Is The Tea Party Really All About Alger Hiss?
Published on: November 2, 2013
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  • Ooga Booga

    This was a great post up until the last sentence.

    • Corlyss

      I thought the last sentence was a tad . . . um . . . unedited. Seemed incoherent to me.

  • Ooga Booga

    Opposition to Obama’s “masterful plan” seemed to come from all sides. Move On was against it. The international Left (see Ed Miliband) was largely against it. The Tea Party was against it. A number of elitist liberals in my circles were sharing Putin’s NYT op-ed on Facebook. And as we all know by now, even Obama himself wasn’t so into it.

  • jeburke

    While the Tea Party has nothing in particular to do with the Hiss case, Sunstein might be on the right track in looking to the politics of that late 40s-1950s period for its roots. That was when “establishment” Republicans solidified control of the post-New Deal, post-war GOP with the nomination and election of Eisenhower in a triumph over the Old Guard candidate, Robert Taft, at the 1952 convention. Ike’s nomination was no slam dunk but was hotly contested, and many in the Old Guard were deeply embittered by their loss.

    This intra-party conflict was, of course, related to many of the better-remembered, high-profile issues of that time — the “loss” of China, the Soviet bomb, the unpopular war in Korea, Truman’s firing of MacArthur, the Rosenberg case, the Hiss case, etc. — but it was a good deal more. The Old Guard and Taft’s agenda could very neatly be taken up word for word by the Tea Party. It was both a reaction against 20 years of expansive New Deal-Fair Deal liberalism with a call for a return to smaller government, lower taxes and balanced budgets, and a reaction against the renewed large-scale US “engagement” in foreign affairs exemplified by rebuilding the armed forces, the UN, the Marshall Plan, NATO and the Korean war. Ike had no interest in rolling back popular New Deal programs and by and large embraced the need for US global leadership (although not with the militaristic fervor some of his Democratic successors would show).

    The Old Guard also drew its support mainly from the same regions and demographic groups as the Tea Party — the Plains and the West — with the later switch of party loyalty by Southern conservatives as the major difference.

    The Old Guard never went away. During the Eisenhower years, they mostly toed the line, although some angry extremists drifted off into the irrelevancy of the John Birch Society. The Goldwater rebellion against Rockefeller-Romney-Nixon-Lodge control of the party

    • jeburke

      As for the Hiss case, in retrospect, we know from the Venona files and Soviet archives that Hiss was a GRU spy. From the perspective of, say, Dean Acheson, in 1948, it may not have been so obvious (let’s remember that Hiss was removed from his job at State due to suspicions about his loyalty). Chambers was not exactly an angel or a prosecutor’s model witness. After all, he was himself a Communist and confessed Soviet spy who had been controlled by the GRU station chief in the US, making him a defector whose word for anything would have been foolish to accept without added proof. He also admitted to lying to the HUAC, and perhaps not incidentally, given the mores of those times, he was a bisexual, married but also fond of crusing at night to pick up homosexual partners.

      If you were Adolph Berle or Dean Acheson, would you be inclined to believe Chambers over Hiss in the absence of clear-cut proofs of Hiss’s guilt? Maybe.

      • If it were today Chambers’ disabilities would be the most loudly trumpeted virtues. Forward.

  • wigwag

    Professors Sunstein and Mead are both obviously intelligent but their essays surprisingly share something in common; they are both uncharacteristically, incoherent. Even worse than that; they’re trivial. They miss the forest for the trees.

    Neither Sunstein nor Mead bother to point out that ultimately Alger Hiss emerged victorious. Yes, it is now widely acknowledged that he was guilty of perjury (for lying about his Communist affiliation) but nobody cares. His most vitriolic adversaries, on the other hand, have met a far more unpleasant fate. Joseph McCarthy may be the single most detested political figure in American history; his sur name has become an adjective connoting fascism.

    Sunstein doesn’t mention the other major adversary that Hiss confronted (and Mead barely does); a first term congressman from California named Richard Nixon.

    If McCarthy is the most reviled political figure in American history, Nixon is surely the most disgraced. Those old enough to remember Nixon’s famous assertion, “I am not a crook” couldn’t help but smile at how the tables had been turned on the one time HUAC member who had once tormented Hiss.

    But that’s only part of the story; the ultimate victory for Alger Hiss was the fact that the kind of society that he and his fellow travelers wanted for the United States ultimately came to pass first with the New Deal and later with the Great Society. The kind of society that Joe McCarthy and Republican opponents of the New Deal wanted, died forever.

    The ultimate irony in all of this is that when he was finally elected President in 1968, Richard Nixon had abandoned most of his conservative ways and advocated one progressive policy after another. The ultimate vindication for Hiss and his liberal inclinations was Richard Nixon’s admission “we are all Keynesians now.”

    Professor Mead is right about one thing, periodic populist temper tantrums are a perennial feature of American history. The current antics of the Tea Party are merely one more manifestation of a generations long Yankee and Cowboy War. In the end, the Cowboys always lose; they always will.

    The great irony of today’s Tea Party tantrum is that the only thing it is doing is succeeding in pushing the country further and further to the left. Democrats control the United States Senate largely thanks to the Tea Party insurgency and Democrats have won the popular vote for the Presidency for 6 out of the last 7 elections. If Professor Mead thinks the Benghazi Affair gives Rand Paul or Ted Cruz any chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016, I would love a puff of what he’s smoking.

    Thanks to the Tea Party the GOP is hemorrhaging the votes of young people and it’s alienating Latinos, the fastest growing ethnic cohort in American history. While the GOP does better with older voters, those older voters were particularly annoyed at the Tea Party induced Government shutdown.

    How is the Tea Party moving the country to the left? It’s making the term “conservative” a four letter word amongst vast swaths of the electorate, it’s alienating a huge number of ethnic voters who might otherwise be induced to share its values, it’s motivating women to dislike the GOP more than they already did and it’s delivering the Presidency into the hands of the Democrats for what could be another decade.

    Even worse; the Tea Party is giving the Democrats license to move further to the left. The Democratic inclination to adopt the most leftist position possible was once held in check by the fact that the GOP offered voters a reasonable alternative. With the lunatics in charge of the GOP asylum, Democrats can now move far to the left and still seem reasonable to an electorate horrified by the crazies in the GOP.

    Professor Mead says Tea Party populists are not stupid. He may be right. But whether or not they are stupid, their tactics surely are.

    Wherever it is that his soul resides, Alger Hiss is getting the last laugh.

    • Corlyss

      Don’t bet on ANY Peter Beinart’s analysis. He’s another elite media useful id*ot.

    • Good comment in support of the Oppressor Class POV.

    • wigwag

      The story that should be dominating Professor Mead’s attention is: the money. That’s right, while he and Cass Sunstein are titillated by how a dead communist can somehow be tied to the Tea Party, neither of them has even noticed the most profound impact the Tea Party is having; its alienating the GOP’s sugar daddies.

      As if alienating tens of millions of women, Latinos, African Americans, Jews, Asians and young people wasn’t bad enough, the Tea Party is destroying the relationship between the GOP and the one group it can’t win without; the rich.

      Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have already made major inroads into the GOP’s wealthy donor base; by the time the Tea Party finishes its work and fades into oblivion, almost all of our nations business leaders and big time bundlers will be Democrats.

      Novices tend to underestimate the importance of money in politics, but at the Presidential level, money trumps everything else. Since 1960 there have been 14 presidential elections. The Candidate/campaign that outraised their opponent won 10 of those elections.

      The only four candidates who raised less money than their opponents and won were all Democrats. Kennedy raised less than Nixon and won and Johnson trounced Goldwater despite raising less money. Carter beat Ford who raised slightly more and Clinton won a second term despite raising less than Dole.

      Since 1960 how many Republican Presidential nominees have been elected after being outraised by their Democratic opponent? The answer is zero.

      With the exception of the Johnson-Goldwater race if one candidate outraised his opponent by more than ten percent that opponent has been elected exactly never.

      Those who are interested can find the data here,

      The Tea Party is even more antagonistic to the wealthy business oriented donors who have funded the GOP for years than the kooky left is. Clinton and Obama have already proven that Democrats can attract huge amounts of money from donors who used to support Republicans. The Tea Party is pushing those critical donors right into the arms of the Democrats.

      Without those donors Republicans cannot win the Presidency. What do you think Professor Mead; do you think Hillary Clinton just might outraise Ted Cruz or Rand Paul by more than ten percent?

      While you’re perseverating on Benghazi and Alger Hiss, you are missing the story hiding in plain sight.

      The Tea Party is destroying the GOP.

      • Bruce

        Considerable big money backs Dems. Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates etc. The big money that backs the Repubs also wants something in return, just as the Dem big money does. The establishment GOP needs to be ruined. NEVER forget what happened when Bush had the House and Senate. Spending rose faster than ever under all Republican government.

        • wigwag

          The problem with your theory, Bruce, is that if you get your wish and the establishment GOP is “ruined” it won’t empower the Tea Party; Americans revile the Tea Party. The only people who will be empowered are Democrats who will be free to move our country further and further to the left.

          • ruralcounsel

            Maybe in your slice of America, but I think you may have a confirmation bias going.
            DHS isn’t stockpiling ammo because they think the populist movement is miniscule.

          • Last poll I saw had Obamaism and TEA Partyism tied at 42%. And that was weeks ago.

      • Anthony

        WigWag, key, key qualifier (regarding electoral politics):”novices tend to underestimate the importance of money in politics.”

        • wigwag

          Anthony, there is a real irony that is rarely mentioned; the Democrats support campaign finance reform while Republicans oppose it. Every time the Supreme Court overturns a restriction on political donations Republicans cheer while Democrats wail.

          The irony is that Democrats are becoming far better political fundraisers than Republicans are. It’s true for traditional campaign donations, PAC expenditures and independent expenditures.

          As the Tea Party continues to expand its reach and continues to drive former GOP donors into the arms of Democrats, it is the GOP that will end up wishing that limits on political expenditures had been upheld and Democrats who will be thrilled that they can raise as much political money as they want.

          The GOP is so screwed.

          • ronchris

            The dem’s are getting more money because the ultra-rich see the increasing power of the fascist state and are buying into it.

      • ruralcounsel

        And the GOP deserves to be destroyed, since they’ve proven to offer nothing other than a low-speed version of Progressivism.
        The proper goal is not to support a party, but to restrict a government. When the party fails to achieve the goal, it needs to be abandoned. The GOP has proven to be the wrong tool for the job at hand.

        • Right, why invest those who have ‘made their peace’ with the New Deal (in KHammer’s phrase) with power especially when the New Deal is in meltdown? The Reps are commies with more accurate figures, but not by much. There is plenty of demolition on the agenda and the RNC types are not part of the solution which, btw, they demonstrate with their existential hostility to the TEA movement. They fired first on their own trenches. It’s time to fight to the rear.

      • RCPreader

        Wigwag, I am certainly no novice, and I will say that novices tend to OVERestimate the importance of money. Money is important, but the candidate who seems more likely to win tends to attract more money. Between this fact and the fact that there are many many cases (though not in general presidential elections) of a grossly underfunded candidate winning, one should not assume that money is all-important.

        More generally, you have to ask if your priority is the GOP, or your priority is conservatism, and if you are playing for the short-term or for long-term cultural change. If you are a GOP Establishment type whose top priority is maximizing the likelihood of the GOP raising the most money in 2016, it does in fact make sense to abhor the Tea Party. But, if an immediate win for a non-conservative, corporate-backed party is not your top priority, you may feel otherwise.

        The fact is that if the Dems do in fact become the mega-corporation party (as they are quickly headed), this will impact on the Democratic party and on public perception of them — and hence of the alternative party — over the long-term. Nothing is static.

  • wigwag

    And meanwhile, back in the real world while wonks like Sunstein and Mead obsess about Alger Hiss, they are missing the story that’s hiding in plain sight. The Tea Party inanity is the same old same old, that will end up having only a minor effect on American history while a major social trend goes unnoticed; the dramatic rise of a new left.

    While I take no pleasure in it, American politics are about to take a sharp left turn. Tuesday’s mayoral election in New York is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

    While Professor Mead misses the story, Peter Beinart doesn’t.


    • Corlyss

      Gee. How did my comment to this Waggish post end up under the other Waggish post? Oh well, I can’t move it or delete it.

    • ronchris

      New left = same as old left: elect me and I’ll take that other guy’s stuff and give it to you.

  • Corlyss

    Sunstein’s an a**. IOW he’s a perfect representative of his several tribes: wired, intellectual, academic elite, the kind of guy Roosevelt and Kennedy would’ve had on their staffs, where he would have dined with power brokers and shapers of the next 50 years. All he got was Val Jarrett, and she didn’t let him stay very long.

    “Well, for one thing, the liberal establishment stood by its man.”

    They still do. No amount of evidence will dent their Article of Faith that he was an innocent brought low by the paranoid rabble unfit to tie his shoes. The same is true about the left’s refusal to believe the Rosenbergs were guilty, or their indifference to facts substantiating Tailgunner Joe’s claims about Communist spies in State and Defense, which turned out to be far more extensive than he ever dreamed. You can’t prove false religious beliefs.

    “liberals are the victims here”
    What a shock! A familiar liberal trope bleeds thru another fantastic screed against the Tea Party. You gotta love something that is as reviled as the Tea Party – there must be something there.

  • “[A]rguably, without unqualified Tea Party-backed candidates, the GOP would now have control of the Senate” — let’s talk realpolitik. Are you talking about Akin? That race had several turns, affected by multiple primary candidates. And the libertarian opponent can perhaps best be seen as a Tea vote.

    Dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and power in general is a bigger driver of the Tea Party than the types of oddities highlighted by a deeply corrupt and deeply biased media. And then there’s abortion: imagine if the media, for a day, held pro-choice politicians to the standards of pro-life morality, rather than the other way around, which is the unnoticed yet vigorous default.

    Open primary races are open primary races. It is far more judicious to attribute the Republicans’ failure to take the Senate on Party Republicans, not the Tea Party.

    Otherwise, it’s nice to see an actual effort to understand this movement, which is really the most interesting thing I’ve ever witnessed . . . as it were.

    • The very notion of ‘qualification’ for office is on its head and has long been. ‘Qualiication’ seems to mean one has been in office before and not been indicted. If indicted, not convicted. And if convicted, produced a gauzy memoir on the ordeal. What we need are DISqualified people making the case that only such a person can be even marginally likely to do in office what they promised to do in their campaign. Jackson is a pretty good template but who recalls his existence?

    • S P Dudley

      it should be noted that Akin was practically picked by his opponent. His campaign actually received indirect funding from McCaskil’s camp and pushed him over his Tea-Party affiliated opponent Steelman. Then Akin dropped that horrible bomb on himself shortly after winning the primary. Because of MO’s “sore looser” law Steelman was unable to run as a write-in and McCaskill cruised to victory.

    • SandMan00

      It is worth noting that the unsophisticated so-called Tea Party candidates emerged for a reason, that being the complete disregard of grassroot demands for action on issues of importance to them on the part of Establishment Republicans. Much as ERs would like to strangle the life out of the TP movement, they cannot do so without also losing the votes of those people. And they cannot win without them. Until the powers-that-be in the GOP can reconcile themselves to the need to show this movement some respect, and provide a meaningfule place at the table for them, I expect these insurgency candidacies to keep erupting.

  • Peripatetic

    Isn’t Cass very gently chiding the liberals for whom he is writing this piece? I think he’s making an argument by analogy: the Chambers crowd was motivated by a truth which elite liberals could not comprehend; the tea party resembles the Chambers crowd; ergo…

    • RCPreader

      Without question! I liked the Sunstein piece, because it was a surprisingly honest assessment from a lib. (Some posters here (who probably didn’t read it) seem to think it was a left-wing diatribe.) But I felt, like WRM, that it was ridiculous for him to assert that what we are seeing now was “caused” by the Hiss case. I think he was just looking for a “hook” to justify a column on the Hiss case.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Democrats and establishment Republicans that are attacking the TEA Party, want more power, and to retain the power they already have, and see the TEA Party as a threat to that, they are correct. When the TEA Party finishes taking power, it will return the Federal Government to its Constitutional Limits, and will return all the authorities the Feds have stolen to the States and to the People. The Democrats and establishment Republicans that have been corrupted by power, will see its distribution back to the states and people, and weep.
    That’s the plan anyway, if it gets implemented America will see another 200+ years of leadership of mankind, if not then say hello to the Darkages 2.0.

    • Bruce

      Those that attack the TP as extreme are extreme. $17 trillion in debt is extreme. Yet those who are trying to contain this bankruptcy get called the E word. Amazing.

      • USNK2


        I add to Jacksonian-Libertarian and Bruce comments on the TaxedEnoughAlready movement: has anyone asked how many voted for Ross Perot in 1992?
        He did get 19% of the popular vote.

        That faction is enraged that we just spent twelve years creating nothing of consequence except mountains of more debt, at every level of government.

        and then there is the cohort who thought being Cub Scouts and Brownies; then Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts,
        was cool. That cool about 1966.

        • A regular basis? Come on. It ain’t the Torah.

        • gitarfan

          When you choose not to associate with people who oppose your views, you have no idea who they really are. We get to see these ‘liberal elites’ on weekend news programs on a regular basis. We know who they are and what they stand for. The reverse will never happen.

    • In Va the Rep Est has done exactly jackshite to either aid Cuccinelli or impede MacAuliffe. The RINO herd, as much as the SEIU, see their prosperity tied to a growing Leviathan. And they ain’t wrong. Likewise in NJ where Lonegan got not one thin dime from the Senate Reps. It is not Democrats vs Republicans. It is those who pay the bills vs those who bill. One side needs the other. The reverse is not true.

  • thrasymachus02

    Sunstein is a very smart and perceptive man, here as with his recent article on the threat that organizing among non-elite white represents to the establishment. The truth is the Hiss case was maybe not the first, but maybe the most grotesque example of the real attitudes and beliefs of the liberal establishment. The Hiss case showed, and shows, that the liberal establishment- which is to say the establishment- are crass, two-faced liars.
    Karl Barth stated the liberal attitude towards communism succinctly when he said that while he didn’t live in a communist country, it was a good force elsewhere, that Stalin was a great man, and anti-communism was worse than communism. US liberals couldn’t say that, of course, because many of the boobuosie didn’t like communism.

  • Anthony

    “It is customary in the public prints, as part of the lofty centrist stand, to portray rightist and leftist as extremists of various degree.” But, the incontestable fact is that both segments are irked by something they view as political (economic). Yet, the irksome field (as WigWag adumbrates below) has been thoroughly plowed in U.S. history. Moreover, WRM’s essay brings into focus a revelatory perspective on contemporary American politics.

    To me, the unspoken framework behind Hiss/Sunstein/Tea party/liberal elite polemic is not only class differences but also weltanschuung – competing viewpoints relative to American culture (political and economic as subtext) and how to not let culture squeeze my interests. On one hand big government and big business benefit at expense of individualists, libertarians, entrepreneurs, etc. and on the other hand the status quo is maintained through elite manipulation via cultural reforms (technocratic involvement of the great and the good) which may foster both grievance and resentment (though no actual diminishment may occur). An implication follows: opposing (and sometimes strident) sides. So on one level, essay reformulates historical differences regarding aims of a free people – as interpreted.

  • free_agent

    You write, “when Andrew Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams’ re-election bid in
    1828, the 19th century forerunners of the Tea Party were in full cry”.

    Jackson’s success was a cultural phenomenon, but one should also remember that it was an economic one: The US was hemmed in and had a growing population, putting the ownership of land out of range of more and more of the population. Jackson proposed the eminently simple solution of abrogating the treaties with the Indians of the (now) southeastern US, opening up a lot of cheap land to people who couldn’t otherwise own a farm. Jackson won, the Trail of Tears was committed, 100 years of US Indian policy was set, perhaps the greatness of the US was produced, and we are left with a culture where the economic interests of, not the poor, but the lower middle classes drive a lot of politics.

    One of the consequences of the intellectual isolation of the intellectual left is that they aren’t aware when their preferred policies run against the economic interests of less elite people. Certainly this is the case with trying to restrict CO2 emissions — that’s very hard to do without turning it into a war against manufacturing. I also suspect it is true regarding the residual issues of feminism and the sexual revolution (especially the abortion war), but I’ve never seen an analysis that tracks down the socio-economic effects driving that debate.

    • robin hood in reverse

      Models, templates, and people systems make the difference and our founding fathers were difference makers. I would love to help a present day Andrew Jackson make the argument for freedom once and for all.

      Second place is the first place loser but a peek is worth ten free market estimators Reverse auction bid results can be turned into a low bid equation with a variance that looks something like this:

      Low Bid = (95% – 1% times the number of bidders) times the average bid

      Companies play free market basketball on a diving board because a company can’t maximize their profits if the company hits more often than the dummy. A 5% drop in price is usually enough to jump to 15% higher overall hit rate. Government is a slam dunking monopoly that has proven to be 20% more expense than the free market. Socialism, Fascism, Marxism, Statism, etc. is four scarcity leaps backwards and corresponds with Carman’s and Kenneth’s findings.

      A Harvard Professor and previous President of IMF wrote a book called “This Time is Different” . Carman Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff studied fiscal crisis in 65 countries over 500 years. 1% GDP reduction in taxes increases private sector 3% in GDP. 1% GDP increase in Government Spending deceases private sector 1.2% GDP with a -0.2% change in GDP. Obviously a great deal of government debt can put a country at significant interest rate risk.

      If we go from a 38% tax rate to 20% tax rate with a balanced budget the private sector will grow from $11 Trillion to over $16 Trillion. Tax revenue won’t decrease 48%. Tax revenue will only decrease 24%. Half of Washington won’t have to go on a permanent vacation, only one out four. Employment will increase 25% so displaced bureaucrats will have lots of new opportunities to contribute to society.

      If we get down to a balanced 10%, $20 Trillion – more than a 60% increase in jobs if half of Washington goes on a permanent vacation, each dollar earned buys ($0.90/$0.62) 45% more, and hard America becomes a soft warm place.

      John Nash’s beautiful mind recognized the importance of interactions in which the results of one person’s choices depend not only on his own behavior but also on the choices of another person. There is a related game called Ultimatum. You and your partner split $10. Less than $3 deals disgust and anger. The dealer has a pulpit.

      The Laffer effect is no joke. Charles Adams, an international tax attorney and historian, wrote books on taxes. Once tax rates rise above the disgust and anger point, the expected extra tax revenue never shows up. A flat tax system is part of Constitution. Everyone has to pay taxes to keep as many people’s tax rate below the disgust and anger tax rate or make sure an overwhelming majority is disgusted with high taxes.

      Carman, Kenneth, John, and yours truly believes dealers can routinely get an $8 to $10 deal by getting his or her partner work for a $3 to $5 deal. With each $3 to $5 of earned success the partner becomes a dealer that turns the $3 to $5 deal into $6 to $8 of earned success. Turning $10 into $13 is a win-win systemic solution that creates good people, great outcomes, and durable trust but when it rains, rainmakers show up and turn everything to dirt.

      There will always be zero-sum losers who just accept less than $3 deals and think the key to success is being an abusive dealer. A $7-$3 deal isn’t better than a $6-$4 deal because $7-$3 deals turn into $6-$2, $5-$1, and $4-two bit deals. Rainmakers turn everything to dirt because they feel entitled to $7up and someone else has to pay for the diet $7up.

      Obama and company’s overall 30% to 40% tax and spend policies have systemically increased the public sector by 25% and eliminated 10 million private sector jobs. For the first 150 years of our existence, we were 10% tax and spend country. Present day Switzerland, Russia, and much of Eastern Europe are 15% tax and spend countries.

      I can’t taste the difference between Wilson and Barack vegetable oil. The Federal Reserve was created on Jekyll Island and Obama is the Prince of Hyde Park. A famous Central Banker said something like “If I control the money supply, I care not for your laws”. If debt is money that can only be paid off with more money …. someone ends up owning everything and everybody.

      Our founding fathers promoted the species (Gold and Silver) because a stable money supply is key to creating an innovative middle class and responsive Government.

      If we go back to the system our founding fathers came up with the bottom 99% end up two to three times better off and everyone is better off over the course of two or three decades.

  • Frank Gallagher

    I like reading WRM, and I wish we were governed more along the lines of his recommendations. I also wish the Tea Party was as he thinks it is. But this is a characterization that can only come from a media elite more or less totally disconnected from the American body politic as it actually exists. A majority (don’t have the figures in front of me, but believe it’s greater than 2 to 1 for all these) of the Tea Party believes 1 Obama’s a secret Muslim who hates Christians; 2 He is not an American citizen; 3 He is a socialist bent on establishing a Socialist state. Many of the Tea Partiers I know believed he was planning an armed take over of the country before the last election. The idea that this is primarily a philosophical movement is just . . . words fail me. Maybe in New York. Come to Texas. The ones that read you don’t like you. You’re an apologist. You don’t see the real danger. The tinfoil hat crowd is probably close to 30% of the American public. You should get out more.

    • Stacy Garvey

      Don’t have the figures in front of you? I sincerely doubt that your assertions are true, so I challenge you to produce the missing “figures”.

      Words fail me.

    • One of these things is not like the other. Clearly Obama is a socialist bent on establishing a socialist state. As for his religion, it is unlikely that he has one other than secular humanism. Who claims he is not a citizen? No one. The allegation is that he is NOT a Natural Born Citizen and he is not regardless of his birthplace. His father was never a citizen. And even if his illegitimacy renders that moot, he was adopted by his stepfather gaining Indonesian citizenship, voiding forever his Natural Born status, if any.

    • teapartydoc

      You need help with your paranoia. And your delusions of intelligence.

  • lhfry

    Many on the left still claim Hiss was innocent – framed by right-wingers. They argue that the evidence provided by the Venona tapes is unreliable. Note too, that my son’s political science professors at a leading Virginia university taught this line and unfortunately, my son, a dedicated Obama supporter, believes it. Since no real history is taught at most universities today except through the prism of race, class, and gender, that many young people can be misled by ideologues should come as no surprise.

    • Aces and Eights

      We used to farm, but we don’t do that anymore. Then we worked in factories, but we don’t do that anymore either. Now I guess we’re “knowledge workers” in the “paperless offices” of our “information economy”. We’re a nation of marketers and advertisers… or *something.*

      I think it’s going to be funny watching the academics and other lefties try to make sandwiches of their propaganda, or keep the lights running and the toilets flushing with their hot air, bigotry and lies. 🙂 The laughter will keep me warm and jolly at night while I’m hungry.

  • HW

    Interesting article until his tin foil hat comments when the author can explain the administration’s obviously pro-Islamist actions and anti-Christian actions then I will finish reading article.

  • circleglider

    “[T]he Great and the Good” are lots of thing. But the one that they most certainly aren’t is liberal.

    • ThomasD

      They ruined that word, as they have ruined countless others. just look at what they are attempting to do to the notion of rights with all their talk of ‘positive rights of government’ – an oxymoron if there ever was.

  • teapartydoc

    I’ll lay it out for you, Walter. Sunstein is right, but not in the ways he thinks. He still thinks he’s superior, but his article hints at something us Tea Partiers get, but the elites don’t. Anyone who has read Witness and In the court of Public Opinion can see easily that Chambers was infinitely more talented than the silver-spooned Hiss. But yet all the right people backed Hiss and assumed he was superior in some way to Chambers. That “some way” had more to do with him being “one of us”, an elite East Coaster with all the right credentials, than any belief in the basic equality of man. The elites, like Sunstein and Hiss, claim to support the idea that all men are created equal, but they insist on all of us being ruled by the likes of themselves. We know that we are actually superior to these louts who never produced anything in their lives except misery in their fellow man, and while we know this, we refrain from saying it most of the time because we actually believe in the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Real talent isn’t measured by what school you went to or who your friends are. It may not actually be measurable. But these jerks think they can take the measure of their superiors and use it to rule them. Spit.

    • A large element in Witness is the one-time enthusiastic Communist becoming a profoundly Godly man. He thought that was all there was to it. God above man rather than man above man. Forward.

  • Hiss misspoke.

  • Winston

    Anyone who opposes Obama is slandered everyday as a racist, fascist, religious nut, etc., and Sunstein writes about how liberals are supposedly maligned? Priceless. And this after years of the Left demonizing President Bush.

    The Tea Party is hardly the paranoid style in American political life. It’s responding to something very real, a massive expansion in the Federal Government with the attendant increases in taxation and spending. It’s not paranoia to worry that something like Obamacare, that effects the entire US economy, just might adversely effect economic prosperity. If anything, Sunstein is maligning his opponents, trying to write them off as paranoids and conspiracy freaks. He is so parochial and self-isolated that he cannot credit people that disagree with him as even having a rational point.

  • ThomasD

    If Sunstein were “hoping to launch a broader conversation among liberals about ways their own missteps have contributed to American
    polarization” he might have started by laying out a more open, and perhaps controversial take on the matter.

    As it stands his essay is a straightforward regurgitation of the approved party line. It reminded me of nothing so much as the talk our tour guide gave about Mao and the Gang of Five when we visited the Forbidden City.

    He’s not trying to start a conversation, he’s preaching to the choir.

  • Inasmuch as the majority of the New Deal’s initiatives came right out of the American Socialist Party’s 1932 platform, how can anyone say absolutely that Franklin D. Roosevelt was not a socialist? Just because he ran on another party’s ticket?

    Read Garet Garrett’s “The Revolution Was” for additional food for thought.

    • Micha_Elyi

      …how can anyone say absolutely that Franklin D. Roosevelt was not a socialist?
      –Francis W. Poretto

      With their eyes wide shut, that’s how.

  • So…. this is NOT socialism? Not of any sort? That’s just mad blather, I guess. That’s a sorry burp in an otherwise competent, rote effort. It is of crucial importance though, that Sunstein is thoroughly off the rez. Wha? There were straight up Soviet commies in the New Deal? Isn’t that when Stalin was running things? Yes indeed. And while Sunstein bows to glaring reality he weasels out on the Marxist foundations of alleged Liberalism. What is it that he and his ilk (we all have an ilk, apparently) abhor in socialism, communism, Marxism or, say, the modern Caudillism of Chavez or Castro? You can’t find much. Yes, Liberalism is socialism and socialism is LIberalism. What Marxist principle does Sunstein or any other Lib talking head abhor? And how abhorrently? Forward.

  • Jeffrey Ring

    I think Mr. Mead should check and see if any of Joseph McCarthy’s accusations were accurate. The same people defending Hiss were opposed to McCarthy.

    • Mittymo

      Dems joined with clandestine Soviet agents in America to destroy McCarthy.

      The Soviets didn’t want their important work in America to be interrupted, and Dems didn’t want Americans to discover clandestine Soviet agents had wormed their way into our government & gotten America to carry the Soviets’ water.

      Read “Stalin’s Secret Agrents,” by Herbert Romerstein and “The Unnecessary War,” by Patrick Buchanan.

    • ar061246

      A suggested read would be “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans. It’s a methodical, scholarly and well documented history of the Soviet penetration into all levels of the government in the 30’s and 40’s. It focuses on the rise and fall of McCarthy and includes a lot of other information to provide context to the period.

      One of the more interesting aspects to the story was the crafty and raw political attack on McCarthy headed by the liberal establishment. A few years later than the Hiss affair, by then, liberals had honed their strategy and turned the committee to investigate Communist penetration into the trial to investigate McCarthy. Not having established a base of support, he was hounded by the liberals and the press, and was left out to dry by the Old Guard (does any of this sound familiar?). Even though a lot of McCarthy’s claims were vindicated through the Venona files in the 1990’s it was much too late to salvage his legacy. Nobody cared.

  • ljgude

    This essay runs right down a major fault line in my own character. I’m an Ivy leaguer (Columbia ’64) and the son of an Ivy Leaguer (Columbia ’35) who was a farmer, an agricultural economist and farm leader. He said that Galbraith, who was also an agricultural economist, understood him best. Among politicians he found that Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri and Lyndon Johnson understood the plight of dairy farmers. My dad also was disappointed with JFK – could see that Kennedy just couldn’t follow anything my father was talking about. I learned a lot about economics and farm work growing up but of necessity grew up in the backwoods of New Hampshire. From the moment I went to school at 6 years of age I discovered that those nasty Jacksonian backwoods kids hated anyone with the odure of an Ivy League future. They beat the Hiss out of me every day for months and then at regular intervals to ‘keep my mind right’ until the day I lost it and charged the lot of them hurling every stick and stone or loose hunk of metal I could lay my hands on fully determined to kill each and every one of them. To my utter surprise they ran. Afterward the teachers were aghast and tried to make me say I wouldn’t do it again, but I just looked at them with silent contempt. Oh my head is still Jeffersonian, or Hamiltonian by turns, less often Wilsonian, but my heart, my dear,dear heart, is very dark and very Jacksonian. So I would like to repeat the performance of Jackson’s supporters when Sara Palin becomes president and we all gather on the White House lawn to eat moose eyeballs and shoot each other for the fun of it. Just like when old Hickory got hisself elected.

    • Mittymo

      I suggest you read Amity Shlaes’, “The Forgotten Man.”

      She discusses the plight of forgotten dairy farmers during the 1930s.

      Plus, she’s an Ivy League Alumna (Yale), so she talks your language & understands where you come from.

  • Dexter Scott

    “Launch a broader conversation” — translated from Newspeak, this means “sit down and shut up while I lecture you about how stupid and evil you are.”

    • Aces and Eights

      Well said! 🙂

      For fifty years, they tell us how evil we are. Can you imagine the look on their faces if we finally *agree with them?* 😀

      That is why it is just abuse and not “dialogue.” In dialogue, you can actually end up agreeing! With the left, the one thing they cannot permit to happen is to have the conversation conclude with us saying, “You’re right, we are evil. Now WATCH THIS!”

      So the liberals, the teenagers of the American Dinner Table, spit across the broccoli at the evil, horrible grown ups who only care about dumb stuff like “money” and “not burning the house down.”

  • Kavanna

    Expect more of this far-fetched bullsh** as the modern liberal elite suffers from spreading cognitive dissonance: it’s supposed to be *for* the people, but it’s never been *of* or *from* the people. It’s always really been about agitating the masses and shoving various paternalisms and materalisms down their throats.
    What if the masses don’t want to be agitated, but instead want more honest government and their freedom back?

  • Mittymo

    Clandestine Soviet agents of influence like Alger Hiss (hoping to convert America to communism) helped shape its policies & history.

    It’s men like Hiss & the policies he helped shape (like the New Deal) that generated the Tea Party.

    The Tea Party believes in the America envisioned by our founders & not an America transformed into something radically different by persons that share the ideas & policies of men like Alger Hiss.

  • Jeff Bennion

    Well Sam Tannehaus was (is) a lefty when he wrote Whittaker Chambers: A Biography, and wherein he concludes that Hiss was lying. Not sure that counts as an apology per se, but still worthy of note. As an aside, Witness is an absolutely riveting read, even if you read it (as I did) long after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  • edlarson

    Alger Hiss? Really?

    Pssst. Do you want to know what drives the Tea Party? I’ll tell you, as a long time member of the GOP and a charter TEA Party member I feel exceptionally qualified to tell the Liberal establishment where the TEA Party came from and what motivates it.

    The TEA Party started as a formal group in 2009, everybody knows that, but the events of 2009 were just the tipping point. What set the movement in motion?

    Freedom, or more specifically the erosion of personal Freedom that has been taking place in the United States for the past 80 years or so. The growth of government bureaucracy, the overreach of the major political parties, the passage of unpopular legislation without heeding the voice of the common citizen. Simpson-Mazolli Act, NAFTA, Hillarycare, The Immigration Reform Act, all helped to set up the dominoes.

    The final straw however was passing nearly two trillion dollars in spending without allowing a single member of Congress to read the bills. Namely, TARP and the Stimulus Bill. Not only were these bills passed without the involvement of the people’s representatives in Congress, but those responsible actually bragged about locking the GOP out of committee meetings, and about not reading the bills. That was the last straw. The people who were paying attention reacted and the TEA Party was the result.

    Now the Left can go back to gazing at their navels and ruminating over Alger Hiss, but the answer that they are looking for is right there for all to see. What I would like to know, is why can’t they see it?

    • Aces and Eights

      Nice summary. They can’t see it because their identity depends on maintaining a sense of moral supremacy. Their object is not to “fix” anything, OR “destroy” anything. Their object is to look down their noses at “those people” who belong on the other side of the tracks, or the back of the bus, or however you care to say it.

      For all of human history, there is a kind of person who can only feel of any worth if they can spit on somebody “beneath” them. This is critical to understanding the left: their intellect is *slaved* to this emotional need for moral supremacy. Their intellect is subordinated to their emotional needs. That is why otherwise intelligent-seeming people can produce rhetoric and notions that have the superficial quality of actual thought, but are just hatred and contempt in a really convoluted form.

      And that is also their camouflage: they keep us fixated on the semantics, the rhetoric, the procedural details of the conversation, any minutiae they can game to keep us from pointing out that they are operating from a place of emotional derangement. They are masters of false introspection, for the purpose of preventing anyone from sweeping away the obfuscation they surround themselves with.

      They *need* us. I think this is a thing a lot of conservatives don’t understand: they NEED to hate us. This isn’t a practical debate about how to fix anything, for them. They need the feelings of moral supremacy. Hating us is their emotional nourishment.

    • gsmullennix

      Sorry but TARP was launched by Bush by Paulson, his Sec of Treasury. It was well targeted and served its purpose. Congress was fully informed. You might want to read Paulson’s account and then such critiques as you think useful. I don’t defend President Obama for his financial celebrations following his being sworn in. I think I could reasonably argue Obama would not have launched TARP without billions going to his cohorts.

  • NW-HardWood

    The Tea Party is vindicated by obama himself “you can keep your plan no mater what…..period” It is stunning that he believer’s there’s little or no price to pay for the out and out lies that come out of his mouth daily. There are still to this day examples of elite Liberals inability to acknowledge Hiss was a traitor and Soviet spy. The same water will be carried by the future Liberal/Progressive/Socialist cabal for obama…the pure. They will never admit what a disaster he is and never acknowledge the misery he has benevolently bestowed on the American people.

  • The fundamental problem of Liberalism is that what Liberals think of as doing things for us, most of us consider as having things done to us.

  • underwearbomber

    As Prof. Meade says, there has never been any inkling of responsibility by the liberal elite for blindly defending one of their own who was both a traitor and a perjurer. We hear over and over again about McCarhyism, but never the trigger for it, in the real communists, Stalinists and traitors we now know (after the fall of the Soviet Union and opening of KGB files) who were part of FDR’s and Truman’s governments. For goodness sake, Henry Wallace who was FDR’s VP, one step away from the Presidency was a paid Soviet agent!

    Prof. Meade is again right that the Tea Party is a homegrown organic reaction to the class warfare being perpetrated by the elites on millions of average Americans against their natural interests. Notice how the left has to do everything to “explain away” the Tea Party. Nancy Pelosi said it was “astroturf.” The liberal echo chamber talks endlessly about Koch Brothers conspiracies (when Soros more nealy fits that bill on their side). Now another extreme anti-American leftist Sunstein wants to draw lines back to Alger Hiss.

    I say, out with all of them, including their GOP apologists, and power back to the American people.

    PS: If it matters to anyone I have several degrees from Columbia, like many of our finest universities a great place to study science, but a repellent cesspool of snobbery, elitism and political leftism shown empirically not to work a thousand times over.

  • The_Dread_Pirate_Roberts

    Hiss was identified in the GRU and KGB archives as an agent when these were opened to scrutiny post 1989. Henry Wallace was identified as a fellow traveler by the Roosevelt Administration in the early 40’s and was replaced by Truman for the ’44 election specifically for that reason.

    The perversion of humanity offered by Socialism & Communism found very fertile ground in the East and West Coast elites.What is even more stupefying is that, even in the face of history and of the facts before their own eyes, they continue in their delusions.

  • I BarKahn

    Obama’s “liberal and technocratic agenda”? This is Walter Russel Mead’s pretense that Obama is anything more than an ineligible occupant of the presidency who produces fraudulent documentation, who is anti-American, anti-democratic republicanism, anti-capitalist, neo-Marxist, who supports retrograde Islamic fundamentalism, diminishes and enfeebles our military, and is successfully marching, on course and on time, to this nation’s ruin. Mead, like his counterparts in the Conservative media, will not come to grips with a root, legal and just solution, the judicial removal of Obama. Instead, Mead, a coward, has chosen to deny his obligation to protect you, the rank and file Conservative, from the machinations of Obama and the Democrat Party. Mead’s true concern is his career; you are left to fend for yourself.

  • section9

    I think you can trace the breach between the News Media and the GOP back to Hiss-Chambers. Richard Nixon was critical to the resolution of this case, and the press saw the Young Nixon’s attack on Hiss as part of a general attack on the New Deal, which it wasn’t. Nixon was merely being an opportunist.
    But the Press came to hate Nixon for it, and for his expose of NKVD penetration of the Roosevelt Administration. I think you can trace the Democratic Party’s domination of the MSM to this Postwar period, given that it coincides with the rise of that period’s most consequential politician, Richard M. Nixon.

  • section9

    I think Professor Mead, and Cass Sunstein,, sell one other thing short about the rise of the Right in the late Forties. There were real and consequential things that started happening about 1947 that moved the political conversation away from FDR’s progressivism.

    1. The Greek Civil War.

    2. The exposure of the Atomic Spy Cases and the fact that the Manhattan Engineer District was riddled with NKVD spies. Beria virtually ran Los Alamos. I’m surprised, given the extent of penetration, that Kurchatov didn’t produce a working plutonium bomb by 1947, instead of 1949, when the Soviets did their first test.

    3. The implosion of the Nationalist Government in China in the spring and summer of the 1949 that led to Mao’s triumph in October of that year.

    It was only Thomas E. Dewey’s fecklessness as a candidate (he was the Mitt Romney of his age, so it seems) that allowed Harry S. Truman to gain reelection. Were it not for Truman and Marshall’s foresight in Europe, we might have lost France and Italy to the Communists, as well.

  • Slaw76

    “There were those on the right who thought that Franklin Roosevelt was a socialist”

    And, they were right.

  • David Zion

    Liberals are still in the can for the Rosenbergs as well.

  • narciso

    Well they are the same who covered up for van jones, who don’t seem to notice Mark Lloyd’s chavista enthusiasms,

  • Tony Inian

    Make me wanna puke. I see the most blame in this article put on “overreactions” by the Republican base (AKA bumpkins). Far more blame than put on the Democrat’s never ending quest to turn America into a socialist state.

    There is one great thing, however, about this article. It highlights the fecklessness of the GOP intelligentsia.

    My takeaway from this article: if it weren’t for those uneducated, uninformed, knuckle-dragging Philistine Joe six-pack rubes who believe the Democrats are “looking to introduce both socialism and Sharia as soon as they can”, the GOP intelligentsia would’ve fixed this long ago.

    Thanks a lot for the insults. They’re only driving millions of us out of the GOP. But after all – isn’t that the point behind them?

  • charlesrwilliams

    Alger Hiss was a Communist agent and he was not the lone traitor among the “liberal elite.” There was a significant penetration of Communists and fellow-travellers into the highest levels of the US government although the problem was largely over by the time McCarthy exploited it for personal gain. Communist subversion extended into the labor movement and Hollywood.

    So why did our “liberal elites” come to the defense of these traitors? Why were they sympathetic to what Reagan rightly called the evil empire and in denial about the enormity of the crimes committed by Communist regimes?

    The answer lies in the fact that they disagree with the Communists over means and not over ends. Sunstein is a good example. He proposes that regulators manipulate people into doing what is good for them. He is a nice socialist. People like Sunstein do not propose to shoot monks, dump hard-working prosperous peasants and their families in Siberia to freeze, and starve excess Ukrainians to extract surplus for government-directed industrial development. Nonetheless, American kulaks (that is, the tea party) understand that the Sunsteins of the liberal elite are their enemy and propose to rob them of their liberty. Although I doubt that many tea party people know who Alger Hiss was and who Cass Sunstein is.

  • gsmullennix

    If you’ve not found and read the extremely well written book by Whitaker Chambers, WITNESS, you’ve done yourself a disservice. You can only understand today’s politics in the light it provides. It should be required reading on every American college campus and fully debated. And Hillary would have been better served by that effort rather than her time spent in academic pursuit of Saul Alinsky.

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