by Jim Davies, 9/1/2010
The Tea Party, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin pulled about 300,000 people to a rally on the D.C. Mall on Saturday, to express dissatisfaction with the FedGov, whose offices and monuments surrounded them. That's no mean feat; I congratulate them. It was the 47th anniversary of M L King's famous speech in the same place, and Beck did quite well, I thought, to continue King's tone: he, too, had a dream. A dream of "taking our country back" and of a country where "with a little push" (as he said in his broadcast two days later) people, who are "basically good" (he did get that right, though I wonder what happened to the Judeo-Christian doctrine of original sin) would be kindly one to another, rather than demanding government entitlements. In fact, orthodoxy aside, Beck's remarks made the occasion more like a religious revival than a political rally.
The Establishment media had no idea what to make of it, and that is a very good sign that it had merit. The talking heads couldn't figure out from whom the country was to be taken back, or by whom, or why; some thought it might have something to do with the Constitution, but one overpaid commentator told us that all Americans like the Constitution (actually, very few have even read it.) So Beck, Palin and the TPers confused the élite, and that's a job well done.
Tea Partygoers have made a good start, by vigorously asserting that things are askew. No cure is possible until the patient complains, and that needed step is being taken. I hope, though, that they will go a great deal further - by describing the symptoms more exactly, and then figuring out a rational cure. I hate to admit it, but the Establishment media do have some excuse; at present, the message emerging from the rally and the movement is confusing - even cacophonous.
Al Sharpton's view to the contrary, unfortunately the Rally speakers were not "anti-government" as far as I could tell. Palin spoke in praise of Lincoln, in front of his Memorial, yet he was the President with most American blood on his hands; half a million dead, just so he could prevent the Southern States seceding, something no clause of the Constitution forbade; in that, I see no shred of honor. Lincoln is the archetype of strong, central, ruthless government; yet folksy, "How’s that Hopey-Changey Thing Working Out for Ya?" Palin found in him only "honor" and said "behind [her stood] the towering presence of the Great Emancipator who secured our union at the moment of its most perilous time and freed those whose captivity was our greatest shame." Wrong! Emancipation was never Lincoln's war aim in 1861. Palin devoted the rest of her speech to moving accounts of heroism in current and recent US government wars, without a word to suggest they ought not to be taking place.
Sorry, Sarah; you can't wage war and at the same time oppose government. Those are mutually exclusive.