Paul Krugman reminds me to remind you that the VRWC is still fully operational. In fact you can see it playing out RIGHT NOW in “The Great (Fake) TeaBag Caper“.
[I]t turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.
This is, of course, precisely the technique they used to drown the newspapers of 1983 in letters and demonstrations and (canned) phone calls demanding that they stop “picking on” St Ronnie. Paul may only go back as far as 2000 but I go all the way back to the beginning.
Point is, should you have any doubts about the way the conspiracy operates – or about whether it’s a conspiracy at all – or merely be curious to see it in action, it is happening right now, right here, right in front of us. In the past it was possible for them to deny there was any conspiracy – Viguirie denied for years that he had anything to do with the Reagan astroturf and the proof was all “proprietary” and thus under wraps. Here, it is impossible to miss. The RW is so desperate to convince people it’s still alive that they’re pulling out all the stops.
Free of its protective wrapper, you can see the way Roger Ailes operates as he uses his communications device to invade the public square with phony news stories featuring totted-up media whores and RW flacks ‘n’ hacks posing as angry citizens. The G(F)TBC, like all the “movements” in the history of the VRWC, is strictly top-down stuff, no bottom-up grassrootsing for them – can’t trust the mob to be on-message, you know. They might decide rich folks ought to pay more if you left it to the likes of them. Digby notes the origins of the group that started the TBers on their merry way, FreedomWorks.
Stealing a page from MoveOn.org‘s successful organizing playbook, the leaders of FreedomWorks – a complete merger of the conservative think-tanks Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and Empower America – hope to conduct massive get out the vote and political education campaigns in the swing states on behalf of President George W. Bush.The two groups decided to merge because there was “an overlap in issues between the two organization,” Shawn Small, the Director of Policy at Empower America, told me in a telephone interview. It was an opportunity to bring together Empower America, which Small characterized as a “grasstops” organization driven by such inside the beltway “superstars” as William Bennett, Vin Weber and Jean Kirkpatrick and CSE’s “grassroots” following.
Will FreedomWorks be successful? Maybe, maybe not, but it is sure to be controversial with longtime Republican Party operative Matt Kibbe at the helm.
The leaders of FreedomWorks have all been around the Beltway a number of times. Former House Majority Leader, Texas Republican congressman Dick Armey, C. Boyden Gray, onetime legal counsel to Bush’s father and chairman of the Committee for Justice, an organization about to launch a campaign on behalf of Bush’s right wing judicial appointees, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and failed vice-presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, will serve as the Co-Chairmen of the organization.
That kind of “grassroots” has almost no grass and its roots were all built in a factory using scads of petroleum products.
So if you’re one of those who thought the VRWC was some sort of lefty paranoia, here’s your chance to watch, out in the open, the manipulation we’ve (I’ve) been talking about for 30 years that derailed the once-very-healthy business of journalism. If you’re one of those who suspected or even knew but never actually saw it up-close-and-personal because it always scuffled around in those dark corners and scuttled away whenever a light got turned on, now’s your chance.
It’s kind of fun to watch if you don’t let yourself dwell too much on the fact that its avowed purpose is the destruction of democracy and its replacement by an oligarchy of plutocrats. Other than that, it’s a laff riot.