Friday, March 12, 2010

Tea For All

I'm not sure what the point was in Ben Smith's article in Politico today, where he seemed to indicate that there's a rift between social conservatives/evengelicals and the Tea Party movement.  Gateway Pundit notes that one of the evengelicals quoted in the piece is actually pro-Obama, which leads me to question his credibility in thinking there's a rift.   But I think Smith is reaching here regardless.  Even this portion struck me as a reach...
It’s easy to overstate the depth of concern on the part of social conservatives. Fischer, Perkins, and other figures were quick to add that they feel an affinity for the tea party movement.

“The reason for it is fundamentally secular, but a lot of people involved in it are not secular,” said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t see the tea party movement as a threat at all — I see it as additional allies and fellow travelers.”

But while Land and other Christians sympathize with the movement’s limited-government focus, they have been repelled by another aspect of the contemporary right: The vitriolic attacks on Obama.

A prominent Atlanta evangelical public relations man, Mark DeMoss, recently wrote Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to denounce as “shameful” a fundraising presentation obtained by POLITICO that advised appealing to “fear” and portrayed Obama as the sinister Joker from Batman, over the word “Socialism” — an image drawn from a poster popular at tea party events.

Land said liberals can be equally faulted for demonizing Sarah Palin, but said that if he were an RNC donor, he’d stop giving.

“What [liberal blogs] do with Sarah is just really unacceptable and dastardly, but that doesn’t mean we should respond in kind,” he said. Obama, he said “provides a tremendously positive role model for tens of millions of African-American men” and “seems demonstrably fond of his wife and children, which is a positive role model for people of all ethnicities.”

Land is free to quit giving to the RNC, but Smith seems guilty of trying to connect the RNC fundraising piece to the Tea Party. Saying that it uses the same iconography of Obama that is popular among some Tea Partiers (pictured here at left) doesn't mean that the attack is mean-spirited, let alone an assault on Obama's character. The RNC may use it in a mean-spirited way (which is part and parcel of politics), but the RNC ain't the Tea Party. Smith himself publishes a quote on his blog from an unnamed conservative strategist who disagrees with the premise of his piece.

I think what Smith is missing (and what the mainstream media misses) is that the Tea Party movement is seperate and apart from the GOP.  It may well be more libertarian than traditionally conservative base of the GOP, but that doesn't mean it is at odds with the socially conservative right.  The large majority of those out there marcghing under the Tea Party banner are passionately opposed to bigger, more intrusive government on economic issues moreso than on social issues -- my impression overall is that they're slightly more conservative on social issues than most Americans, but they don't passionately advocate for those positions the same way that the most social conservatives do.  Just because the two groups may emphasize different issues doesn't mean they're on opposing sides of the issues.  I think the Left would love this to be the case, but right now it's pretty easy for folks in both the socially conservative camp and the Tea Party camp to find common ground -- they don't like the folks in power at present.  They can start worrying about a rift after they've got the power to actually do things in office.

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