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The Tea Party and Moderate Republicans

Had any interesting conversation with another person the other day.  Went kinda like this.

Them: So the Tea Party hates moderate Republicans right.

Me: Yeah, but it isn't like an organization with centralized leadership.

Them: So they hate Scott Brown.

Me: Well, no.

It got me wondering why there wasn't any organized and effective Tea Party movement against Scott Brown during the Massachusetts Republican primary.  You could argue that Massachusetts conservatives were being prudent and, knowing that they weren't going to get anyone to the right of Brown, they took what they could get.  There is something to that, but, it doesn't explain why there was a dump Castle movement in left-of-center Delaware, but not in Massachusetts.  I think that the explanation is that a populist conservative insurgency against a moderate Republican requires several elements to come together.  Brown avoided the fate of Bennett, Murkowski, Crist, Specter, and Castle due to several things that were in his control and one big thing that wasn't.

1.  Brown's opponent in the Republican primaries was a perennial candidate with a history of personal problems (sound familiar?.)  But Jack E. Robinson was not able to distinguish himself as a populist and more conservative alternative to Brown.  He might have had some paid media, but I never saw any of it.  I saw him on one of the local evening news shows one time and, while talking the same anti-Obamacare, pro-tax cuts stuff as Brown and just about every other Republican he said nothing to distinguish himself from Brown .  There were some differences on social issues.  Robinson was pro-life and pro-gay marriage, while Brown was the reverse.  The lack of a conservative alternative in the race gave Massachusetts down-the-line conservative no one to coalesce behind.  If there hadn't been a credible (Joe Miller) or semi-credible "real conservative" in the race, Lisa Murkowski, Charlie Crist, and Mike Castle would be on the way to winning Senate elections.

2.  It strikes me that the Tea Party movement is (along with the right-leaning issue preferences and media consumption habits of its supporters) an anti-entitlement, anti-establishment movement.  While I expect that Scott Brown will show up as a moderate Republican in the next ACU ratings (fwiw) he didn't come across as entitled or as a member of the establishment.  He worked hard and did so in a way that he was seen to be working much harder than anyone else.  He also campaigned against the state and federal political establishments.  

3.  He focused on issues on which he agreed with conservatives.  He built his campaign against the stimulus (unlike Crist and Specter, who supported it), Obamacare (unlike Murkowski and Castle who voted no but later waffled), and civilian trials for terrorists, and in favor of tax cuts.  He even explained supporting tax cuts in the very Reaganite way of invoking JFK in  a very clever ad. 

4.  Brown maintained good relations with the local right-leaning media.  He not only went on the local right-leaning talk shows (or in the case of Dennis and Callahan, shows with right-leaning hosts and audiences), he often got the hosts to say nice things about him and what an improvement he would be over any of the Democrats and explaining to their audiences that we can't expect conservative perfection in Massachusetts. Brown didn't treat conservatives with disdain.

5.  Timing.  There was very little of an "almost any real conservative can win" narrative in early 2010.  Doug Hoffman had just lost the special election in New York-23.  Obamacare was still working its way through Congress and it seemed like one more Republican Senator (and maybe the shattering effect on Democratic morale of a Republican win in Massachusetts) would stop Obamacare.  It didn't work out that way of course, but it probably made it easier for some Massachusetts conservatives to support Brown  

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 21 Comments

"It got me wondering why there wasn't any organized and effective Tea Party movement against Scott Brown during the Massachusetts Republican primary."

You're over-thinking the answer. At that time, Brown was the vote that could stop Obamacare. Add his strong support for fiscal responsibility, and he was a natural for Tea Party to support.

Considering (several) recent bouts here at NLT about "liberal fascism" (I lost, of course, and Hal Holst probably won, I've lost track of all those who've defeated me here!), and the supposedly hopeful (for tea partiers) situation in Ohio, and now this post about the true nature of the tea partiers - I think it's a perfect moment to consider this.

Here's Rich Iott at the Perrysburg, Ohio tea party rally, introduced with "...God willing, the next Congressman from Ohio's 9th District..."

youtube dot com/watch?v=zWPB3n47Bmw

Iott starts out with a hearty "Do you like the smell of tea in the morning?" (very manly!!) and proceeds to hit all the usual buttons, with all the right winks and nudges - jabs at Obama and Pelosi, taxes, Big Gummint, illegals, the poors are lazy, "socialistic policies", etc....

He gets an enthusiastic reception from the crowd, of course.

Here's Iott dressed up like a German Waffen SS soldier, a hobby that Iott partook in not very long ago.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/print/2010/10/why-is-this-gop-house-candidate-dressed-as-a-nazi/64319/

From that page:

"The website makes scant mention of the atrocities committed by the Waffen SS, and includes only a glancing reference to the "twisted" nature of Nazism. Instead, it emphasizes how the Wiking unit fought Bolshevist Communism:

[quoting the website] 'Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement. Regardless, thousands upon thousands of valiant men died defending their respective countries in the name of a better tomorrow. We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free. '"

That's right - they were fighting "for a basic desire to be free."

Similarly, from Wiking's website (no, I'm not linking to it), there's this, from their disclaimer where they laughably try to keep the Klan and suchlike from latching on to them (I can't imagine why they might try!)

"We honor the men (and women) [Ed: So, wait a sec, I thought Femi-Nazis were a BAD thing. Quick, get Limbaugh on the line!] who really experienced the war, and we salute their courage and loyalty to put their lives on the line in defense of their native soil."

That's right - the Nazi soldiers were just some good old boys who were actually playing DEFENSE!! - protecting "their native soil" (aka, their "Lebensraum"!)

This is really disgusting, shameful stuff. (But sadly, the main reaction to this from the tea party right will most likely be pathetic excuse-making)

He belonged for a time to a WWII re-enactors group where he played German soldiers, which is an odd hobby.

What's your point?

I thought I was clear. The group that he was part of - Wiking - is clearly not just a "hobby" group. They have a sick, twisted notion of history (I don't think I need to elaborate further on that - did you even read the quotes from their site?) and what the SS soldiers were doing.

Yeah, sure, it's JUST "an odd hobby" - right:

http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/ohio-tea-party-candidate-nazi-re-enactor

From the link:
"And this is how I know he's full of it. I'm going to share my own personal experience here. I was married to a Confederate Civil War Re-enactor for 10 years, and it is far more than an "interest in...history." They choose the side they're sympathetic with, for starters. They research the period, the uniforms, the attitude, and the social climate surrounding the period. They don't just re-enact it. They live, eat, breathe and admire it.

They will argue strategy, tactics, nitpick historical authenticity, and political implications for hours. It's costly, requires not only an investment in weapons but also in authentic costumes and other pieces. You can find them scouring antique shows looking for photos, letters, memorabilia, and other pieces of that time period.

It is not as simple and harmless as Iott paints it. Nor does it make him a Nazi, but his effort to minimize and cover it is telling, in my opinion, particularly since any reference to his participation was scrubbed from the Wiking website."

===
Don't forget to run a word count, Art.

Mechelle, I'm not sure that fiscal responsibility is Brown's strong suit. He also clearly telegraphed that he was more likely than the average Republican to work with the Democrats and he has lived up to it with his votes on Democratic spending and regulatory bills. He may have made them a litlle better though. You are right on the timing of course on Obamacare, but he also did other things to minimize friction with conservatives.

Craig, such a strange little link. This man was a reenactor years ago and it tells something about his political views and that tells us about the beliefs of tea partiers in general. I do however find it disturbing though not for the reasons the crooks and liars person thinks.

And I don't keep score.

Nor does it make him a Nazi,

Stipulated. So what's your point?

"This man was a reenactor years ago and it tells something about his political views and that tells us about the beliefs of tea partiers in general. I do however find it disturbing..."

However??

Yes, I do think it tells us something...

Art - I think what it tells us is that the guy is some sort of quasi-fascist Nazi sympathizer who has enough political awareness to know that he (probably) can't be open about that and have a chance at winning a race.

Do you guys know any reenacters? I do. They play it like a game or like theater; do you think Bela Lugosi was a secret vampire sympathizer because of the role he played? I know a bunch of people who played Confederates and are no more sympathetic to The Cause than I am. They had a certain sympathy with state's rights, but all knew how slavery made that stand impossible. They do gain sympathy with the thinking of their characters, but so do biographers of vile people.

I met a person who played a redcoat in Revolutionary War reenactments and was no more a monarchist that an you guys. Sheesh.

Given the way people run amok with things like "He dressed up like a Nazi!!!" no wonder the guy is trying to keep that under wraps. When I was a child, my mother dressed me as a witch for Halloween. Do you want to make anything of it?

Kate, be serious. Comparing Halloween dress-up costumes (and traditionally, the idea has been to dress up as something scary - so, personally, if he'd done that and only that, I'd have nothing to object to) to a sub-culture that includes a club - that Iott was a member of - that clearly glamorizes and romanticizes Nazi soldiers and all but erases their crimes, well, that shows a real lack of discernment, I think, at the very, very least.

Look at the quotes I provided from Wiking, the group that Iott was part of. Check the site yourself - in all likelihood they're not ashamed and have taken nothing down.

Come on, to just begrudgingly mention the aggressive nature of the SS and its many crimes, and its goal to wipe out inferior nations and peoples as it invaded and conquered them, and to highlight its anti-Communist nature:

"Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism."

- that's shameful (although, interestingly, it does seem that this group hasn't got the right-wing memo that communism and leftist movements of all stripes are to now be played as on the same side as fascism).

But these are the clinchers that should make any self-described lover of liberty (and student of history) cringe:

"We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free."

and

"We honor the men (and women) who really experienced the war, and we salute their courage and loyalty to put their lives on the line in defense of their native soil."

in DEFENSE????

Kate, really, just stop and think a minute. Try to put your partisan politics (Go Tea Party / GOP candidates! Dems are evil !) aside for just a minute, and recognize what's wrong here. This isn't just a dress-up club.

Do you really think that the Germans were playing defense in WWII ???

If someone you consider an authority figure - say, John Moser - would step in (like he did on Beck's promotion of Elizabeth Dilling) and say that this crosses a real line of moral principle, would you then stop trying to minimize this revelation, which should trouble anyone who considers him/herself to be anti-fascist. I know how you react to me: if I say the grass is green you're going to doubt it.

(also, Kate, I want to avoid swatting this boring old hornet's nest here, but your casual separation of "state's rights" from slavery is both telling and laughable.)

"Mechelle, I'm not sure that fiscal responsibility is Brown's strong suit."

The question was why there wasn't Tea Party opposition to Brown while he was campaigning. The answer is dictated by how he was perceived then, not by what we've learned since the election.

Anon, if fiscal responsibility is to have any meaning beyond opposing Obamacare and the stimulus, then Brown's combination of support for tax cuts and expressed willingness to work with Democrats (he was cagey about where of course) were warning signs. Though his lack of record in federal office did not give clear reasons for fear and he was smartly vague. Absent an alternative, people also weren't looking all that hard or asking alot of detailed questions.

Pete said "Though his lack of record in federal office did not give clear reasons for fear and he was smartly vague."

Precisely my point. At that time, supporters not only didn't know what they didn't know, but they couldn't know what they didn't know.

Get over it already. 20/20 hindsight isn't all that impressive.

I think what it tells us is that the guy is some sort of quasi-fascist Nazi sympathizer who has enough political awareness to know that he (probably) can't be open about that and have a chance at winning a race.

There is not one explicitly political statement on the website of that particular re-enactors group, unless you count the following:

We will not under any circumstances welcome anyone who embraces racism or Nazi idealogy of any kind!!! Please review our disclaimer on the main page.


You are free to take that any way you want. However, I live in a world that is. In the world that is, Nazi sympathizers number one per county in this country and tend to be people like David Duke -- people with no particular trade or calling they have mastered (other than being a public nuisance). In the world that is, the Republican Party is run by Chamber-of-Commerce types with a leavening of evangelical communicants. Such types would include Richard Lott, formerly in the grocery business.

That is the world that is. Then there is the world of the foetid regions of your mind, where the political opposition are aspirant Nazis. Enjoy yourself.

Anon, get over what? Brown is what I expected him to be and who I voted for. I was just trying to work out why he, in his campaign, did not face a populist conservative backlash where other moderate Republicans did. Though I do remember calls on right-leaning local talk shows that he wasn't a REAL conservative (pro-choice, pro-Romneycare), though the callers were almost always talked down to the position that Brown was the best that could be hoped for and that stopping Obamacare was paramount.

Art, I'm glad that you live in the "world that is."

Do you live in a world in which Germany fought in its own defense during WWII, and not as a primary aggressor ?????

To say that SS soldiers "gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free" and "in defense of their native soil" is to make a political statement, and it's a rather perverse one at that.

I hope my pointing this out isn't really even necessary.

But for Redwald's sake, let's hear from a couple historical scholars [from the Atlantic article I linked to earlier] - he just LOVES scholars:


"These guys don't know their history," said Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., a retired history professor and author of "Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-45," which chronicles an SS division. "They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred."

...

Christopher Browning, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said, "It is so unhistorical and so apologetic that you don't know to what degree they've simply caught up innocent war memorabilia enthusiasts who love putting on uniforms."

...

In her book "The Death Marches of Hungarian Jews Through Austria in the Spring of 1945," Eleonore Lappin, the noted Austrian historian, writes that soldiers from the Wiking division were involved in the killing of Hungarian Jews in March and April 1945, before surrendering to American forces in Austria.

...

"What you often hear is that the [Wiking] division was never formally accused of anything, but that's kind of a dodge," says Prof. Rob Citino, of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas, who examined the Wiking website. "The entire German war effort in the East was a racial crusade to rid the world of 'subhumans,' Slavs were going to be enslaved in numbers of tens of millions. And of course the multimillion Jewish population of Eastern Europe was going to be exterminated altogether. That's what all these folks were doing in the East. It sends a shiver up my spine to think that people want to dress up and play SS on the weekend."

Craig, I think you misread me. "They had a certain sympathy with state's rights, but all knew how slavery made that stand impossible." I wasn't even writing about myself or what I think. What are you talking about?

Craig, I begin to think you are misreading everything, the more I read your comments up there. Do you contend that every German in WWII was a psychopath? Try this book by Stephen Ambrose; http://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Soldiers-Normandy-Beaches-Surrender/dp/0743450159/ref=sr_1_35?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1286845129&sr=1-35 Over the years, I have met old men who had fought in the German Army in WWII and a couple who as very young men were Nazis. They are not inhuman. Their problem was both that they were German or of German ancestry and Germany was at war.

I cannot understand why you have been so defensive of Al Qaeda and Taliban and horrified by Guantanamo and are taking this stand about people who are of the same sort.

As to reenactors, my point is that if you are engaging in theater, someone has to play the bad guy. That does not MAKE them bad guys: see Art Deco's quote from the reenactor website.

"Do you contend that every German in WWII was a psychopath?"

No, Kate, and I never said or implied that. The point is that they were fighting on Hitler's team, which was anything BUT a team playing "defense" - even if whatever percentage of soldiers saw it that way (and being an adult volunteer for the SS, well, how can that possibly be spun as honorable, as the Wiking site tries to do??).

The fact that Christopher Browning has slapped down this group is quite damning, I think. He's the author of this:

http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Men-Reserve-Battalion-Solution/dp/0060995068

It's not really important if they were psychopaths or not - look at what they DID, Kate.

"I cannot understand why you have been so defensive of Al Qaeda and Taliban..."

Kate, that is a lie, and I think you know it. Either show some evidence of where I have done that, or withdraw the statement.

Craig, I am not sure how to look back for such comments. It is not a lie and I do not even think it is a smear. If I had to go back using a keyword search I would probably look for Hal Holst comments that were variations on the theme of "You are a lousy Arab-lover." Though as far as I can recall, he never used those exact words. Well, he might have.

Possibly, I would have to go back to the Bush years when you had Guantanamo on your mind and were, typically, inclined to hyperbole in some seasons. Now that the president is a Democrat, what happens to the detainees at Guantanamo doesn't seem to bother you any more.

I know what the Nazis did. I grew up in a Jewish community, and some of my friends parents and grandparents had been in the camps. Even if I hadn't, I doubt you could grow up the child of a WWII veteran and not know. Their German contemporaries, the old men I was referring to, spoke of the necessity of doing what you were told so you did not get shot. Like I said, there were bad guys and in reenacting the past, you cannot ignore the bad guys.

I have a niece who dances in the Ballet Magnificat and one of their ballets is The Hiding Place wherein she plays a Nazi officer (maybe even SS) who does brutal things. Do you find her suspect, too?

"Craig, I am not sure how to look back for such comments. It is not a lie and I do not even think it is a smear. If I had to go back using a keyword search I would probably look for Hal Holst comments that were variations on the theme of "You are a lousy Arab-lover.""

Well, get cracking, back up your accusation with something called evidence - anything you can find. Google's not difficult to use at all. Or do you just throw this excrement hoping something will stick?

Here's a classic Kate comment from the archives.

In discussing birth rates in France and the fear of the onset of Sharia law there if the Muslims outbreed the non-Muslims, I joked with dittohead Dain, saying:

"dain, maybe the French should start putting their Muslim populations onto trains and give themselves some lebensrau...errr..."breathing space", eh?"

(and I link to his previous comment where he suggests that "A few trains and some breathing space between disparate peoples beat mass murder."

Dain replied with "that’s exactly what should be done."

and later Kate approves with "I confess to being frightened of Sharia and if a shifting demographic brings that closer, then dain’s trains have appeal to me."

Here:
http://nlt.ashbrook.org/2007/01/french-baby-boomlet.php#comment-34887

"Now that the president is a Democrat, what happens to the detainees at Guantanamo doesn't seem to bother you any more."

Well, that's certainly a stinking pile of b.s. you're serving up! I am all on-board for Obama and his administration to be held fully accountable for torture and then some at Gitmo. Helping to cover for Bush and Cheney and even expanding upon their wrongdoings. I'm basically in the Glenn Greenwald camp on that issue, and I'm far, far away from being some knee-jerk Obama defender (even if I don't tolerate birthers and those who accuse him of being a racist / socialist / communist / fascist / terrorist-sympathizer, etc.) I like valid critiques, not desperate lies.

"I have a niece who dances in the Ballet Magnificat and one of their ballets is The Hiding Place wherein she plays a Nazi officer (maybe even SS) who does brutal things. Do you find her suspect, too?"

So, does the program booklet for the ballet say that the troupe "salutes" the Nazi officer, who was fighting "for freedom" and to "defend his native land" ?? If yes, and she's aware of such revisionism and shrugs it off, then yeah, I find her suspect. If no, then I see no problem.

Okay, so I await your withdrawal of your earlier lie, or your provision of some evidence to back up the accusation that I "have been so defensive of Al Qaeda and Taliban..."

Don't you want to let homos in the military? What could be more pro-Arab than letting a bunch of prancing pansies into our armed forces? You won't see the Arabs doing that.

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