Why the Tea Party Should Thank President Obama (and the rest of the progressives)
On April 16th – the day after thousands of people took to the streets to attend Tea Party rallies – President Obama, speaking before an enthusiastically supportive audience, mocked the protestors, saying, “I’ve been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes. You would think they’d be saying, ‘Thank you’.”
Of course, the fact that President Obama would stand before a friendly audience, or, an even friendlier media, and mock his opposition is nothing new. In fact, it is his forte. He has previously characterized Tea Partiers as “folks waving tea bags around,” repeatedly mocked John McCain throughout the campaign, and took a thinly veiled shot at Sarah Palin while he was a candidate by saying, “you can put lipstick on a pig…it’s still a pig.” As President, he mocked her criticism of his nuclear strategy by saying “the last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues.” Even Hillary Clinton, now his Secretary of State, felt his stinging criticism when she was his rival for the presidency. When Clinton attempted to curry favor with gun owners by voicing support for the 2nd Amendment, Obama joked that “She’s running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment, she's talking like she's Annie Oakley. Hillary Clinton talking like she’s on the duck line every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter.”
So, that Mr. Obama would make fun of the Tea Parties should not come as a surprise. After all, Barack Obama is clearly an expert on Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, having taught it to members of ACORN, as well as to students attending the University of Chicago’s law school. Rule #5 states that, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” Therefore Mr. Obama’s comments can easily be seen as the sort of ridicule Saul Alinsky advises.
Yet, I cannot help thinking that Mr. Obama has a point in saying that the Tea Partiers should be thanking him - along with his allies in politics, the media, and the progressive movement. Because, as the continuing -- and growing -- popularity of the Tea Party movement attests, the attempts by the Left to mischaracterize it as fringe, racist, ignorant, and violent people, sponsored by Fox News, has done little to dampen the spirit of it. In fact, it has emboldened it.
How the Left characterizes the Tea Partiers varies from time to time, but however it is characterized, it is sure to be negative. The Left throws labels at them like mud against a wall, hoping that something – anything -- will stick. In fact, a few months ago, the Tea Partiers were called, to quote Keith Olbermann, “poor, dumb, manipulated bastards.” But now that the New York Times has researched those who attend Tea Parties, we know that they are not particularly poor (20% have incomes greater than $100,000), or dumb (37% have college degrees), or hardly the type to be manipulated by a party (28% of them are neither Republican nor Democrat, but Independent). So, naturally, the Left has decided that they are, in the words of the New Republic’s Peter Beinart, snobs: “Tea Partiers aren’t standing up for the little guy; they are standing up to the little guy.” So are Tea Partiers society’s dregs or elites? Hardly matters, does it? They are to be hated either way.
According to a New York Times/CBS poll recently released, 18% of Americans identify themselves with the tea party movement. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, more Americans are sympathetic to the message of the Tea Party movement, than with the man they elected president less than two years ago. Obviously the progressive’s yearlong campaign to marginalize the Tea Parties has not been effective. If 48% of Americans prefer the values of the Tea Party to that of President Obama’s, then the Tea Party cannot be dismissed as fringe. Instead, that is about as mainstream as one can get.
Desperate attempts to paint Tea Parties as racist – although ongoing – have been similarly ineffective, probably because there is no record of any minority attending a Tea Party being treated in a racially discriminatory way. Nancy Pelosi attempted to provoke such an incident by walking with members of the Congressional Black Caucus through a Tea Party, but even this failed to provoke violence, vegetable throwing, or shouts of “nigger.” Of course it was alleged that Rep. Lewis was the victim of such name-calling, but no credible source collaborated such an incident occurred, not even Rep. Lewis. This has not stopped the Left from repeating their charge of what happened to Lewis with such certainty that one can hardly believe that they were not all there to personally witness it themselves.
It also does not help that argument that a number of minority political candidates; such as Allen West , Star Parker, and Marco Rubio; have found that Tea Party audiences have been as receptive and supportive of them as they are to every other candidate who has come before them espousing a belief in conservative principles. It seems somewhat difficult to label a person as racist when s/he is wearing a ‘Herman Cain for President’ button in my opinion, but of course that has not stopped the progressives from trying.
So then, absent any other evidence, the primary proof of the Tea Party’s racism became its racial composition. Unfortunately, the hypothesis that ‘if a group, gathering, or organization is predominantly or almost entirely one race, then it must therefore be discriminatory against other races’ is invalid, especially in a primarily White country in which most gatherings are predominately White.
If we had to label Tea Parties as racist for no other reason but because they are according to most polls, 85% White, then we must also label every gathering or organization that is similarly White as racist. And that is how the argument falls apart. The Left cannot credibly maintain credibility charging that the racial composition of the Tea Parties is evidence of racism when so many Leftist groups are similarly White.
As Michelle Malkin pointed out when MSNBC made a similar observation about the lack of minorities at Tea Parties, all of the hosts of MSNBC shows are White. The DNC is mostly White, as is the staff of the NY Times, the Nation, the Huffington Post, and the New Republic. Amusingly, a recent video of the Anti-Tea Party rally showed a crowd that was as White as the Tea Party Rally. People in glass houses…Even many “Yes We Can” rallies that Barack Obama headed that were “mighty white,” especially in states like Iowa that are less than 3% Black. Of course it did not exactly help that its audience was reportedly deliberately skewered by attempting to stack the crowd with as many Whites as possible so as to not have Obama appear to be merely a candidate for minorities.
So, if the Tea Parties cannot be proven to be fringe or racist, then they must at least be ignorant (despite the NY Times’ survey) That is what is at the core of President Obama’s taunt that they should be thanking him, because surely an intelligent person would not be protesting higher taxes when his or her taxes have been cut. But are Tea Partiers complaining about their taxes being raised? According to “Contract From America,” the Tea Partiers are demanding a repeal of current tax hikes but rather the tax hikes they know are yet to come: “Stop the Tax Hikes: Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011." Unless Obama can assure them that these scheduled tax hikes will be vetoed, and that they will not be hit with a cap-and-trade tax or a VAT tax or any other such tax, instead of allowing his surrogates to repeatedly foreshadow that these taxes are inevitable, he can hardly expect the Tea Party, or any of the 66% of the Americans who feel that they are overtaxed already but see more taxes on the horizon, to feel any special gratitude towards him on the tax front.
So, having failed to silence the Tea Parties by these means, the Administration and its progressive allies are beginning to use a new tactic. The current meme is that the Tea Party protests are creating an atmosphere for right-wing anti-American terrorism. President Clinton apparently is spearheading this effort by repeatedly linking the Tea Party rallies to Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995: “Remember, words have consequences as much as actions do, and what we advocate, commensurate with our position and responsibility, we have to take responsibility for. We owe that to Oklahoma City."
Of course no one wants violence. And of course there will be always be those who wish to hurt a president because of the color of his skin, because he is too far to the left or to the right, or because their dog tells them that would be the best way to impress Jodie Foster. However, what makes Clinton’s words odd is that he used them to single out the Right for setting the stage for violence instead of chastising all protestors, including progressives - especially since political violence, hate talk, and death threats has primarily been tools of the Left. Just in the last few months we have seen Karl Rove nearly handcuffed onstage at a book reading, Sarah Palin having tomatoes thrown at her at a similar event, death threats being made to Eric Cantor, and NJ Republican Governor Chris Christie being “jokingly” made the subject of a death wish in an email circulated by the liberal teacher’s union. During the Bush years, threats against him were commonplace. There was even a movie that showed his assassination, as well as a celebration when some Iraqi twice attempted to throw a shoe in his face. No word from Bill lecturing us about how “words have consequences” after any of these incidents.
The ace card in the Left’s deck of ways to marginalize and silence the Tea Parties is labeling them as ‘Tea Baggers,’ referencing an…unusual sexual act. This is also the Left’s greatest favor to the Tea Party movement – even more so the other labels. The amazing thing about this term is although it is intended to conjure up a pornographic image, it is repeated in venues that no such term belongs, and by people who should know better. MSNBC anchors and commentators seem incapable of calling the Tea Partiers anything but Tea Baggers, even on their airwaves, and US Senators, such as former presidential candidate John Kerry, publicly use the term also. Obviously their desire to offend and show contempt outweighs both their respect for civility and the delicacies of their audience.
My observation is that when the average American sees these attacks upon the Tea Parties, upon people who seem no more villainous than their neighbor, people who don’t seem to be racist or terroristic or ignorant to any impartial observer, but labeled as such by a biased media for no other reason than for speaking out for some fairly mainstream American values, it creates a sympathy for the Tea Party which causes people to listen to arguments that would otherwise have fallen on deaf ears. And for those already in the movement, it serves as a slap in the face, providing an adrenalin rush to those who might be wearying of the battle. In fact, I get the sense that every time someone goes in front of an audience and used the term ‘Tea Bagger,’ somewhere, another person joins the Tea Party, and another one, already in the Tea Party, decides to fight that much harder. And for that, we should be thanking President Obama.