Wikileaks and the Tea Party

One side effect of the Wikileaks controversy is how it’s fracturing the Tea Party movement. On the one hand, Ron Paul recently tweeted his support for Wikileaks:

Re: Wikileaks – In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.

He elaborated in a column here:

At its core, the Wikileaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media, along with neoconservatives from both political parties, insist on asking the wrong question. When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead, the media focus on how so much sensitive information could have been leaked, or how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.

With which I agree in full. And, as my friend Ed Brayton noted, Tea Party-sympathetic columnist Larry Klayman also has good things to say about the group, even if I don’t think his analysis is frankly worth all that much. Still, Wikileaks gets support.

On the other hand, a prominent Tea Party group has called for the assassination of Julian Assange, and others have made similar noises. As Sarah Palin said of him, “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

So which one is it? Heroically exposing the misdeeds of the Democrats, the neoconservatives, and the military-industrial complex? Or hurting American interests abroad? The Tea Party never has been much more than a very loose oppositional movement, and Wikileaks is one of the first issues that challenged it to say something more than “no” to whatever the Democrats wanted. Already, they’re having trouble keeping together.

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23 thoughts on “Wikileaks and the Tea Party

  1. I have a friend who is (was?) a reporter on the East Coast. We got into an argument over “Freedom of the Press”.

    She argued to me that “the Press” meant journalists and newspapers and reporters and associated hangers-on. I argued that it meant “speech that was written down, maybe mass produced”.

    I haven’t asked her about this topic yet but I am emotionally preparing myself for a “the Fathers could not have foreseen…” speech culminating in a “so, of course, the First Amendment doesn’t mean *THAT*” finale.

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      • Liberals have divided into factions on this issue too (when do they not). Some are pissed, though I’m not sure whether it’s because there’s a Democrat in the White House, and some have been supportive, even excited, about Wikileaks generally.

        It’s also important to keep in mind that Wikileaks releases a lot of different kinds of information, and it’s possible to think of it as both good and bad.

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  2. “trouble keeping it together?” I dunno that might be a bit of a stretch. I have a ‘feeling’ that this or any other secondary issue isn’t going to present much of a problem to the TP movement. But, hey maybe I’m wrong..we’ll see!
    I have noticed that the TP GOP House members aren’t even seated yet and our Kenyan-Marxist president is surpassing George Bush in his noble deeds and his new found concern for the economy.

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  3. My bad!
    So let’s do “trouble keeping together.” I’m assuming you mean the nebulous, leaderless Tea Party ‘movement?’
    Again, while I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m thinking that these folks are going to keep the TPGOP House member’s nose to the grindstone even engaging in internecine war if necessary. Of course it’s possible they might be deflected by secondary issues, but I’ll have to see to believe it.

    BTW, if you leftists at Cato hire paleos just to keep/get your blood flowing, I’d like to apply for a part-time job. I’m pretty sure I can aggravate maybe up to a half dozen of you people at a time and I can go on and on about derailed, corrupt, and perverse statist ‘commie-Dems!’

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  4. One of the the things I like about the concept of Wikileaks is having organizations dedicated to preventing propaganda, keeping the State on its toes knowing that someone is watching. I think a lot of people are going to have re-evalaute this concept in the Information Age to understand that a free flow of information can be good — my only concern is that an organization like Wikileaks can begin violating the privacy of private users just for the sake of acessing and disseminating information, or to try to ruin/silence political enemies — I guess some code of ethics is needed, and if players violate the ethics, then they can be exposed and excoriated for acting badly.

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    • Alternatively, we could start thinking about what exactly it is that “privacy” is meant to protect, and ask ourselves why it is that we’re so worried about this behavior that we want to hide it and pretend like it isn’t happening.

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  5. I’m actually not sure whether Ron Paul has ever been anything more than a fringe figure in the Tea Party movement. I think the media has lumped together the grassroots support for Paul and the grassroots hatred of Obama that is the Tea Party, but the two groups really have little in common. Paul supporters tend to be young (mostly Gen Y), relatively independent, fairly areligious skeptical of Obama, and very tech-savvy. Tea Partiers are older, wealthier, Christian, and boomers.

    Rand Paul seemed to bridge some sort of gap between the two groups, and quite loudly at that, and at some sort of local maximum of Tea Party media hype, so conflating the two groups has become relatively widespread. Joshua Green’s recent Atlantic article on Paul (full of misinformation and inaccuracies) sealed the deal that the two movements were indistinguishable, but Ron Paul and Sarah Palin have very little in common politically, and their being diametrically opposed to each other on this WikiLeaks issue shouldn’t be surprising.

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    • Actually, the Tea Party started with Ron Paul’s campaign, and then the GOP realized that hitching it’s bandwagon to a pure anti-government movement was useful when they were suddenly out of power and the “government” is now purely controlled by their rival party. Put them back in control and you can expect the Tea Party to be ditched like last year’s model.

      The funny thing is, the Tea Party likes to talk a lot about revolution and hatred of the government, but when an organization actually takes the first actual step in that direction, American exceptionalism clogs their internal cognitive dissonance recognition software.

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  6. I never took the Tea Party to be other than 90-99% Republicans who figured out that rebranding was a good idea, and that now that they were (somewhat) out of power it was time to switch from ‘America(n government) – like it or leave it!’ to ‘I love my country but fear my government’. So this doesn’t surprise me – what does is that the percentage of abysmal presstitution in the press has gone from 90% to 99%+. It’s amazed me, and I thought that I was beyond amazement in my cynicism.

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    • While I got that most Tea Party folks were Republicans, I didn’t get that they were cynically trying to rebrand but were naively trying to “take back the party” after realizing that Bush traded their birthrights for a mess of pottage (bless their hearts).

      Remember “The Truman Show”?

      At the end of the movie when Truman is tossing and turning in the boat and the guy is in the bathtub yelling “COME ON TRUMAN! COME ON TRUMAN!”?

      The Tea Parties are like Truman except Truman’s going to die because Cristof is going to kill him.

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  7. Many conservatives are staunchly opposed to wikileaks and its acts of publishing the diplomatic cables and war logs. But I am at a loss to understand why. These same conservatives want a smaller, less powerful government that minimally interferes in the affairs of others, a transparent government that is more accountable for their actions. But the same conservatives are the first to leap to the defense of the embarrassed big government! Isn’t this what the “leftists” should be doing in the conservative world-view?

    This is all so deliciously amusing.

    These conservatives have revealed themselves to hypocrites. They are internally inconsistent. They used to claim they were all for freedom of information and government transparency until this all happened. They used to claim that the liberals were defenders of a big opaque unaccountable government. That is what the conservatives are defending now.

    It seems to me that these conservatives are supporters of big unaccountable governments, provided that these governments are pushing a neo-conservative agenda. Their double-speak has caught up with them in the most embarrassing way.

    So what do conservatives really stand for? It really seems to be as simple as this: inertia. They just don’t want their world to go through rapid changes. They don’t want to change their viewpoints, as they are forced to when drastic changes like this occur. They abandon their ideology which they normally defend with a religious fervour when quick changes occur in the order of things.

    In response to the social tipping point I say “viva the revolution”!

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