If the Tea Partiers are as angry at Republican fiscal irresponsibility as Democratic fiscal irresponsibility, how come the movement only sprung up after Barack Obama?s election? Where were these guys in 2004, after George W. Bush launched off-budget wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hiked education spending, forced through a costly prescription [not to mention unfunded] drug benefit, and won reelection because of the unprecedented enthusiasm of the GOP's conservative base?
I have to admit, I think that the larger Tea Party movement, while not exactly being an "astroturf" movement, does have some suspiciously odd timing. Yes, there are many "Tea Partiers" whom I know had issues with Bush's spending, but they still voted for him in 2004.
The biggest issue I see is that as soon as Obama was elected, Fox News went from defense to offense, immediately doing everything they could to lay the deficits and increased debt squarely at the feet of a new administration. Unfortunately, they were quite successful convincing their followers (they're not just viewers anymore) that President Obama was the reason that the debt had increased more than 1000% since Reagan's inauguration.
Mr. Beinart is correct I think, the Tea Party (at least the ones I know) are focused on returning the GOP to it's Goldwater-era dedication to libertarianism, and that scares the establishment Reagan/Bush Republicans to death. The one thing that is missing is the social libertarian streak that Goldwater had, unfortunately the movement we have today is the bastard child of Goldwater's fiscal libertarianism and George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism". It's the small, limited government that still gets to tell you what to do, who to love and what you can/cannot do with your own body.