Most important, [Gingrich and Paul] represent two very different endpoints for the Tea Party movement. Paul, for all his crankishness, is the kind of conservative that Tea Partiers want to believe themselves to be: Deeply principled, impressively consistent, a foe of big government in nearly all its forms (the Department of Defense very much included), a man of ideas rather than of party.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is the kind of conservative that liberals believe most Tea Partiers to be – not a genuine “don’t tread on me” libertarian, but a partisan Republican whose unstinting support for George W. Bush’s deficit spending morphed into hand-wringing horror of “socialism” once a Democrat captured the Oval Office….
So Iowa Tea Partiers face a choice. If the town hall crashers and Washington Mall marchers of 2009 settle on a Medicare Part D-supporting, Freddie Mac-advising, Nancy Pelosi-snuggling Washington insider as their not-Romney standard bearer in 2012, then every liberal who ever sneered at the Tea Party will get to say “I told you so.” If Paul wins the caucuses, on the other hand, the movement will keep its honor – but also deliver the Republican nomination gift-wrapped to Mitt Romney.
LET'S start with Romney. I have no idea who, if anyone (besides Mitt Romney), benefits from a Romney campaign. That said, neither your certifiable party, nor the country it supposedly loves so much that other people should die for it, is served by how how he's conducted himself, nor by how that's been met. In 2008 Romney clearly brought a new definition of the world "pander" to national campaigning, which is an accomplishment on par with bringing new meaning to the world "pander" in the field of pandering.
But is Romney condemned for this (or for being a shallow, content-free, Mad Ave candidate with nothing to offer but scads of his own cash)? Of course not. He's condemned by the Republican electorate because the views he used to have don't qualify as True Conservative.
What an amazingly high opinion y'all have of yourselves, especially compared to how little you have to show for it, and the near absence of intellectual development since the days when every American knew what Quemoy and Matsu were.
And y'know, Ross, I love a good David Weigel impression as much as the next guy: "Teabaggers view themselves as principled, non-partisan hewers of oak who openly mock the Republican party's Chip Dispersal Guidelines. And Liberals scoff." Because the fact is that 1) Republicans did support the "Bush" budgets which, in point of fact, should be noted as Republican-, or effective-Republican-controlled Congressional budgets; if the Democrats had controlled the Congress during the Bush years you'd be blaming those deficits on them, the way you tried to do with Reagan (while ignoring the fact that Democratic Congresses in the 80s actually spent less than Reagan proposed); 2) that the "Defense Department included" business will have standing once it means something to anything other than Ron Paul's poll numbers; and 3) ditto with the supra-party jazz, which hasn't caused either Paul to switch allegiances, has it?
This is like saying that British Petroleum believes it is helping the environment, while "critics" complain about its actual record. They're not two ways of looking at data. They are, in reverse order, data, and self-serving bullshit.
I do understand that you, like Weigel, grew up in a cosseted environment where such disputes are supposed to be considered Two Sides of One Coin, so that you can conveniently stamp on unopposed. And I apologize for it. Not that it was my doing. It's just that I missed the chance to gun down Roone Arledge in 1976, and you might've grown up understanding that an argument is something you're required to make.
On the other hand, Ross, nothing excuses taking the Iowa caucuses seriously.