matthews interviews Rick “Gather Your Armies” Barber on Hardball. Not surprisingly, Matthews was concerned with some of the content in Barber’s recent campaign advertisements, particularly his claim that the IRS can raise taxes “without representation” and the exhortation, delivered by an actor playing George Washington, to “gather your armies.” To deflect this line of questioning, Barber deployed the classic defense of the person caught saying absurd things for attention: I was speaking metaphorically. To which Matthews replies, “Are you a metaphor? Are you a metaphor [for] a guy running for office, or are you a real candidate?” It’s not called Funball, pussies. Matthews makes a point as salient as it is rare: words mean something, and while their figurative meaning is important, their literal meaning counts, too. This Friday’s link roundup features a lot of people saying a lot of absurd and/or false things in the name of some larger, vaguer meaning. It’s the shield of metaphor, less politely known as lying, and it’s as beaten and bright-shining as ever.
Thus far, Combat! blog has not mentioned the crazy immigration law that the great state of Arizona passed in April, in part because that state has already been fully captured and in part because there seemed to be only one side to the coin. Nobody thinks that random* proof-of-citizenship checks are a good idea. Nobody thinks that letting private citizens** sue cops for not performing said checks is a good idea. Like a novel about an old racist woman*** and a black orderly who become unlikely friends in a nursing home, the discussion was boring because no sensible person would put himself on the other side. Enter Paul Theroux. The travel writer is not a sensible person, and he’d be happy to explain to you why the Arizona law is no big deal. He even brought his own straw man. And there, on the horizon like a majestic ship, or maybe a jet ski detached from a much better ship, looms Meghan McCain, who argues that people should stop being angry at Arizonans. It’s straw man versus non sequitur, and only the old and/or politically well-connected will survive.
The National Tea Party Convention took place in Nashville this weekend, and the only thing anyone seems able to agree upon is that it did actually occur. Considering the preliminary disputes over the ethics of holding a political convention for profit, whether it was really national, and whether the Tea Party even exists as a single entity, the “[National] ‘Tea Party’ <finger quotes>Convention</finger qutoes>” was a huge success. The Tea Partiers successfully established that they love Sarah Palin, who announced weeks ago that she would be paid $100,000 to speak at the event, but also wrote in USA Today that she “would not benefit financially for speaking at this event…any compensation for my appearance will go right back to the cause.” What “the cause” is remained unclear to everyone. Once again, the Tea Party boiled but failed to coalesce, and the convention that we at Combat! blog hoped would finally define the movement—as a national party, an activist agenda, or even a political platform—turned out to be another exercise in playacting. ABC News captured the mood best: “Delegate William Temple from Georgia, who was dressed in a kilt, said he wanted to work against ‘Republicans, Democrats and Independents who have been in Congress too many terms. We’re sick of everyone.'” Thus spake the petulant ignorance of a generation.