The left has collapsed.
Its political support has collapsed. Public opinion polls point to a historic repudiation of the president and the Democratic party this fall, something on the order of a 60-seat Republican gain in the House. The GOP has an outside shot at taking the Senate as well.
Its claim to intellectual integrity has collapsed. Paul Krugman, Ivy League professor, New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate (the holy trinity of the liberal establishment), has humiliated himself with a startlingly dishonest attack on Paul Ryan's budget proposal. Krugman, called out by Ryan, rebuked by honest analysts and unwilling to concede his errors, has retreated into uncharacteristic abashed silence.
Its Leninist discipline has collapsed. Last week, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs complained about the craziness of the professional left in the punditocracy. “Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs explained. “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality. … They wouldn't be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”
Members of the professional left hit back at Gibbs, dubbing the Obama White House the “amateur left.”
Its democratic credibility has collapsed. In recent weeks, the left has the arbitrary rulings and sophistic arguments of federal judges who have overturned an immigration statute that mirrors federal law passed by the state legislature in Arizona, and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as it has been defined for all of American history, enacted by the citizens of California.
The left has also heaped praise on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he, having bought his way to a narrow re-election, showered disdain and contempt on the majority of his fellow New Yorkers who object to a mosque next to Ground Zero.
And its good humor (such as it was) has collapsed. As Politico's Ben Smith reported last week, “the Agenda Project, a new, progressive group with roots in New York's fundraising scene and a goal of strengthening the progressive movement, has launched the 'F*ck Tea' project, which is aimed, the group's founder Erica Payne wrote in an e-mail this morning, “to dismiss the Tea Party and promote the progressive cause.”
“We will be launching new products in the next several months to help people all over the country F*ck Tea,” Payne told Politico.
Is Erica Payne a loony nobody? No, she's a lefty somebody, a former Democratic National Committee official, a veteran of many progressive groups, and one of the founders of the Democracy Alliance, the group of big donors who have spent over $100 million to fund “progressive” organizations like the Center for American Progress.
Payne says she started her effort to push back against “the rhetoric over results paradigm that is holding our country hostage.” She wasn't being ironic. As the estimable Allahpundit commented, “Because, you see, if there's any movement that's about results over rhetoric, it's clearly the f*ck tea movement.”
The “F*ck Tea” movement — that's what the left has come to. They can't defend the results of Obama's policies or the validity of Krugman's arguments. They know it's hard to sustain an anti-democratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they've degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.
There's a familiar saying that, despite its religious origins, has usually been associated, presumably because of its odor of condescension and smarminess, with the modern left: Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
Especially if you're not cursing darkness, but rather your fellow citizens. In a recent poll of likely voters, 54 percent strongly or somewhat supported the Tea Party movement, with 38 percent strongly or somewhat opposed. In another poll, of all adults, the movement did have a slightly negative image (30 percent positive, 34 negative) — but it was considerably better than the image of either the Democratic or Republican party.
So, those of us from the pro-Tea Party wing (dare I say the pro-American wing?) of the American public need not respond to the left in kind. We choose the high road. We choose — yes — to light a candle! We choose to ignore the left's sad vulgarity. We choose cheerful doggerel. We say to Erica Payne and Robert Gibbs and Paul Krugman:
When you're feeling sad & blue
And have no clue what to do
Sit down and have a cup of tea
And a hug or two or maybe three.
Feel those troubles melt away
And start you on a better day.
That better day will dawn on Nov. 2, 2010.
William Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard, from which this article is excerpted.