Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic just doesn't seem to be able and pull it off. Today's example:
Their origins -- organic, programmatic, accidental or otherwise -- don't matter much anymore. If -- and we'll have to see the numbers at the end of the day -- 100,000 Americans show up to protest their taxes, the onus to dismiss them as a nascent political force shifts to the Democrats...Let's take this apart point by point. Since when did the origins of a movement not matter? We're still talking about those snowy Iowa days where Obama built his campaign. Why wouldn't the root and financing behind the teabaggers matter? Oddly, Rachel Maddow put the most effort into the conflicting motivations amongst the teabggers.
There's plenty of evidence that a bunch of hanger-on Republican interest groups, always looking to prove their relevance and hip factor to donors and activists, decided to lend their names and resources to the parties, multiplying their "organic" effect. FreedomWorks is a classic astroturfing shop. But I also think that we're too obsessed with the distinction between the top and the bottom of a blade of grass. At some point, critical mass is reached and astroturf campaigns can work -- they can catalyze genuine anger and channel it into meaningful political participation. In the age of hyperconnectivity, just what would an organic grassroots movement look like, anyway? Are people who've organized on behalf of causes before forbidden from joining? Can the movement not accept help and money from outside players?
As DougJ at Balloon Juice put it: "Finally, why do we have to pay attention to 100K tea-baggers when 10 million anti-Iraq war protesters were considered a focus group?"
But these questions aren't answered by Ambinder. He's too busy with his own unanswered asinine questions. Calling out teabaggers for what they were and what they've become is the job of a quality journalist. Mr. Ambinder should stick to that and leave the columnist/opinion work to professionals.
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