By Michael Barone
January 14, 2010
"Rapturous" is a good word to describe the emotional and mental state of most Zero voters.
Remember those rapturous crowds that swooned at Barack Obama's rhetoric? "We are the change we are seeking," he proclaimed. "We will be able to look back and tell our children" that "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
A lot of style there, but not very much substance. A Brookings Institution scholar who produced nothing more than that would soon be looking for a new job.
In retrospect, the Obama enthusiasts seem to have been motivated by a yearning for a rapturous, nuanced leader. Send that terrible tyrant with his tortured sentences and moral certitude back to Texas and install The One in the White House, and all would be well.
The Obama enthusiasts have achieved that goal, and perhaps it's not surprising that, as polls show, they're not much engaged in the details of the health care bills or cap-and-trade legislation or looming tax increases and the like. They, or at least most of them, were never much interested in those things anyway.
In contrast, the tea party protesters, many of them as fractious and loudmouthed as Brooks thinks, are interested in substantive political issues.
They decry the dangers of expanding the national debt, increasing government spending and putting government in command of the health care sector.
Their concerns have basis in fact. The national debt is on a trajectory to double as a percentage of the economy over 10 years, and the Democrats' health care bills threaten to bend the cost curve up. Higher taxes could choke off economic recovery and keep unemployment up near double-digit rates for years.
Last year's stimulus bill surreptitiously raised the budget baseline for many domestic spending programs and sent money to state and local governments -- a payoff to the public employee unions who spent more than $100 million to elect Democrats in 2008.