Perry Thinks Loving Tea Party Means You Can Go Home Again. Oh, He'll Go Home, All Right.

Categories: Schutze
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If Rick Perry still considers himself a candidate for president, then I get to consider him one too. I think I'm justified in remarking on the 180-degree turnabout Gov. Perry has made in his basic worldview since beginning this quest.

You remember the original Perry line when it started, right? It was all about the Texas Miracle, the strong Lone Star economy for which he said he deserved credit. He said his philosophy as governor of Texas, which he promised to take to Washington with him as president, was that government's job was to "get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does."

Now he's in South Carolina attacking Mitt Romney's career as a private sector venture capitalist, heaping calumnies on Romney that Michael Moore wouldn't stoop to. So what is the underlying value system here that our governor brings to the table?

The question of values occurred to me this morning when I read David Brooks on The New York Times's op-ed page. I love to hate reading David Brooks -- or do I hate to love him? -- because he's a conservative, and yet I agree with him so much of the time and find him so deeply insightful.

He thinks people do what they do more because of deeply held core values than for social or economic external reasons, and I agree with him. I just think those values should make more people sign up to be Democrats. But there you have it. Today he asks a question about the external tone and inner message he's hearing from Republican primary voters in South Carolina:
Republican audiences this year want a restoration. America once had strong values, they believe, but we have gone astray. We've got to go back and rediscover what we had. Heads nod enthusiastically every time a candidate touches this theme.

I agree with the sentiment, but it makes for an incredibly backward-looking campaign. I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.
Yeah, well, that's the difference between him and me. I don't wonder. What's to wonder? Of course all this Tea Party stuff is about old white people yearning for the fat years. It's my generation. I lived through it. It's not the Greatest Generation, by any means. It's the sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation, born to relatively easy affluence if they were white in the post-World War II era.

We were fat and sassy in large part because of wars not fought on our turf. World Wars I and II decimated Europe but made us rich. For much of our lives until a decade or so ago, we were coddled and swaddled by a rich paternalistic government and rich paternalistic companies.

All white people had to do was show up for work, and we were well taken care of. Life was our banquet. Black people, Hispanics and immigrants stood against the wall with towels over their arms to serve us.

So that's gone. Way gone. I don't think there's a single white person living on either coast or in any of the nation's major cities who didn't see it going decades ago. This is a much more diverse, competitive and uncertain world than the one in which we older white folks grew up.

But apparently there is a very large cadre of older white people in white middle class suburbs and in the center of the country who failed to notice that the times, they were a-changing. The biggest body shock to that constituency was not that Obama, a black man, became president. It was that it was possible for a black family, the Obamas, to be of higher social class rank -- long before they got to the White House -- than middle-class white people. By every metric of the meritocracy, the Obamas walk the walk and talk the talk of the power elite.

That fact alone has caused a whole huge slew of older white people to become three things: loony, screwy and batty. If I were to create a comedic movie about the Tea Party, I would name my three main protagonists Loony, Screwy and Batty.

In that context, what are the core values expressed by the Republican-Tea Party right? Well, let's take the anti-immigrant stuff, for example. If we want to see the core values of the Greatest Generation, all we have to do is drive to the spot in every American town and city today where a bunch of Mexican guys are lined up hoping to get day-work. Those are the same kind of brave, self-sacrificing, hard-working, do-anything-they-have-to-do soldiers of upward mobility for their families who made this country great.

The Tea Party people, on the other hand, in their demands for all sorts of protection from competition by outsiders, express values that are fundamentally French. They're sitting around whining and sniffing corks while the immigrants take over the small-business sector. What would the Greatest Generation have had to say about that? I think they would have said, "Shut up, roll up your sleeves, go downtown and run a better diner if you think you're so much better than them."

That's why the Republicans are racing around in circles snapping at each other's tails and contradicting themselves by 180 degrees in this bizarre primary season. The core values they and their constituencies espouse publicly -- the restoration of good old moral certainty and self-reliance in America -- are the opposite of what they really want. They want government protection from competition by people who are not old and white. What makes them crazy is that they don't recognize their own cognitive dissonance -- they don't see it in themselves. Their primary season is loony, screwy and batty because they are.

So should all of these value questions really propel us to vote for Democrats, instead of Republicans? Man, I'm a little leery still of actually going quite that far. We haven't heard much from the Democrats yet, have we?

Their inclination so far has to been to compete in all the worst ways. When they do step out on stage, I fear they'll have Timothy Geithner in a coonskin cap screaming at us to remember the Alamo.

You know, if the whole generation takes a vote some day and decides just to become French, I actually might be able to go along with that. I might need some help on the money front -- just enough government subsidy to be able to live in the antique part of France with the wine and the cobblestones. But the Tea Party would want that too, wouldn't it?

The question would be: What about the damn French? Those rude snobbish beret-heads had better not discriminate against us. See? I can be a cognitively dissonant dude too. Me and Tea Party, sittin' in a tree ...

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56 comments
Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 Don't you mean the "Republic" party? I mean since we're apparently so "down" on suffixes these days.

Sanders Kaufman
Sanders Kaufman

This is part of a pattern with Republicans - they only support people they don't know.Once they get to know each other, they come to hate each other.Then they put all their faith in the next stranger who comes along.

Nick Rudolph
Nick Rudolph

If Perry doesn't believe in the government doing for the people, why is he taking his full salary and his retirement through a loophole in Texas law.  We are laying off teachers and firemen and policemen because of budget problems and this guy is "earning" nearly a quarter million dollars a year while he is riding around the country with no chance of becoming President.  He is also spending another $400,000 per month on security that we tax payers in Texas are paying.  He comes back to Texas he should be neutered and immediately put out to pasture, like any old bull that has used up his powers.

Phelps
Phelps

Brooks: "he's a conservative"

lulz

That's like me calling Perry my favorite Democrat.  Brooks just plays a conservative to fill the quota NYT.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

I find humor in the fact that the Republican candidates seem to be running on themes of restricting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  You know, core values.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

It's time to distinguish our "core values" based on their consistency, rather than attaching those values to words like Democrat, Republican, liberal, or conservative, in hopes that they will define what we actually believe. Those words have been misapplied to the point of impotence. Of course, most of us are not historian, philosopher, or old enough to remember what these words ought to mean.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

"I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return." - David Brooks. New York Times. January 17th, 2012

Montemalone
Montemalone

The politicians of both parties, and all the functionaries, are all rich. They have no idea what it's like to live in the real world.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

A friend who likes to research this sort of thing points out that in 2008 the bank bailouts, officially known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, authorized the federal government (Treasury) to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed financial assets.

The following year, at the height of the recession, the food stamp program cost federal taxpayers $56 billion and served 46 million people (averages out to about $130 per household.)

My friend notes that Newt Gingrich, that stalwart "conservative" who supported welfare  for the banks, trashed food stamp recipients in Sunday's debate. So much for core values.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

 I am an "older, white, middle-class voter." I remember the days of Ozzie & Harriet and the Beav. Have no nostalgia, no desire to go back. But I do wish you young whippersnappers would get it out of your heads that my generation/race/class is necessarily -- or even mostly -- "conservative." We, like you, are all over the political spectrum. As you'd find out if you ever bothered to inquire beyond the narrow confines of the Tea Pots.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Tea party people should see how their people hurt the State of Texas this last session.Education,health care and every other area of government.Perry and his Tea Party folk are directly responsiable for thousands of lost jobs.The World knows how dumb the Govenor of Texas really is,I did not know until he  National.

oakcliffgirl
oakcliffgirl

I like your support and inclusion for all races, but something doesn't make sense here. If we want to live and work like the "greatest generation;: don' t we need less govt and lower taxes so we can get jobs, get better jobs, and own the jobs (as Newt said)? Sure-we need opportunity for health care insurance and some kind of retirement saving opportunity, but the greatest generation would embrace the Constitution, reject hand-outs from Washington, and demand to be free to make one's own choices.

Sa
Sa

JIm, I think you're right on target.  The Republicans are now the party of the past.  They started in that direction in the 80s by allying with the evangelicals.

Unfortunately, the people who need to read your analysis are unlikely to read the Observer.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Jim, You remind me of why I don't like any of today's Republican candidates. I yearn for the Republican party of Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Martin Luther King. But, as a friend of mine put it: "Republicans: Google "Barry Goldwater." If you think he's a RINO, I have some bad news for you.Democrats: Read up on JFK. If you start thinking "right winger," you may also want to reconsider your positions."

Phelps
Phelps

I find humor in the fact that the Republican candidates seem to be running on themes of restricting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

FIFY.

Albert
Albert

Looking at the facts I posted above concerning governorships and state legislatures, I can only assume that the more they win, the greater indication that they're losing.

By the metrics of Brooks and others, if the Republicans take the Senate, that means they're on their way out.

If the Republicans manage to take the White House, that means the party is finished, kaput, put a fork in 'em.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Cuz foodstamps are for "them", not "us". (Us being the political classes and their enablers).

Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas

In the 2010 midterm elections, the over 65 vote went Republican by an overwhelming 20 point margin. #fact

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Everybody now sees why Perry wouldn't debate during the gubernatorial election cycle, anything beyond ordering a burger at TGI Fridays leaves Perry confused and stammering.

scottindallas
scottindallas

The top tax rate under Ike was 94%.  The tax rate ranged from 91-94%.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Government spending and regulations and taxes (91% top rate under Ike) made the "greatest generation" possible. Cause and effect. They used to teach that in school, but I understand science is a dirty word these days.

JimS
JimS

The greatest generation created the UAW, the United Mine Workers, the Teamsters,the AFL-CIO, social security and Medicare. The greatest thing about the greatest generation was that they didn't votre against their own interests.

dallasmay
dallasmay

Do you really not realize that taxes and the federal government are smaller now than at any time in the last 50 years?

Guest
Guest

Taxes are lower than they've been in generations. Jobs don't necessarily follow low taxes (compare the 1990s to the 2000s. We had higher taxes in the 1990s but much higher job growth. The 2000s were almost a lost decade even when factoring out the 2008 economic crash).

Coupled with targeted tax breaks and other government handouts to businesses, there are a significant number of corporations who pay no tax at all while, at the same time, they cut jobs.

In my own business, my decisions as to whether to hire an additional worker come from a business need. Even lowering my taxes to zero isn't going to get me to hire an additional employee I don't need.

If anything, higher taxes can create an incentive to hire another worker earlier than I might otherwise. Because I can deduct the salary I pay my employee from my gross revenues, the government effectively picks up a portion of that salary in the form of a lower tax bill for me. The higher the tax rate, the higher the effective subsidy.

But, like I said, by far the biggest factor in whether I'll hire another employee is whether I need another employee.

Phelps
Phelps

 The Republicans are now the party of the past.

Yeah, heard a lot of that around December 2008.

Didn't hear it anywhere December 2010.

Montemalone
Montemalone

"Unfortunately, the people who need to read your analysis are unlikely to read"

(edited for clarity)

Albert
Albert

"The Republicans are now the party of the past."

Republicans hold 31 governorships to Democrat's 21 (no wiki today, may be off one or two)

Republicans hold state legislatures at about two to one ratio over Democrats.

Clearly, the party has lost the edge.

Cliff
Cliff

I hear if you buy David Brooks a brandy, he'll take the time out from being one of the 99% of those white men doing the back-breaking work of helping others shape their values by writing a column twice a week for the New York Times in order to chat about the receding roar of white America with any of those entitled by their employer to blow work off long enough to comment about the issue on a blog.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

My argument, Dylan, is based not on statistics. It is based on the all-too ready tendency on this blog, starting with the blog's resident pundit, to lump a certain class of folks into a category of contempt. Based on that evident tendency, I'd guess that the demographics here skew young and to the left. But that would be grossly stereotyping, wouldn't it?

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

And even then he'd forget you asked him to hold the mayo.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

The tea party would respond with "correlation does not equal causation" (but mostly just because they heard somebody else say that once)

Phelps
Phelps

Nah, they voted against my generation's interests.

Observist
Observist

Samuel Gompers fought in WWII?

Georget
Georget

That's exactly why I don't view them as the greatest generation.    A lot of what is wrong with this country today is your list above.   Unions need to be snuffed out - what do the suffering industries with bad customer service have in common? unions.  Social Security and Medicare need to be made economically sustainable but nobody has the political courage to do so.

What's wrong with the political process today is that you are now thinking I'm a Tea Partier.   At the same time, people on the right think I'm a left wing socialist.  Yes, I've been called both.   The moderates (like me) need to take this country back from the partisan wingnuts that are running things.

Montemalone
Montemalone

And how many employees do hedge fund managers hire? excluding the pool boy, chauffeur, cook, maids, valets...

scottindallas
scottindallas

That's a worthless defense.  If that be the case, then you need to learn to question yourself and the wisdom of your impulses.  I played rugby for years, I'm not a pacifist, nor a diplomat.  But, you fight long enough and you'll get your ass whooped, warn down, distracted or bankrupted.  We're facing all of these. 

But, let me ask you, what did we gain in invading Iraq or Afghanistan?  I'm all for the dirty pool/underhanded advantage, but what did we gain?  We're more isolated than ever, we've lost influence in the world, we're losing contracts, allies, wealth, soldiers and attention, for what gain? 

Warmongers haven't served us much of anything in over 40 years.  Albert, time you work on other aspects of your personality. 

Albert
Albert

Timely tip, SD.

I'm reading why they folks at NRO are against SOPA and PIPA. Now that I know of NRO's true nature, I support SOPA!

Albert
Albert

But Scott, I'm a warmonger.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Albert, get another source for information than the warmongers at NRO.  They've been nothing but wrong, and always on the side of belligerence. 

Albert
Albert

I hear if you buy him some tequila, he dances on the bar in blackface.

I don't read Brooks unless someone at NRO or some other Nazi website links to it, he just got too squishy and boring.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Jeez, Weez, it took you one month to come up with that?Where have you been? The caravan has moved on. I hate to have to explain everything to someone who walked in so late. Next time try to pay attention! And try not to skew in public. It's not dignified in a person of your age.

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 Yes, it would! But since I skew as old and left, I can freely find you contemptible, and often do, without grossly stereotyping you, right?

scottindallas
scottindallas

Banks and the customer service depts of utilities are not unionized, yet they have the lowest customer service ratings.  I suggest you will find that utilities, and banks are utilities of a type are inherently flawed.  The fact that there is no real alternative nor competition creates a flawed market, one that bears little resemblance to the "free market" where competition and alternatives give customers all the power.

Paul S
Paul S

the dismantling of the unions because they have a reputation for greed and corruption is akin to trashing the constitution because the government is greedy and corrupt.  Without unions there would be no minimum wage, health benefits of any kind, any sort of protection process that keeps bad managers from destroying the careers of their staff or even the concept of weekends. If you enjoy any of these entitlements, whether you are union or not, you need to thank the unions. 

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

 "Unions need to be snuffed out - what do the suffering industries with bad customer service have in common? unions."I challenge your claim to be a "moderate."

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