I’m rubber, you’re glue…

David Limbaugh (yes, brother of that Limbaugh) has a message for all those liberal-types and namby-pamby conservatives who aren't down with the Tea Party: the more you act like or say that Tea Party Conservatives are extremists, that just shows what an extremist you are. 

I'm surely not the only one who notices the persistent efforts of the leftist establishment and certain establishment Republicans to portray mainstream conservatives, especially those inhabiting the tea party movement, as radicals and extremists. The more they push this theme the more they marginalize themselves.

You see, according to Limbaugh, Tea-Partiers can't be extremists, because they believe in everything that is right and good.  And so, those who hold that the people who believe in all things right and good are extremists must themselves be the real extremists:

They reveal a great deal about themselves when they call "extremists" patriotic Americans who believe in the American ideal, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, originalism, the rule of law, blind justice, equal protection under the law, strong national defense, limiting government to its assigned constitutional functions, the Second Amendment, the nondiscriminatory application of freedom of speech and expression, the free exercise clause, a reasonable — not unduly expansive — interpretation of the establishment and commerce clauses, protection for the unborn, judicial restraint, federalism, the separation of powers, the free market, racial colorblindness, the existence of good and evil in the world, equality of opportunity rather than of outcomes, law and order, immigration control and border protection, motherhood and apple pie.

First of all, anyone who says he believes in apple pie has got to be an extremist, if only because he takes it that in having to avow belief in apple pie, there are people out there who don't.  Who doesn't believe in apple pie?  Anyone?  So who's he up against?   Well, sure, it's a rhetorical flourish… but what on Limbaugh's list isn't?  It's not that anyone in the debate doesn't believe that lower taxes and fiscal responsibility would be great… just if we didn't have to prop up banks that would otherwise drag the country down the drain or find some way to stimulate the economy in a way that doesn't take advantage of the fact that so many are suffering.  Who's against the rule of law, blind justice, freedom of expression and speech, free exercise of religion?  Who doesn't believe in real goods, real evils? Anybody?  Really, it's all a long list of stuff nobody really rejects, well, except Originalism and the stuff about the unborn.  But reasonable people disagree about those things.  Ah, but here's the rub: Tea Partiers have a quick tendency to use terms like 'fascism' or 'tyranny' or 'socialism' or 'communism' to describe those who disagree with them on the details.  That's what makes them extremists — they refuse to acknowledge that those with whom they disagree have good intentions, reasons, a love for their country, and a vision of justice.

Now, here's the problem: if Limbaugh can't see liberals (or even moderate conservatives) as committed to blind justice, free exercise, and fiscal responsibility, too, regardless of how they come down on originalism and abortion, then isn't that the real face of extremism?

9 thoughts on “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”

  1. John,
    I don't think that Tea Partiers are extremists. That's all what David should have argued. Instead he's pulling this silly childish argument.
    As for your words in bold, I think that's a little exaggerated. I know that the Tea Party leaders are trying to distance themselves from all the extremists you are talking about (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36555655/ns/politics-more_politics/).  Are there more than normal extremists present at Tea Party meetings? No doubt. Were there racists and extremist signs at some of their meetings? Yes. You can easily argue that there are more extremists in Tea Party than maybe other groups, but I don't think you can call the whole movement extremists based on that.

  2. Hi BN, My argument wasn't based on the hasty generalization from some people at tea parties have racist and misspelled signage to all people in the tea party are racists who can't spell.  The argument was that the rhetoric of tea partiers, regardless of their overt racism, is a tell: namely, that they don't think the people with whom they disagree believe in justice, the Constitution, and apple pie.  That's what makes them extremists.

  3. Scott, first of all, sorry for the confusion: you're not John 🙂
    I still think the word extremists should be used in moderation. Again, I'm not sure that "they don't think the people with whom they disagree believe in justice, the Constitution, and apple pie."
    They've been doing a bunch of polls on this movement, and so far, I don't think they found any position that they agree on that would qualify them as extremists.

  4. "I think the word 'extremist' shoud be used in moderation."  That's hilarious BN–Jon Stewart quality hilarious.

    And you must be kidding about the "extremist" thing.  See O'Donnell, Christine; Paul, Rand, and all of their other candidates.  Some of their positions (but not all!) are to the right of the Taliban.

  5. So Limbaugh is trying to endear himself to the Tea Party movement, depicting their movement as American as "motherhood and apple pie", and implicitly lending support to the fear-driven propaganda that anybody who opposes them is part of a dangerous "other" that opposes everything America is supposed to stand for? (Er… which Limbaugh are we talking about, again?)
    Yes, David, there's nothing the Republican Party leadership needs more than a purge of everybody who doesn't agree with you. Let's try that.

  6. John,
    While some of their positions are extreme,  some are exaggerations(http://www.factcheck.org/2010/08/sunday-replay-17/). Anyway, my point was not to defend the Tea Party, but rather to just bring up a conversation about this scary word "extreme".  Also, in my opinion, we should avoid comparing them(some of their positions) to Taliban.
    What do people mean when they claim one is an extremist? In my opinion, the term is loaded. It's an ad hominem and an ad populum at the same time. It's an ad hominem because the term is pejorative. It's an ad populum because the term implies one being wrong for not being in agreement with mainstream.
    Aaaah … I think I'm reading too much into this word.

  7. But BN, the first thing to note is that though calling someone an 'extremist' is, as you say, "loaded,"  it does not necessarily mean that it's an abuse of argument.  There's nothing wrong with identifying extremists, so long as you're right and that not all the argument that you have to give.
    Second, it seems like you've not paid attention to the argument I'm giving here, namely, that an important element of extremism isn't just having wacky views, but having a coordinate opinion of anyone who doesn't share those views.  So extremists, contrary to your point about ad populum, can be in the majority without contradiction.
    Now, I'll agree with you that it's a word we should use with caution, but that needn't mean moderation.  If the people you're talking about hold wacky views and correlately refuse to take criticism or alternatives to their views seriously, then they are extremists.  It may hurt their feelings, but, you know, that's what comes with having views.

  8. Thanks for the explanation, Scott!
    That was the definition I was looking for. I think your nailed it. It's the combination of wacky views and refusal to listen to other opinions. 

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