What about Ron Johnson? Here's Politico, presenting the GOP Senate candidate in Wisconsin as emblematic of the new sort of politician who has emerged from the Tea Party movement:
Until last fall, Ron Johnson was just an intensely private guy with a good business and a nice house on Lake Winnebago. He kept a stack of Wall Street Journals next to his bed, folded just right so he wouldn't forget to read columnist Dan Henninger on this or Paul Gigot on that. A trim, silver-haired businessman, he was rich but unknown, even in this, his hometown, despite big donations to Lourdes High School and his thriving plastics company here.
Running for office never crossed his mind...
The Tea Party of Oshkosh was pulling together a rally for a fall event, featuring Joe the Plumber, the working man who emerged as a folk hero to small government conservatives in 2008. They needed a businessman to talk about what they saw as the scary, Big Brother approach to ObamaCare - and Johnson was happy to oblige. His daughter Carrie was born with a heart defect and saved by two doctors - a story anyone following this campaign has heard many times in ads and speeches ever since. So, he let loose with an attack on the demonization of doctors and, more broadly, the mortal threat to American exceptionalism.Read the whole thing. You too, Mr. Hitchens.
The new law “will destroy our health care system,” Johnson said in an interview. “I am totally convinced of that.”
In hindsight, Johnson, in that speech, was capturing a major mood change in American politics that swept up not only business owners but also anti-government conservatives and skeptical independents. These groups, by late summer of 2009, had turned against the president and his party – and never returned.
Oh, it's not as if Hitchens didn't think of the Tea Party. After telling us about his elite circle of people who are so smart and informed but disinclined to enter the political fray, he does acknowledge that there is much more going on these days: his observation "may seem to discount or ignore the apparent flood of new political volunteers who go to make up the Tea Party movement." You can see the gears turning in his brain as he tries to get to the end of this article that began so easily, built on what looks to me like dinner-table conversations with his friends. How to dismiss these pesky teafolk of the flyover realms? Ah! He proclaims:
They come from a long and frankly somewhat boring tradition of anti-incumbency and anti-Washington rhetoric, and they are rather an insult to anyone with anything of a political memory.They are an insult. These people aren't worth talking to or about. Why, they aren't even people at all. They are an insult.
Since when is it truly insurgent to rail against the state of affairs in the nation's capital? How long did it take Gingrich's "rebel" forces in the mid-1990s to become soft-bottomed incumbents in their turn?Questions. Questions. Speaking of untoned asses, shouldn't you have to get off yours and go out and talk to Americans in places like Wisconsin? One answer is that Hitchens is gravely ill, but he's still pouring out political commentary, and he's not asking for pity or showing any. He's as imperious as ever, and the respect he deserves for that bravery and effort ought to come in the form of serious engagement with his actual words he is... spewing.