A book excerpt called “American exceptionalism is a dangerous myth” has some really good bits in it, such as —
A clue to the collective psychology emerged in the movementâ€™s early days, when adherents dressed in tricorn hats, knee breeches, and brass-buckled shoes. This goes to the true meaning of the movement and explains why it appeared when it did. One cannot miss, in the movementâ€™s thinking and rhetoric, a desire for a mythical return, another â€œbeginning again,â€ a ritual purification, another regeneration for humanity.
Whatever the Tea Partyâ€™s unconscious motivations and meaningsâ€”and I count these significant to an understanding of the groupâ€”we can no longer make light of its political influence; it has shifted the entire national conversation rightwardâ€”and to an extent backward, indeed. But more fundamentally than this, the movement reveals the strong grip of myth on many Americansâ€”the grip of myth and the fear of change and history. In this, it seems to me, the Tea Party speaks for something more than itself. It is the culmination of the rise in conservatism we can easily trace to the 1980s. What of this conservatism, then? Ever since Reaganâ€™s â€œMorning in Americaâ€ campaign slogan in 1984 it has purported to express a new optimism about America. But in the Tea Party we discover the true topic to be the absence of optimism and the conviction that new ideas are impossible. Its object is simply to maintain a belief in belief and an optimism about optimism. These are desperate endeavors. They amount to more expressions of Americaâ€™s terror in the face of history. To take our country back: Back to its mythological understanding of itself before the birth of its own history is the plainest answer of all.
Elsewhere — I’m pretty much on the same page as Kevin Drum regarding the State Department investigations of James Rosen.