Walking Down the Middle of the Road Only Gets You Run Over

David Brooks, having woken up to find the Tea Party he went home with last night is in fact a giant rat king of cretinous lunatics, is attempting to climb out of bed quietly, and as per his usual “moderate” acrobatics, stumbling blindly through the kitchen, upending pots and pans and throwing dishes to the floor with all the grace of a hangover victim the day after Mardis Gras. This week’s tactic is to equate the Tea Baggers with the New Left of the sixties:

Because of this assumption, members of both movements go in big for conspiracy theories. The ’60s left developed elaborate theories of how world history was being manipulated by shadowy corporatist/imperialist networks — theories that live on in the works of Noam Chomsky. In its short life, the Tea Party movement has developed a dizzying array of conspiracy theories involving the Fed, the F.B.I., the big banks and corporations and black helicopters.

I see what you did there, Dave. and it’s not working.

This is what we call a false equivalency (also known as Moderate Spin attack). By implying that two extremes are diametrically opposed, he’s suggesting that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If this were true, than in between chocolate and vanilla would be frozen yogurt. Or strawberry. Or I don’t know what. A decrease in the capital gains tax, most likely. But Brooks, master of GOP Judo, is using the obvious lunacy of one group to tar his arbitrarily chosen opposite as being equally nuts. The problem with his two opposites is that they aren’t really even remotely the same. It’s not just apples vs. oranges. It’s apples vs. an imaginary fruit that is both invisible and purple, smells like summer on your grandpa’s farm and makes you virile like a double shot of Viagra.

Noam Chomsky may have some rhetorical flourishes that get up the nose of some folks but he and the lefties of the sixties were essentially right in their criticism of corporatism of American culture. He’s only been proven more right by recent events, such as the bank bailouts and privatization of the Middle Eastern War effort. But some of Chomskey’s fans were hippies and hippies smell funny! And David Brooks was once turned down for a date in San Francisco, by a girl with flowers in her hair.

Meanwhile the Tea baggers believe things that aren’t even negotiably true. There’s no wiggle room around Obama’s birth certificate or their obsession with the Fed or beleif in the righteousness of the gold standard. They’re a bunch of inattentive, scared middle class white folk, stirred into a fear frenzy by the very visible failure of their party to do anything constructive for an entire decade (or more), all fueled by the lingering racist backlash directed incoherently at our country’s first African American president. They’re threatened by change and their own inability to do anything to stop that change. Perhaps the New Left failed to effect any major change back in the sixties but that may have more to do with the Republican counter revolution (of which Brooks is a card-carying member) than anything inherently unworkable in the general outlook of the sixties Left. Yeah sure, world peace wasn’t really going to happen but stopping the napalming of Vietnamese villagers (and subsequent profit generated by the sale of said napalm) would sure go along way towards an incremental step in that direction. I’m not sure what the Tea Baggers want to achieve but screaming about a government (Muslim/Kenyan/Socialist) scheme designed to kill your dreams isn’t going to get there.

Link via @ebertchicago