As usual, Matt Taibbi nails it. I’ve highlighted certain points below, but you should really read the whole article!
A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.
After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.
“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”
“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”
“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”
“Yeah,” he says, “but I don’t make very much.” Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about — and nowhere do we see that dynamic as clearly as here in Kentucky, where Rand Paul is barreling toward the Senate with the aid of conservative icons like Palin.
For almost two years we’ve all scratched our heads as Tea Partiers screamed about Government Spending and Socialism while simultaneously screaming Keep your hands off my Medicare! Taibbi is correct: “The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them.”
They also have several things in common according to Taibbi:
One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. (“Not me — I was protesting!” is a common exclamation.)
We’ve all heard this excuse. What we didn’t hear was their protesting of spending during the Bush years. In fact, their silence was deafening – and, let’s face it, we know how loud they can be.
Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with “people who do not cherish America the way we do” is that “they did not read the Federalist Papers.”)
But it’s more than their claim of being the only people in America who have read the Constitution, it’s their uncanny ability to channel the Founding Fathers. Perhaps dabbling in witchcraft is more common than we knew.
Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill “cracker babies,” support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Me thinks they doth protest too much on this point. And while I won’t accuse all (or even most) Tea Partiers of being racists, racists have found a welcoming, comfortable home in the Tea Party. That said, I think Taibbi’s take is spot on: “It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They’re completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I’m an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I’m a radical communist? I don’t love my country? I’m a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.
It’s not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It’s just that they’re shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.”
Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called “White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo,” checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.)
All of us have experienced this tactic. It’s the get out of racist statement free card. And it might carry more weight if every Tea Partier brought their best black friends to one of their rallies. Guess their black friends are always busy on those days.
Five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.
This is an oldie, but a goodie. No longer can good Americans disagree. If you disagree with the Tea Party you are the enemy, a threat to America, and, in some cases, should be eliminated. What’s so disturbing about this mindset is it isn’t hyperbole. It’s pervasive and consistent in the Tea Party, from the highest levels to the lowest foot soldier. There’s also a small group of Tea Partiers salivating at the chance to employ those second amendment remedies… and some of their comments don’t strike me as blowing off steam, although a lot of them are – some of these comments are deadly serious and are being spewed by future lone wolves. Lone wolves who have also found a welcoming, comfortable home in the Tea Party.