On the New Civility

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 3, 2011

David Harsanyi explains how it works:

The Tea Party “acted like terrorists,” Joe Biden reportedly said of negotiations. One reasonable New York Times columnist called the tea party the “Hezbollah faction” of the GOP, and the other advised the radicals to “put aside their suicide vests”—for now. And in a sweeping assault on the Tea Party, metaphors, syntax, and clarity, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews packed everything he’d read on the blogs into a glorious globule of rhetorical confusion.

But fret not. Terrorist analogies are welcome when democracy fails to break to the left. Republicans should never refer to the Congressional Progressive Caucus as a bunch of wealth-destroying jihadists who wear suicide vests packed with prosperity-killing stimulus plans. That kind of overheated hyperbole would be catastrophic, leading to violence, and/or another alarmist Diane Sawyer television special. But Bob Beckel is just being cute when he discusses the “tea terrorist party” on Fox News. (He later apologized.)

And it turns out that the extremist freshman wing of the Republican Party (which wing isn’t extreme, though—am I right?) voted 59-28 in favor of the bipartisan “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” debt deal. What kind of namby-pamby hostage takers are these people? (Did you know that 95 House Democrats also voted against raising the ceiling? From what we’ve learned about staggering dangers of fooling around with this policy, we apparently have another 95 nihilists running around D.C.)

If you’re wondering why these elected officials, representing their constituents within the system, are the equivalent of terrorists, a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania bores to the heart of the matter: “This small group of terrorists,” Mike Doyle explained, “have made it impossible to spend any money.”

Well, damn near impossible. Washington will have to squeeze by on $43,900,000,000,000 over the next decade while wrestling with real cuts that are likely to rise to zero—or maybe less. If we can’t spend money, who are we as a people?

Perhaps it’s because of some psychological ailment such as Stockholm syndrome—and why else would a person believe in libertarian fiscal policy?—that I hope the tea party does a better job next time around. It is, after all, silly watching the establishment celebrate a compromise on debt that adds $7 trillion to the nation’s liability and uses a base line that assumes some pretty significant tax hikes.

Glenn Reynolds rightly piles on. A lot of people have embarrassed themselves this week; both with the use of hyperbolic and irresponsible rhetoric, and with displays of hypocrisy that boggle the mind. And the sad thing is that they will never understand–or pretend to never understand–their cognitive errors.

IMMEDIATE UPDATE: Read all of Paul Miller’s post, and reflect on how much of a shame it is that it actually had to be written, not to mention the fact that the people whose intellectual failures, and blatant lying made its writing a necessity will remain in positions of prominence and influence despite their best efforts to engage in the worst kind of demagoguery.

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