I hate to make it “Dump on Joel Week,” and I’ve got no big quibbles with the rest of his column, but this is the sort of conventional wisdom that really ticks me off:
A tireless practitioner of town meetings, Baird had a grip on his southwest Washington district, which twice voted for President Bush. The political turf began to move beneath him last summer as tea baggers showed up at once-cordial sessions with voters.
Joel could easily have written that the political turf began to move beneath Baird in 2008 when he angered Democrats by providing political cover for President Bush’s policies in Iraq… but Joel didn’t. Why? Because protests and discontent from the left are generally dismissed by the legacy press, whereas the breadth and impact of right-wing hissy-fits like those from the tea baggers are generally exaggerated.
The implication is that a handful of angry tea baggers played a major role in driving a congressman out of office, while the growing disaffection for Baird from within the base of his own party had absolutely no impact on his decision.
It’s a double standard that distorts the public debate, and… well… just really sticks in my craw.