If the shoe doesn’t fit, why does it make you so comfortable?

It’s clearly unfair to lump Republicans together with the Tea Party—says a Republican outraged that anyone would criticize the Tea Party.

Vice President Biden said yesterday that the alternative to President Obama was the “Republican Tea Party.”  A leading Republican senator was outraged. But note how he expressed his outrage:

“I can’t imagine any elected official making fun of people becoming highly involved in the electoral process,” said Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) when asked to comment on Biden’s remarks. “I just don’t see how that’s healthy. And yes, I think people who might criticize people getting highly engaged in the electoral process — I think that’s problematic and I just don’t understand why one would perceive criticizing that to be a good thing” (emphasis in original).

In other words, Corker’s objection to being lumped in with the Tea Party consists in lashing out at, and weirdly portraying as an opponent of all civic engagement, anybody who criticizes the Tea Party.

I can’t think of a tag line for this better than Biden’s: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.

7 thoughts on “If the shoe doesn’t fit, why does it make you so comfortable?”

  1. Yes, I'm sure Corker and the teahadists never managed to criticize all the people who became highly motivated in the electoral process through ACORN activities . . . oh, wait . . . nevermind.

  2. Why the assumption that people who vote for Tea Party candidates are more involved in the electoral process than people who vote for Republican opponents of Tea Party candidates, or for Democrats? And what does "involved in the electoral process" mean? Attending a Glenn Beck rally?

  3. Henry – "involved in the electoral process" means low and middle income whites forking over their cash to to achieve policies that would directly benefit anyone but them.

  4. “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

    One can understand why Biden, being Biden, would say this. One can also understand why comfortably well off liberals would see the statement as a condensation of a winning campaign strategy.

    However, if one looks at those issues on which Biden, the president and many of their Democratic colleagues agree with "the alternative", issues like this and this</a and this and <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/112795-axelrod-obama-remains-opposed-gay-marriage&quot; rel="nofollow">this, the more apt characterization of the dynamic between the two dominant parties is "the lesser of two evils is still evil".

  5. No, he's finding the only thing (tangentially) in Biden's statement that he can object to without upsetting anyone on his side of the aisle. That Biden's comment was about how the Republican's choose to run the government (or not run it) doesn't matter, Corker has managed to couch this back and forth in terms that he is happy to argue about. One of the handy things about picking a smallish number of themes and hammering on them constantly is that the people whom you are talking to know what everything means when you bring it up, whether or not it was the topic being discussed or not.

  6. Putting "Republican" in front of "Tea Party" is brilliant. (That's what Corker didn't like, but couldn't say.) Everyone should do it. All the time. Until nobody can hear the words "Tea Party" without thinking "Republican."

    It's kind of like W putting "September 11th" and "Saddam Hussein" into the same sentence over and over again until half the population thought they were related. Only it would be good instead of evil.

  7. I wonder what the reaction would be if I treated FreedomWorks the way ACORN was treated? Obviously Freedom Works is a terrorist organization engaging in voter fraud and trying to undermine democracy, right?

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