Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Munich Forever

Wondering why David Brooks wonders why the world is the way it is can be a fool's game, and its best left to those with stronger stomachs and intellects than mine.  (See the blogroll, stage left.)  But something in his column today struck me as unintentionally astute:
The big difference is that the protesters don’t believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It’s grievance politics, identity politics.
And why would these Protesters, these Tea Party Republicans, have zero tolerance for compromise and assume negotiation is capitulation and weakness, and if you just stood strong right would win out and the other side would collapse?  Because its been an article of faith in middle-to-right-of-center foreign policy around the world since the Glorious Reagan Revolution that every compromise with a foreign entity is a Chamberlain-in-Munich moment, that everyone who disagrees with you is a bully who thinks you're weak and only wants what they want because they're cynically convinced they can steal a march on you.  And if it works on foreign entities, in the Middle East or Europe or Africa, where dictators only respond to naked displays of will and aggression, well: California sometimes feels like a foreign country, and the Pelosi/Boxer/Feinsten tribunal can't wait to get us into Munich, and willingness to negotiate is a sign of weakness because everything is held on principle.

Brooks and his ilk have encouraged this perspective.  Its hardly operational, though, when you're trying to split the check after dinner.  One gets the sense the Tea Party people are those math-challenged guys who refuse to back down on what they think is fair, because if they backed down on the percentage they've miscalculated, you'd shortly invade their homes and return them to serfdom.  Brooks, then, is the guy encouraging the intransigence, if only to make a point about thrift. 

The rest of us have to cough up the difference so we don't stiff the server.

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