The decline of the media’s anti-Tea Party meme


The liberal media’s characterization of Tea Party activists as old, white, angry, racially-biased, conservative extremists constitutes a meme on the decline.

Meme” is a relatively new word. dates the word’s birth as 1976, and identifies its parent as biologist Richard Dawkins.

A meme is “an idea or element of social behavior passed on through generations in a culture, especially by imitation.”

Many political memes concerning President Obama have been created and repeated by liberal media reporters and Democrat pundits.

One such meme is this: Obama is an exceptionally smart man – perhaps the smartest President in American history.

On the Larry King Show before the 2008 election, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo said that Obama represented “a new kind of intelligence”.  Yep, he said that.

Liberal commentators often cite Obama’s Harvard law degree and his election as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law Review as evidence of his extraordinary intelligence.  Few note that Mitt Romney earned a Harvard law degree and a Harvard M.B.A. – at the same time!

And, not since a New York Times article, dated February 6, 1990, has the following been mentioned by the liberal media.

“The new president of the [Harvard Law School] Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago’s South-Side before enrolling in law school.

‘The fact that I’ve been elected shows a lot of progress,’ Mr. Obama said today in an interview. ‘It’s encouraging. But it’s important that stories like mine aren’t used to say that everything is O.K. for blacks. You have to remember that for every one of me, there are hundreds or thousands of black students with at least equal talent who don’t get a chance,’ he said, alluding to poverty or growing up in a drug environment.

On his goals in his new post, Mr. Obama said, ‘I personally am interested in pushing a strong minority perspective. I’m fairly opinionated bout this. But as president of the law review, I have a limited role as only first among equals.’

Mr. Obama said he planned to spend two or three years in private law practice and then return to Chicago to reenter community work, either in politics or in local organizing.

Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review’s 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said.

Until the 1970’s the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank.

The system came under attack in the 1970’s and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.”

Susan Estrich was the first female Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law Review. She received the honor solely on the basis of her grades. Estrich went on to Chair Governor Michael Dukakis’ 1988 Presidential Campaign Committee.

In comparison, Obama was an affirmative action candidate for the law school’s position.

Moving to the Tea Party now…

From the beginning of the Tea Party’s entry onto the American political scene, the liberal media has, with no small success, pushed the meme that Tea Party supporters are old, white, angry, racially-biased, extremists.

Here’s an early illustration of how one liberal outlet, CNN News, promoted the meme on April 15, 2009 when it covered a Tea Party Tax Day event in Chicago.

Then there was that alleged, but never proven, spitting upon a Black Democrat Congressman as the Democrat’s triumphantly marched to the Capital to pass ObamaCare.

MSNBC Chris Matthews played for his audience a race-hate voice mail left by an unidentified male in order to paint the Tea Party movement with the broad brush of being racists.

And so the anti-Tea Party meme was spread, almost daily, by the liberal media.

That went on through the 2010 mid-term elections and then things changed.  What changed was not just the election of many Tea Party-backed candidates, but the liberal media’s attention toward the movement.

As the occasions for Tea Party street events declined, and, as the movement shifted gears and focused on grassroots organizing rather than large street events, the liberal media focused its attention elsewhere. Why did that happen?

The liberal media didn’t respect the Tea Party movement enough to track its organizational evolution.

Former Bill Clinton advisor James Carville spoke for many on the Left when, in a fund-raising letter sent to potential donors to upstate New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s campaign, he declared “the Tea Party is over”.

Carville traffics in hyperbole, but in this case, he represented the hopes of the Left that assumed that, since the frequency of Tea Party street events declined, so had the movement.  What the Left never grasped was the Tea Party was never about street demonstrations.

It was always about (1) raising the consciousness of fellow Americans to the mounting crisis in order to (2) elect officials willing to govern by Tea Party principles in order to save the nation.

Carville got it wrong – if he really meant his words – as did others on the Left for whom he spoke. But there was no rebuttal from the Tea Party. He and those who shared his stated belief were left to believe whatever they wanted to believe about the plans and activities of the movement.

In a sense, the Tea Party went dark – underground, from the perspective of the Left – and the Left became preoccupied with its own street drama called “Occupy Wall Street”.  That circus didn’t play well.

Today, with November 6th roughly a month away, the liberal media is largely void of reports concerning the involvement of the Tea Party in the upcoming election.

And that is a very good thing.