As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Stroll Through The Teabags

This isn't turning out entirely well for the right. Even the roundup piece on the AP includes this balloon-puncturing nugget.

The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, a lobbyist whose corporate clients including Verizon, Raytheon, liquor maker Diageo, CarMax and drug company Sanofi Pasteur.

The group's federal tax returns show its educational and charitable arms received more than $6 million in donations in 2007, the most recent year for which returns are available.

Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich have no possible claim to leading a grassroots movement, though Armey did helpfully explain to the protesters what teabagging is, which at least should help their sex lives. This is corporate underwriting to harness populist sentiment. And the results have been ugly, like with this Fox News reporter exhorting his charges to "wake up and fight the fascism."

Or this.

"He's a fascist." "Why?" "Because he is."

I still haven't figured out what this protest is all about, but it sure is entertaining. Elsewhere, teabaggers threw tea over the White House gate, causing a lockdown while protesters shouted "Death to the President." This is an echo of teabaggers sending tea bags to Congressional offices and having them mistaken for hazardous materials. And here are some pictures - my favorite being "cut taxes, not defense," which just shows no recognition of how government or money or really anything works. Oh yeah, and this.

Robert Gibbs could only sigh and remark that the White House just passed the largest middle-class tax cut in American history, which is true and about all they really should say at this point, given their position of authority. I think Thomas Frank put it best:

Unless it rains today, thousands of average people will stand up across the land, declare their mad-as-hell-ness. Look for folks to holler for lower estate taxes and a replacement for Sarbanes-Oxley. They will put on three-cornered hats, wave "don't tread on me" flags, and imagine that they are channeling the spirit of Tom Paine as they do their part to ease the troubles of the economy's winners.

And Fox News, which plans to cover the tea parties, will no doubt hail this plastic populism as the realest kind of social uprising, a movement that is the rightful expression of this year's discontents [...]

The conservative movement, too, has long been a master of this maneuver. From the days of Richard Nixon to those of Sarah Palin it has described itself as a rebellion of Middle America against elitist liberals; as a nation of Joe the Plumbers rising against interfering bureaucrats.

It has little patience with traditional populism of the anti-big-business sort. Looking around on the Web site of the D.C. pressure group FreedomWorks, for example, I came across a denunciation of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's "small-minded populism" written in January 2008 by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, now FreedomWorks's chairman. Mr. Huckabee's offense was his claim to favor "Main Street, not Wall Street," thereby implying, Mr. Armey sputtered, "that the interests of the two are not in alignment. . . ."

As the mad-as-hell come together to proclaim their outrage, all the well-known earmarks of right-wing populism will no doubt be present. Leadership, in certain instances, will probably be furnished by one of the many well-known, well-funded Washington pressure groups. The ideology will be strictly Manichean: "government" and "freedom" in a zero-sum cage match, light versus darkness, with a victory for one being automatically a setback for the other.

Other than that, the tea partiers' stance on the issues is a little mysterious. But outrage is outrage, the party organizers probably figure; who will know the difference?

Great stuff.

...not that numbers are everything, but the biggest claim I've seen is that 60,000 people have turned out nationwide for this thing. 500,000 people rallied for immigration reform just in LA, and without any right-wing money or infrastructure, besides. Of course, I saw very little coverage of those rallies compared to the teabagging. And the disconnect from the traditional media is sadly predictable.

...Go Nancy!

PELOSI: What they want is a continuation of the failed economic policies of President George Bush which got us in the situation we are in now. What we want is a new direction. … This [tea party] initiative is funded by the high end — we call call it astroturf, it’s not really a grassroots movement. It’s astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class.

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