Ricochet Friday Essay Assignment, Or, Is the Tea Party Dead?


E. J. Dionne of the Washinton Post, writing earlier this week in a column headlined “Tea Party Movement Is Dead”:

The right wing has lost the election of 2012.

The evidence for this is overwhelming, yet it is the year’s best-kept secret. Mitt Romney would not be throwing virtually all of his past positions overboard if he thought the nation were ready to endorse the full-throated conservatism he embraced to win the Republican nomination.

If conservatism were winning, does anyone doubt that Romney would be running as a conservative? Yet unlike Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, Romney is offering an echo, not a choice. His strategy at the end is to try to sneak into the White House on a chorus of me-too’s.


Members have made 103 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Trink Reagan


    Discuss? !!!!!

    I’ll be right back. Gotta get a few more layers of duct tape around my cranium.

    • #1
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:20 am
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  2. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    The movement has passed but the concerto is at a crescendo!

    • #2
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:20 am
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  3. Profile photo of genferei Member

    If not discussed, dissed.

    • #3
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:23 am
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  4. Profile photo of Jager Member

    Apparently this is E.J.’s first ever Presidential Campaign. Republicans always run right in the primary and to the center in the general. Just like Democrats run left in the primary and to the center in the general election. Run to the Base in primary, Run to the center to win the election. This is what Obama did in 2008.

    “Conservatism is Dead” because this election is just like every other election. 

    • #4
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:24 am
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  5. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    Let us first consider whether Dionne has ever had a clue about anyone to the left of John Kerry. Answer: No.

    This is a crude attempt to get conservatives to stay home. It won’t work because none of us will ever listen to Dionne.

    • #5
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:26 am
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  6. Profile photo of David Williamson Inactive

    Writing as someone who once attended a Tea Party rally, and who didn’t vote for Mr Romney in the Primary, I can say that the Tea Party is not dead – it is backing Mr Romney (quietly). We’ll see on Nov 6 the result.

    As for the smug Mr Dionne, it’s his tree-based medium that is dead.

    • #6
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:27 am
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  7. Profile photo of Cuban Mike Inactive

    Wishful thinking on his part, at best.

    • #7
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:28 am
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  8. Profile photo of Clamor Undobad Inactive

    This article made me laugh out loud. My response was, “Oh honey, we’re just getting warmed up.”

    • #8
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:31 am
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  9. Profile photo of Mendel Member

    Or one could view Mitt Romney’s campaign as the normal state of affairs.

    The Framers designed the branches of government with the intention that the legislature, especially the House, would channel the grassroots sentiments of America more or less directly. The President, in contrast, would be less beholden to any one ideological group and more in tune with the center of public opinion.

    The Tea Party is a populist movement tailor-made to influence congressional elections on a district-by-district basis. The presidential election is not its natural bailiwick.

    In other words, the election process is actually doing what it was designed to do.

    • #9
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:31 am
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  10. Profile photo of Free Radical Inactive

    EJ will write a column in 2 years about the too conservative supreme court justice President Romney will appoint, the harmful effects of tax cuts and deduction limit, and the draconian decrease in the rate of increase of the size of the federal entitlement apparatus.

    • #10
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:31 am
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  11. Profile photo of Bereket Kelile Member

    I think Dionne must not have received the latest talking points memo from the White House. He’s supposed to be writing about how Romney is extreme and a far right-winger.

    Conservatism is so dead that twice as many people identify with it rather than liberalism. The stimulus bill and Obamacare are also very unpopular precisely because no one believes in conservative principles.

    Good grief!

    • #11
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:35 am
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  12. Profile photo of Richard Fulmer Member
    Free Radical: EJ will write a column in 2 years about the too conservative supreme court justice President Romney will appoint, the harmful effects of tax cuts and deduction limit, and the draconian decrease in the rate of increase of the size of the federal entitlement apparatus. · 0 minutes ago

    He’ll also be writing about how the robust economic recovery is hardest on women and African Americans.

    • #12
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:36 am
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  13. Profile photo of Edward Smith Inactive

    E.J. Dionne? Who is he? Is he some kind of Scribbler? Where do his Scribblings appear? In the Washington Post? What’s that? A newspaper? What’s a newspaper?

    • #13
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:36 am
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  14. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    E. J. Dionne is still alive?

    • #14
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:37 am
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  15. Profile photo of R. Craigen Inactive

    The Tea Party is working. However, it has a candidate about whom it does not easily rouse the flames of polical passion. Romney is “good enough for now”, not an easy line to marshall the forces with. Fortunately, the general Republican base is fairly well fired up.

    As for “dead” — I think the Tea Party is changing in its activities. I personally think they should continue to have less frequent rallies in larger venues, but it’s good to be out in the trenches as they are now.

    At its height the Tea Tarty had about 50% support among the electorate, according to PJTV’s Tea Party Tracking Poll (among blacks, over 30%). I forget the exact number but it was between 20 and 30 percent who said that, further, they were a part of the Tea Party, which means they had attended a rally or were similarly directly engaged.

    Thats — at minimum — 60 million Americans. You cannot convince me that 2 years later, the majority of those 60 million Americans no longer identify with the movement. Many are weary of the relentless ridicule, and may have shrunk back. But with enthusiastic leadership and some issues to battle over …

    • #15
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:38 am
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  16. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Inactive

    Yeah, boy, that 20 debate primary season was really a long unanimous march in one unstoppable direction. The long succession of Not Romney’s really goes to show there are no divisions on the Right and that the Tea Party has no role in our politics.

    Strange. In May we were being told that the Republican party was slavishly in thrall to the Tea Party and was the most radical Republican party in the history of radical Republican parties. Now, in October, when the election is swinging against the President, suddenly the Tea Party is dead.

    • #16
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:40 am
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  17. Profile photo of Chris O. Member

    I guess I’m unclear on exactly what Romney is not embracing. Though the third debate was punctuated by agreement on a number of foreign policy points, there remains a big difference in strategy: one candidate actually has one. Saying Romney “praised” the Obama foreign policy is stretching it.

    What has happened, almost by default, is that Mitt Romney now occupies both the right and the middle and it isn’t because he courted the middle, it’s because Obama went left. In 2008, candidate Obama essentially ran on moderate post-partisan platitudes. After winning, he moved left and put to rest any notion that his administration was in any way “post-partisan.”

    In this election, Obama is a class warrior. Why change the winning strategy? Who knows?!

    Perhaps Mr. Dionne mistakes acting civil to one’s opponents as “running to center.” I haven’t thought about Romney’s campaign in terms of “center” or “right,” probably because it’s the only campaign in this race that makes any kind of sense. He’s purposely avoided using the term “budget cuts,” but if you listened to the five-point plan, you have to know those are on the way.

    • #17
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:41 am
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  18. Profile photo of ConservativeWanderer Inactive
    Crow’s Nest: Strange. In May we were being told that the Republican party was slavishly in thrall to the Tea Party and was the most radical Republican party in the history of radical Republican parties. Now, in October, when the election is swinging against the President, suddenly the Tea Party is dead. · 0 minutes ago

    The George Orwell Memorial Ministry of Truth has had their Memory Holes working overtime.

    • #18
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:43 am
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  19. Profile photo of Hartmann von Aue Member

    E.J. Dionne….says something utterly vapid and lacking a basis in real observation of real political events. What a non-surprise. Does he still show up on The News Hour?

    • #19
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:47 am
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  20. Profile photo of Shane McGuire Member

    Obama: keep healthcare law

    Romney: me too?

    O: raise taxes

    R: me too?

    O: additional funding for planned parenthood

    R: me too?

    O: creepy ads about vote-sex

    R: me too?

    • #20
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:49 am
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  21. Profile photo of Barkha Herman Member

    In 2008, E. J. Dionne wrote an article “threatening” that if Obama loses, there would be riots in the streets. I commented on it – saying I don’t live in riot pron neighborhoods. Well, a riot ensued in the comments thread…

    Fortunately, now, I no longer comment on riot prone internet sites :-).

    I think the problem E. J. might have is a complete lack of understanding of the tea party. So, from his perspective, Eulogies are in order. It’s really “wishful eulogising”.

    • #21
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:53 am
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  22. Profile photo of Will Collier Member

    What’s to discuss? Dionne is an ideological hack, and not even a particularly clever hack at that.

    • #22
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:53 am
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  23. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive

    I seem to remember a million Tea Party patriots marching on Washington in the spring of ’09. If memory serves, the stated reason was to oppose the president and his policies. Did Dionne think we were just going to fade away before the job was done? Must be nice to get paid gobs of money for writing nonsense. Where can I apply? 

    • #23
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:55 am
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  24. Profile photo of ctruppi Inactive

    When I grow up, I want to be just like EJ Dionne. I want to become a writer for some big, fancy newspaper and write whatever incredulous fantasies pop up in my little brain and actually have people who agree with me politically think that it’s intellectual and not the rantings of a desperate, infantile mind!

    • #24
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:57 am
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  25. Profile photo of Daniel Halbach Inactive

    Mitt still promising to dump Obamacare +

    Mitt chose Paul Ryan +

    Mitt still talking about reigning in the fed reserve +

    Mitt focused on balancing the budget +

    Mitt is a constitutional constructionist =

    Mitt has run away from the Tea Party ??????

    E. J. Dionne will disavow this claim by Thanksgiving.

    • #25
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:58 am
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  26. Profile photo of Mendel Member

    Pundits are inexorably doomed to assumes that the trends of the last two months are predictive of the next 50 years, when in reality politics is a series of ceaseless oscillations.

    True, the fervor which gave birth to the Tea Party has attenuated: the rallies and raucous town halls have not occurred this year as they did in 2010. But ideological fervor always ebbs and flows in America: people get mad, vote the bums out, then they calm down until the new bums start betraying them again. Wash, rinse, repeat. We have certainly not seen the last of the Tea Party.

    But for a pundit, everything is linear. Past performance is always an indicator of future results. So if Romney does not disagree with Obama on every point? RIP Tea Party.

    • #26
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:58 am
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  27. Profile photo of Sabrdance Member

    He’s not wrong. Just mostly wrong. With mostly wrong, that means partially correct. With all wrong, there’s only one thing to do. Go through his pockets and look for loose change.

    Romney doesn’t represent the Tea Party. He represents the Republican Party, in which the Tea Party is probably a plurality coalition. Astonishingly, this means that Romney doesn’t play the Tea Party Tune all the time. Dionne could have as easily said the Neocons lost, or the Warhawks lost, or the Green-Eyeshades lost, or the SoCons lost, or the Evangelicals…. You get the idea.

    • #27
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:59 am
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  28. Profile photo of Paul Dougherty Member

    The “Tea Party is Dead” is right up there with this gem from 2008:

    The “End of Conservatism”, and later “We Are All Socialists Now”.

     The trick of the next two years may well be to help disillusioned leftists come to terms with their crumbled ideology. It will be important to remove the plausibilty of the nearest convenient excuse (i.e. fraud, republican lies, Romney dirty tricks, hurricanes, scaring of women etc).

    • #28
    • October 26, 2012 at 10:03 am
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  29. Profile photo of EJHill Contributor

    Giving EJs a bad name since 1952…This is the same spin that brings us the “Reagan was a moderate and couldn’t win in today’s GOP” meme. Put simply, even if the left loses, they win in their own minds…

    • #29
    • October 26, 2012 at 10:05 am
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  30. Profile photo of James Lileks Contributor

    “The right wing has lost the election of 2012.”

    This is intended as a consolation for his side also losing the election of 2012. See, that’s the real takeaway from Obama’s defeat – his ideas and beliefs are still popular and oh-so mainstream. We are all Keynsian Socialist Agnostic Transnational Progressives now. Why, the election of Romney proves it. 

    • #30
    • October 26, 2012 at 10:07 am
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