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Tea Party Is Nothing More Than G.O.P. Fringe

We came across an insightful column in yesterday’s Boston Globe which analyzes the true makeup and possible impact of the Tea Party. Lynnrockets’ Blast-Off could say it no better, so here is that column. After reading it, please review Scott Lehigh’s other well written work by visiting The Boston Globe.

“AT TIMES, the Tea Party movement has seemed less an authentic expression of grass-roots outrage than a counterfeit crop seeded by well-connected conservatives and nurtured in the hospitable hothouse that is Fox News. And yet the movement, which doesn’t have particularly deep roots in New England, has turned out some impressive crowds, including a sizable gathering on Boston Common in mid-April.

Will the Tea Party will be a lasting force in mainstream American politics? Or, like most American protest movements, is it destined to fade away after an election cycle or two? That question has been difficult to answer, in part because it’s hard to bring the movement into sharp focus.

If you’ve looked for a unified field theory that explains it all, you’ve no doubt been frustrated. As New York Times reporter Kate Zernike writes in “Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America,’’ her new book about the movement, the phenomenon doesn’t lend itself to one simple explanation. Instead, the movement is the complex sum of many different parts and motivations.

Zernike (full disclosure: she’s a former colleague and a friend) persuades me that it shouldn’t be written off as just a synthetic creation, despite the energetic involvement of FreedomWorks, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s corporate-cozy conservative nonprofit, which includes Astroturfing tricks among its organizing tactics.

In part that’s because of the everyday American faces “Boiling Mad’’ puts on some of the Tea Party activists. For example, there’s Tom Grimes, a jovial 65-year-old laid-off stockbroker who adopts the satirical title of “bus czar’’ as he arranges transportation for Tea Party protests. And Diana Reimer, a gregarious 66-year-old who got involved as a way “to get your frustrations out’’ after her husband, a former Navy man, lost his job and she had to take a low-wage post at Macy’s.

Zernike’s reporting gives you a good sense of the camaraderie the Tea Partiers enjoy, as well as the anger, fear, and frustration they feel. I found myself impressed by their energy, commitment, and passion.

And yet, “Boiling Mad’’ also reinforced something I’ve experienced in my own exchanges with Tea Party types. Their views often betray a gut-level emotional element or a lack of policy knowledge or inconsistencies or contradictions that would hinder any easy or long-term translation into a governing philosophy. (Unity, as any political tactician can tell you, is far easier in opposition than in support of something.)

Grimes, for example, rebuts the pro-Obama arguments of friends this way: “The problem is, you guys are trying to sell this on facts. You can have all the facts, but if you don’t trust the mind-set or the value system of the people involved, you can’t even look at the facts anymore.’’

Reimer, meanwhile, wants smaller government, but not cuts to Medicare or TRICARE (the military health care program), on which she and her husband rely.

There, she’s hardly alone. Despite their anti-government bent, half of those who considered themselves Tea Party supporters either benefit from programs like Social Security or Medicare or have someone in their immediate family who does, according to New York Times polling.

Further, one can’t help but be struck by the solipsism that marks the movement. Eighty-four percent of Tea Party supporters think their views reflect those of most Americans, according to that same polling. (Perhaps they’ve watched too much of Glenn Beck’s coverage of their events.) That’s just silly. Among a larger sample of US adults, only 25 percent thought Tea Party sentiments typified the majority’s thinking, while only 18 percent actually called themselves Tea Party supporters.

In sum, Zernike’s book leaves me more confident in the idea that the real effect of the Tea Party won’t be in the middle of American politics. Rather, it will be within the Republican ranks, where the newly minted activists are engaged in a power struggle with the establishment.

It’s a struggle that may well drag the GOP even further out of the mainstream. If so, some who celebrated the protests as the start of an anti-Obama backlash may find the movement has boomeranged on them in ways they never imagined.”

Please remember to click on the song link below to familiarize yourselves with the tune and to have more fun singing along with today’s topical song parody.

Garden Party song link:


(sung to the Ricky Nelson song “Garden Party”)

I went to a Tea Bag party hoping to make some brand new friends
But they became my enemies, those right wing racist men
When I got to the Tea Bag party, they all looked the same
That really surprised me, and no one had a brain

But its all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Crazies there from miles around, mostly with white hair
Locals brought their shotguns, there was hatred in the air
‘n’ over in the corner, not to my surprise
Sarah Palin sportin’ F-me pumps while just winking her eyes

But its all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so they can go to hell

Lot-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Told them they were so wrong, Glenn Beck is insane
Drill Baby, Drill’s stupid,  and Palin is to blame
I said Rand Paul is crazy too, best not drink his tea
Then I told them things about Michele Bachmann they would not believe

But its all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so they can go to hell

Lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

Someone opened up a closet door and donned a white pointy hood
Punching his railroad ticket to Hell and just the way he should
If you’re goin’ to a Tea Bag party, I wish you a lotta luck
Bring a misspelled sign, use racist slang and drive a pick-up truck

But its all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

But its all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Town Hall Protest Bus Tour Rolls Into Town

Health care reform protesters arrive at Town Hall Meeting.

Health care reform protesters arrive at Town Hall Meeting.

It has finally been factually established that the Tea-Bagger inspired Town Hall Protesters are actually reich-wing corporation-funded day-laborers. Gee, and we believed that it was actually a true grass-roots movement of informed citizens expressing their constitutionally protected opinions on health care reform (he said sarcastically). Have you actually looked at these pseudo protesters on television? If you have, it is evident that some sort of grass is involved.

But we digress. We all know that powerful rich folks cannot be bothered to take time away from the country club or yacht club to engage in the mundane, trivial, and dare we say working class, aspects of civil public protest. Remember the Major League Baseball strike of 1984 when the millionaire professional athletes could not be bothered with manning their own picket lines, so they hired homeless folks to walk the lines and carry signs for them? Well, the same thing is happening now with these Town Hall protests.

It turns out that one of the groups sponsoring and promoting the hiring and bussing of protesters is the Washington D.C. lobbying group, FreedomWorks. The chairman of FreedomWorks is former Republican Majority Leader, Dick Armey. FreedomWorks in turn, controls a subgroup known as Tea Party Patriots and a leaked memo from one of its volunteers explains the tactics used by the organization, not to engage in public discussion of a public policy issue of importance, but to simply disrupt public meetings. The memo (reproduced in its entirety by ThinkProgress here) instructs members as follows:

– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

These meeting-crashers are bussed to Town Hall Meeting sites by a group known as Americans For Prosperity. This is another Washington D.C. advocacy group founded and chaired by David Koch of Koch Industries (the largest privately owned oil refinery and pipeline business in the U.S.) and coincidentally, the 19th richest man in the world. The whole promotional event is known as the Americans For Prosperity’s Patients First Bus Tour.

So, if you are unfortunate enough to run into one of these busloads of fake grass roots protesters, ask them if Mr. Armey, Mr. Koch, or any of their buddies in the “richest people in the world club” are riding on the coach. You know what the answer will be. Do not be intimidated. Remember that these folks are simply day-laborors paid for by very rich conservatives that are not interested in the health of the citizens of (as Sarah Palin would say) “this great nation of ours.” They are only interested in preserving the profits of the insurance industry and pharmaceutical concerns.

In honor of the troops, please remember to click on the song link below to have more fun singing along.

Magical Mystery Tour song link:


(sung to The Beatles song “Magical Mystery Tour”)

Roll up, roll up for the tragical misery tour. Step right this way.

Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up AND THAT’S AN INVITATION, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, A TOWN HALL DESTINATION, roll up for the misery tour
The tragical misery tour is eating your brain cells away
Eating your brain cells away

Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, WE DON’T CARE IF YOU CAN’T READ, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, SO LONG AS YOU CAN SCREAM, roll up for the misery tour
The tragical misery tour will even pay you for the day
Even pay you for the day

(The misery trip is waiting)

Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, TO MAKE A RESERVATION, roll up for the misery tour
Roll up, JUST STOP THEIR CONVERSATION, roll up for the misery tour
The tragical misery tour wants insurers to keep their payday
Please help them to have their way
The tragical misery tour is hoping that you die away
After you make your co-pay, make your co-pay