Fareed Zakaria Lectures Conservatives to 'Lighten Up,' Hits the 'Extreme' Tea Party

Hours after President Obama lectured Republicans about governing, CNN boosted his agenda by ordering conservatives and the Tea Party to "lighten up" on Thursday's The Situation Room.

"So while the President is calling for a change in behavior and tone here in Washington, listen to this from CNN's Fareed Zakaria writing in today's Washington Post. He takes direct aim at what he calls the extreme rhetoric of the right," noted The Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer. Zakaria explained his withering indictment of conservatism and smacked the "extreme" Tea Party.

Zakaria's column is a liberal broadside against the pillars of conservatism. He goes after Speaker Boehner's warning against deficit spending:

"John Boehner tries to tie into this tradition of opposition when he says in exasperation, 'The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years!'

But what has been the result over these past 60 years? The United States has grown mightily, destroyed the Soviet Union, spread capitalism across the globe and lifted its citizens to astonishingly high standards of living and income."

Zakaria laughably claims the U.S. doesn't have a serious cultural problem:

"A persistent theme of conservative intellectuals and commentators — in print and on Fox News — is the cultural decay of the country. But compared with almost any period in U.S. history, we live in bourgeois times, in a culture that values family, religion, work and, above all, business."

Then Zakaria takes a swipe at the "revolutionary" Tea Party:

 "Even after the worst recession since the Great Depression, there are no obvious radicals, anarchists, Black Panthers or other revolutionary movements — save the tea party."

Zakaria's diatribe against conservatism and the Tea Party echoes President Obama's shot towards conservative talk radio and the blogosphere:

"And now that the government has reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that's grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, educate our kids, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. That's why we're here. That should be our focus."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on The Situation Room on October 17 at 5:08 p.m. EDT:

WOLF BLITZER: So while the President is calling for a change in behavior and tone here in Washington, listen to this from CNN's Fareed Zakaria writing in today's Washington Post. He takes direct aim at what he calls the extreme rhetoric of the right.

(...)

BLITZER: You also want conservatives to lighten up, Fareed. Explain what's going on here.

FAREED ZAKARIA: I think there are two things going on Wolf, as you were discussing earlier. One is the kind of institutional collapse of authority in the Republican party so that as you know, on immigration, the leadership of the party wanted to make a deal. Most senators, most of the leaders in the House, but they can't because there's no structure. This is not Newt Gingrich's Republican party anymore. The second piece is that there is this extreme wing within the party, the Tea Party, that really believes that America is going to hell in a hand basket and tomorrow. As Ted Cruz said at that Value summit, we've got two years to stop this country from plunging into oblivion. Well if you use rhetoric like that, if you work people up like that, it's very tough to see how you could compromise. You're telling them that what they are doing now by refusing to raise the debt ceiling is noble and heroic and is saving the republic from imminent oblivion, how do you dial that back? You know, and that second piece is really worrying because most of the Tea Party come out of this feeling, you know, we just – this just means we have to fight harder the next time around.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014