The tea party, as they are…
These rebels recite the talk-radio fear agenda with disciplined precision: Obama is a socialist Muslim. Federally mandated infant blood tests will lead to medical rationing. Congressional Democrats are all radicals, in league with the devilish Nancy Pelosi. Fire them all.
It’s a strange switch for Mr. Bishop and his counterparts, who, before the rage machine kicked in, were seen as decent, moderate, well suited for their districts. Forcing incumbents to fight for their seats is a good thing. But the Tea Party’s hatred for both baby and bath water is not going to solve anyone’s real problems.
It’s not going to help people like Jo Ann Riggio, who greeted me at the rally with a smile and readily agreed to chat. Ms. Riggio, a registered nurse from Deer Park, was new to politics, moved by disdain for President Obama and love for her brother Joseph, a Marine colonel who died too young. She said Christ sent her a vision: “Stand up. Carry on,” it said. “March forward.”
Someday, Ms. Riggio said, when death panels kick in, “the people that voted for Obama will get down on their knees and pray for forgiveness.” Mr. Obama is a Muslim, she said, and not a citizen. She said it was his fault that troops overseas weren’t getting the protection they needed. Wasn’t that Bush’s problem? I asked. No, it’s happening now.
Didn’t Donald Rumsfeld take heat for that? Behind her eyes a curtain went down. She said: Stop blaming Bush! Obama is commander in chief now! She was screaming.
I backed down. I didn’t mean to get you mad, I said. She relaxed, and said she was glad we could talk to each other anyway. She reached in to hug me and I hugged her back. “Democrats and Republicans — on a human level, we are all the same, right?” she said.
Right. But not right now for Ms. Riggio, or the electronics salesman who was down to working three days a week, or the man who feared his grown children would be forced from Long Island by property taxes and joblessness.
Which is too bad. All that energy and pain, potential for positive change, lost in the service of Republican nihilism.
Frank Rich has his own take which is interesting, but really gets good at the end…
Don’t expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day — no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they’ll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history — and not just American history — fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial “elites.”
So far neither party has offered a comprehensive antidote to our economic pain. The Democrats have fallen short, and the cynics leading the G.O.P. haven’t so much as tried. We shouldn’t be surprised that this year even a state as seemingly well-mannered as Connecticut has produced a senatorial candidate best known for marching into a wrestling ring to gratuitously kick a man in the groin.
Make no mistake… the failure to pass a large enough stimulus to actually move the country into growth is the reason for the Tea Party. Absent a bad economy and high unemployment and these groups are composed of 12 people with terrible hygiene. While Rich accurately says the D’s have fallen short (and keep, inexplicably, doing so) he doesn’t mention the active roll the Republicans played in torpedoing effective stimulus.
The ironic thing is that the Tea Partiers should be focusing their anger on the very people they’re supporting, starting with the Republican Congressional Delegation from Texas. Every single member of it voted to screw them.