5 Best Monday Columns

On the NAACP's Tea Party obsession, the great TARP backlash and the 'New Elite'

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  • Jason Riley on the NAACP's Tea Party 'Obsession'  Given that the Tea Party tends to focus mainly on issues of limited government, it's odd that the NAACP is obsessed with the movement, contends The Wall Street Journal editor. Riley notes that the NAACP recently commissioned a study which found that the Tea Party harbored "racist elements and activities," which he calls a "smear." The only reason that NAACP finds time to "rail against tea party-populism" is because the organization is an "organ" of the Democratic party. The organization "is pretending that the tea party threatens the interests of blacks because the tea party in fact threatens the interests of the Democratic left....unfortunately, this partisan agenda takes priority over the many issues of consequence that confront blacks today."
  • Ross Douthat on the Bailout Backlash  There is nothing this election season that is more unpopular than the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of 2008, argues The New York Times columnist. It was TARP that first turned Tea Partiers against their Republican incumbents and also managed to undermine the president's agenda by making "government seem like a game rigged to benefit privileged insiders." Even though TARP may eventually (and surprisingly) turn a "modest profit" for the federal government, it was the means of the program—using government money to prop up failing private businesses—"not its final impact on the country’s balance sheet, that made it so unpopular." Although TARP "may have saved the United States from 15 percent unemployment" it "did so while doing grievous damage to the credibility of Wall Street and Washington alike."

  • Charles Murray on the Tea Party and the 'New' Elite  The idea that a "new elite has emerged over the past 30 years is not really controversial," observes The Washington Post columnist. This elite, fed by members of America's most prestigious colleges, appears to be based on merit more than on family legacy or wealth. But this idealized view of the situation belies the fact that majority of these "stellar" applicants still hail from the upper-middle class or above. And many of these students, few of which are from rural areas, never leave the "bubble of privelige" that they've been brought up in. This bubble of the privileged extends from college to professional and personal life (marrying "large incomes and genius genes"), which further segregates these citizens. The result is a completely disengaged elite culture from the one that, Murray generalizes, reads Left Behind novels, knows the "famous" Jimmie Johnson and understands the acronym MMA. He concludes: the "New Elite lives in a world that doesn't intersect with mainstream America in many important ways. When the tea party says the New Elite doesn't get America, there is some truth in the accusation."
  • E.J. Dionne on the 2010 'Spending Avalanche' Out-of-control campaign spending has long been a point of concern, observes The Washington Post columnist, but the 2010 midterms have taken those fears into the stratosphere. Of particular concern are attack ads funded by out-of-state special interest monies. Dionne cites last week's New York Times report that "among the 10 top-spending organizations this year, five are Republican-oriented shadow groups. Four others are both parties' formal committees for House and Senate candidates. One is a union." Dionne contends these numbers would be equally alarming if liberal groups were the ones doing the spending. "The partisan dimension should not distract from the larger problem facing American democracy. Secret money is dangerous. Secret money corrupts. Secret money is antithetical to the transparency that democracy requires." Dionne notes that in the past, at least, "money was raised under rules that required disclosure." These new donations, raised under a different part of the tax code, require no such disclosure. It's a situation that should be disheartening to everyone who believes "elections are there to be won, not bought."
  • Michael Barone on the Liberal Historical Miscalculation Democrats are in line for huge losses next week, writes the National Review columnist, a fact that is at least partly attributable to a misguided belief among liberal academics and politicians "that history inevitably and properly moves left" over time. According to this school of thought--encouraged by progressives and New Dealers--big government "helps the ordinary citizen, who is otherwise at the mercy of the masters of the marketplace. And those citizens will be grateful, especially in times of economic distress, to the politicians who expand government ever further." The problem is that after "empirical testing over the past two years," this doesn't seem to be the case. Based on the rise of the Tea Party, voters are rejecting "Obama Democrats" who seem intent on "giving Americans more government, with a vengeance." Barone blames the move from "regulation to deregulation" for the failure of Democrats' "theory of history," as well as the sheer size of the federal government today. "When government is small and deft...a little more of it may help folks," writes Barone. "But when it is big and plodding, as it seems to be now, a lot more of it may just be a dead weight on the private sector economy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.