Monday, August 1, 2011

TPM Compares the Tea Party to the Godfather

Thomas Lane at TPM has an article comparing the Tea Party to the Godfather. Specifically, Lane alludes to the scene in which Woltz wakes up with his racehorse's head in his bed after he refuses to do a favor for the Don. (Relevant video here.) Basically, I guess Lane's point is that the Tea Party was so extreme, they were willing to default (cut off the racehorse's head) if they didn't get less government (Johnny Fontane's movie deal). The movie producer - Woltz (the Democrats) first refuses to deal, but after he sees the extent the other side is willing to go to, he relents. As someone with a PhD in movie metaphors, I analyze below the jump:

First, props to anyone referencing "The Godfather". It's one of the best books/movies to come out in the last 100 years. However, I'm not sure this is an analogy that a Democrat wants to make. If you're familiar with the story, Woltz is a very wealthy and powerful movie producer. Ok, that's just like the Democrats. They have lots of power and influence. So far, so good. However, Woltz is a really bad guy. He sleeps with the young actresses that work for him, treats subordinates with contempt, and is generally a pompous windbag. If that's the guy that Lane wants to associate the Democrats with....ok, we can go with that. Moreover, Woltz reason for refusing to put Fontane in the movie isn't rational.

Even Woltz concedes that the part in the movie is perfect for Fontane. Woltz then tells Hagen that the reason he won't give the part to Fontane is because Fontane convinced one of Woltz's actresses to leave the movie industry and Woltz wants revenge. That's it. He's refusing to give the part out of spite. Even once Woltz puts Fontane in the move, Woltz is still going to make tons of money on the film. After Hagen tells Vito about Woltz's refusal to put Fontane in the movie, Vito realizes that Woltz isn't thinking reasonably, and he's a man who cannot be reasoned with. It's very clear in the book that Vito always tries to reason with people before he takes any sort of action, and he's famously feared in the Underworld when he pronounces that someone "cannot be reasoned with".

So, let's bring this back to the real world. I think the Tea Party folks would say that they tried to reason with the Democrats on the fiscal shape of the country. They tried to get them to go along with the idea of balancing the budget and getting to a point where you don't spend more than you take in. However, when the Democrats initially failed to agree to this, the Tea Party folks might have felt like they were dealing with people "who couldn't be reasoned with on that issue". Now, to be fair, maybe the Democrats felt the same way. However, both parties had the same specter of default (the horse head) if no agreement could be reached. We could have had a default and maybe the Tea Party would have woken up with a "horse head" in their bed come the next election if the voters show them the door. So the analogy breaks down a little.

But here's where the analogy is dead-on: In life, usually the people who are willing to risk everything for victory achieve victory. The Tea Party was willing to risk the default and the Democrats (and the GOP also) weren't. All things being equal, in a confrontation, the more committed party wins, who will do what's necessary to win - wins. To borrow from another (but lesser) mob movie "The Untouchables", Ness learns the "Chicago Way" from Malone:

Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Anything and everything in my power.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way because they're not gonna give up the fight until one of you is dead.
Ness: How do you do it then?
Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward. Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, 'cause you just took one

What the establishment folks (both Democrats and Republicans) didn't realize is that all the Tea Party Congressmen who were recently elected took a "blood oath" (for better or worse) to rein in spending. Therefore, they were ready to do anything necessary to achieve that. The establishment party wasn't as committed to their ideals - so they caved.

And the Democrats and Republicans would do well to remember - Vito Corleone and Ness win out in their confrontations because they were the ones who saw the fight all the way to the end. I wouldn't trust either the establishment Democrats or the establishment Republicans to have that kind of commitment.

[H/T: Althouse]

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