Fareed Zakaria Blames Tea Party for 'Extraordinary Polarization in Washington Today'

July 24th, 2011 4:23 PM

Fareed Zakaria on Sunday blamed the Tea Party for the "extraordinary polarization in Washington today."

"It's ideologically extreme, refuses to compromise, and cares more about purity than problem solving," Zakaria told viewers of the CNN program bearing his name (video follows with transcript and commentary):

FAREED ZAKARIA: Watching the extraordinary polarization in Washington today, many people have pointed the finger at the Tea Party. It's ideologically extreme, refuses to compromise, and cares more about purity than problem solving.

I happen to agree with much of that critique, but it doesn't really answer the question, why has the Tea Party become so prominent? Why is it able to dominate Washington?

So the extraordinary polarization in Washington today has nothing to do with the extreme left-wing views of President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

It's all because of the relatively small percentage of legislators affiliated with the Tea Party.

What nonsense, as beside the hyper-partisanship of today's Democrat leaders, another huge factor is media members like Zakaria always accusing those they don't agree with of having extreme, polarizing views.

But such logic is beyond this high and mighty CNN host:

ZAKARIA: We've had plenty of ideologically charged movements come to Washington before. Think of Barry Goldwater or George McGovern. But once in Washington, the system encouraged compromise and governance.

But, over the last few decades, what has changed are the rules organizing American politics, and they now encourage small interest groups, including ideologically charged ones, to capture major political parties as well as Congress itself. Call it political narrow casting.

Here are some examples. Redistricting has created safe seats so that for most House members, their only concern is a challenge from the right for Republicans and the left for Democrats. The incentive is to pander to the base, not the center.

Party primaries have been taken over by small groups of activists who push even popular senators to extreme positions. In Utah, for example, 3,500 conservative activists managed to take the well-regarded Senator Robert Bennett off the ballot. GOP senators like Orrin Hatch and John McCain have moved farther to the right, hoping to stave off similar assaults.

Zakaria neglected to inform viewers that the "well-regarded Senator Robert Bennett" came in third in Utah's May 8, 2010, primary.

He also chose to ignore how Republican in Name Only McCain suffered one of the biggest presidential defeats in recent memory in 2008, and that the moderate views of the GOP cost it both chambers of Congress in 2006.

By contrast, a massive shift to the Right gave Republicans the biggest Congressional victory in decades last year.

To a shill like Zakaria, this was bad political strategy, and the GOP needs to move back to the center to be successful.

Think they should take his advice?