Monday, October 25, 2010

Standing On Our Hind Legs

James Gannon, over at The American Spectator, posts a rallying cry for Tea Party enthusiasts that recalls a speech of actor Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark in the 1949 film All The King's Men.  The image is just too rich for me to leave alone.

The speech follows Stark's realization that he's been duped.  That "those fellows in the striped pants" encouraging him to run for office have been using him all along.
All those fellows in the striped pants, they saw that hick and they took him in...Now, listen to me, you hicks. Yeah, you're hicks too, and they fooled you a thousand times, just like they fooled me. But this time, I'm gonna fool somebody. I'm gonna stay in this race. I'm on my own and I'm out for blood. Now listen to me, you hicks! Listen to me, and lift up your eyes and look at God's blessed and unfly-blown truth. And this is the truth. You're a hick, and nobody ever helped a hick but a hick himself!...I'm the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. Well, I'm standin' here now on my hind legs. Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standin' on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that much yet?
Some of you out there will no doubt use this to make the point that all this Tea Party folderol is nothing more than the latest spasm of old-fashioned American populism.  After all, All The King's Men is really about Louisiana Governor and US Senator Huey P. Long and we know what a redistribute-the-wealth demagogue he was.

But you'd be wrong.  I ask again, if populism this is, who's the lead demagogue?  Name him.  Point to him.  If populism this is, where's the demand to soak the rich and spread it to the poor?  It's a strange populism that demands mostly only to be left alone.

No, the Tea Party is the coming of age of the Silent Majority and here we are, standing on our hind legs, baying loudly at the moon. the only thing left illuminating the dark night of liberalism.  You laugh as it all looks so unnatural for us.  Well maybe it is.  But next Tuesday we'll learn whether or not it was effective nonetheless.



  1. Before we admire Willie Stark too much, let's consider that Robert Penn Warren may have meant us to see in him more FDR than Huey Long.

  2. Good point Ken. Thanks. Actually, what I admired, or found useful, was the speech, not the character.