Earlier this week, a U.S. News & World Report column by Robert Schlesinger added itself to the recent attacks on the Tea Party by Huffington Post, Bloomberg, and Slate. Schlesinger mocked the Tea Party for daring to challenge former Vice President Candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The column doesn’t take long to get to the intellectually dishonest hyperbole:
The tea party movement helped propel the GOP to control of the House in 2010, but at the same time helped prevent the GOP from taking over the Senate that same year by nominating unelectable conservatives like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell. When the movement’s history repeated itself last year, it did so tragically (for the GOP) as tea partyers foisted the likes of Indiana senate nominee Richard Mourdock on the party, costing them another sure-fire Senate win.
This paragraph is laughably wrong. The Tea Party helped the GOP to take the House, with a rate of turnover not seen for over half a century. Six new Republican Senators beat Democratic incumbents or Democratic opponents aiming for an empty Democratic seat, most of them Tea Party-minded and Tea Party-supported candidates.
Sure, the Tea Party didn’t completely carry the GOP by gaining 10 Senate seats. Considering double-digit gains by either party in mid-term Senate elections has happened only twice between 1934 and 2010, Schlesinger’s critique has no basis. With regards to Mourdock, he had won two county-wide elections and two state-wide elections in Indiana before his loss last year, not exactly a long-shot candidate. Furthermore, media manipulations of his social policy comments deeply impacted the race, and the Tea Party as a whole does not focus on social issues.
Schlesinger’s claims also indicate he holds a misunderstanding endemic in the mainstream media – that the Tea Party exists to build up the GOP. In fact, the Tea Party exists to restore constitutional limits in America, free markets, and fiscal responsibility in government. Anyone who thinks the Tea Party does the bidding of Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or Karl Rove needs a tutorial on using Google.
Next, Schlesinger called Rep. Ryan a “conservative icon.” While he was picked to shore up Mitt Romney’s fiscal credentials, in fact the Congressman is not a fiscal conservative. As this blog wrote in July, Congressman Ryan’s voting record is that of someone who is fiscally conservative when it’s politically safe– for example, when the White House’s resident is a Democrat. When George Bush lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Rep. Ryan was happy to vote for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare Drug Bill, multiple wars.
Schlesinger degraded into direct insults near the close of his piece:
It’s been a tough few months for the fringe right. It can’t decide whether to stop immigration reform from passing or try to defund Obamacare, which passed a couple of years ago. As a result, the August recess produced neither an anti-immigration groundswell a la 2007 nor the “tsunami” of defund support Sen. Ted Cruz has said would be needed to derail Obamacare.
Schlesinger clearly ignored most of the article he linked, which noted Congress is hiding from constituents. It’s hard to stop amnesty, delay Obamacare, or both when public officials are too cowardly to face the people who elect them.
The establishment has hated and feared the Tea Party since grassroots Americans created it in February 2009. Schlesinger’s recycled claims are ideological plagiarism, but lock-step smear jobs tend to do that.