Kool Aid, Tea, and Levers

Wild Bill recently analyzed the cliche, “drinking the Kool [Flavor] Aid,” pointing out, among other things, that one who drinks the Kool Aid (in the Jonestown sense with which people associate the cliche) will be dead, like the metaphor,  and unable to be manipulated further.

Columnist Kathleen Parker recently (5-5-10) deployed the Kool Aid cliche in a piece lamenting the probable demise of relatively conservative Republican Bob Bennett from Utah:

“If Obamaphiles have been sipping Kool-Aid, Bennett’s primary challengers have been steeping in the bitter tea of an angry electorate. Indeed, more than two-thirds of delegates to the upcoming Utah Republican convention consider themselves to be tea party supporters.

If good-faith, conservative legislators such as Bennett fail to pass muster, who will be brave enough to legislate?

If no one, then what?”

I assume Parker equates liking Obama’s performance in office as “sipping Kool-Aid,” but it’s hard to know what she may mean, and really she’s just offering a tautology: “Obamaphiles love Obama.”  Oddly enough, I don’t encounter many Obamaphiles as I read about politics or talk with acquaintances.  Most people I know who characterize themselves as “liberal” or “Leftist” are more or less dissatisfied by Obama, even if they are horrified by the rightward lurch of a Republican Party that had already lurched that way once under Bush II.

Nonetheless, I take Parker’s main point, which is to suggest that the apparent purging of Republicans like Bennett exhibits an irrational quality:

“But Bennett committed the ultimate sin in tea party circles. He voted for the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP), aka “bank bailout,” during the George W. Bush administration. He advanced a market-driven health care reform bill as an alternative to the Democratic plan that, alas, also included an insurance mandate.

Never mind that a Republican president proposed the bailout, or that many Republicans and free marketers felt TARP was crucial to keep the economy from capsizing. For those who have forgotten, the point was to prop up the credit system to keep enough money flowing so that the ‘free market’ didn’t collapse entirely.”

In other words, the scheme called TARP was pretty much an emergency response, one that was not liberal or conservative but just necessary to prevent a Depression.  Bob Bennett sensibly voted for it.  It achieved more or less what its designers said it would, as Parker explains.  For his sensible trouble, Bennett will probably get the boot.

For Parker’s troubles and her fair, sensible question about actually governing, she receives disdain, such as this, from one John Hawkins at Right Wing News:

” […]Then there’s moderate Republican Colin Powell who endorsed Barack Obama. There’s also moderate Republican Kathleen Parker, moderate Republican Christopher Buckley, and moderate Republican David Brooks, all of whom may as well have endorsed Obama […].

So, let’s see: Do moderates make up the majority of the GOP? No. Are moderates a big help on fund raising? No. Do they defect on crucial votes to pass liberal legislation and kill conservative bills? Yes. Can they even be counted on to stay in the party? No.

But, what do we hear?   We need the Republican Party to be more moderate: Like Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, Colin Powell, David Brooks, Meghan McCain, yada, yada, yada — failure.

Yes, moderates are welcome in the GOP. Yes, we need to run moderate candidates in certain states. Yes, the GOP needs to do what it can to convince moderate voters to pull the lever for the party.

But, the Crist defection is just the latest evidence of the obvious: The GOP needs to be a conservative party, centered around conservative principles, with conservatives in charge of all the important levers of power.”

Parker’s error, I assume, was in expressing dissatisfaction with Sarah Palin. . . . The “yada, yada, yada” [one d or two?] amuses, as it springs chiefly from Seinfeld’s show, which I guess was conservative in the sense that you’d never guess from watching it that anything more serious than “close-talkers” was happening in the world, but which was otherwise centrist, middle-class stuff–not the Right Stuff John Hawkins seeks.

The double-deployment of “lever” intrigues.  In plain sight, Hawkins suggests pandering to and patronizing moderates, more or less tricking them into pulling a lever for conservatives.  He may want to approach deception more stealthily; who knows?  At least he admits he wants a party centered “around” (he means “on,” as a circle is by definition centered on its midpoint) conservative principles, which seem to include the principle by which one manipulates, tricks, and mocks moderate GOPers.  He also wants conservatives in charge of all those important levers, levers which bring to mind the machine in Oz.


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