The Best Description Of The Tea Party – Ever

Filed in National by on September 29, 2010

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.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (24)

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  1. Auntie Dem says:

    We all know “personal progressives”. They are the single issue folks who join the progressive movement because they have a personal agenda, like healthcare, that they want to advance. In fact, they aren’t progressive at all. They just want a bigger piece of the pie for whatever is ailing them. In the tea party we see their right-wing counterparts who want more,more,more, as long as it doesn’t go to anybody with brown skin.

    When I’m talking to my wrinklie friends and tell them that they have been on welfare (Social Security) for a very long time they simply go ballistic. When I point out that their checks come from the US Treasury and are paid for by all the young people who are still working they aren’t even a tiny bit embarrassed.

  2. I don’t know how you reason with people like that. It’s like a significant part of the country is just anti-reason. Government spending is o.k. for me but I don’t want other people to get the money. Do they understand how much government it would really take to pick and choose and why do they think they know who’s worthy? It’s a group of people with a huge sense of entitlement and a false sense of persecution. It’s the whole “screw you, I’ve got mine” that is so infuriating.

  3. Aoine says:

    Auntie Dem – I absolutely agree with you – I have seen that as well – the folks with conditions and age creeping that may have supported Bush years ago are now scared and are coming over to the progressives for help.

    self-serving at its best – but hey – if they vote our way I say good!

    remind your wrinkly friends that their money also comes from the 2/3 OR 75% OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS that work and pay into the system – they might stroke out on the spot right there do – so do it gently….

    Pandora – GREAT POST!! – I took a little liberty with selcting some bites and posting them “elsewhere”
    I am the bomb tosser…

  4. Dr. Strangevote says:

    Pandora, a hat tip to one of the best posts of the year. They are narcissists, and that is relfected in their approach to spending. They want to cut government, but never, ever, the programs that pay for them.

  5. anon says:

    It is a fad and kind of a cliche nowadays to diagnose any kind of behavior as narcissism. Narcissism is broad enough any decent writer can make a case for it as an explanation for anything.

    I thought the diagnosis of “full of shit” was much more on target.

  6. pandora says:

    LOL, anon! That was more on target.

    The real problem with Tea Partiers (no matter what we label it) is their ability to excuse the lies of people they support – lies they would have a screaming fit over if the person was a liberal/progressive/Dem. (see O’Donnell, Christine) and their ability to justify their government hand-outs.

  7. Joe Cass says:

    Absolutely wonderful post, although I wish you could have worked in the evangelist angle as well.

  8. a. price says:

    man. I think I like Matt Taibbi more than Hunter S Thompson as a national affairs commenter. and that is saying quite a lot.

  9. JustMe says:

    “No longer can good Americans disagree. If you disagree with the Tea Party Progressives/Liberals/Obama/Democrats 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 Left, from the highest levels to the lowest foot soldier DelawareLiberal.”

    There, I fixed it for you. Just look back at the number of posts here calling for people you disagree with to be “rounded up and shot” etc. etc.

    motes and beams, glass houses/stones. etc.

  10. Geezer says:

    Nice try, but there was exactly one comment about shooting Republicans, and Delaware Republicans have pretty much never shut up about it. And when we point out the threat you pose to America, we don’t accuse you of doing it for the specific purpose of destroying the country. So yes, it is Just You.

  11. JustMe says:

    Look, I used to come here when it was possible to have something approaching reasoned disagreement. That isn’t possible anymore. Do you really think this site does anything besides heap scorn upon people who disagree with you? Look, I don’t agree with progressive/liberals on many things. That doesn’t mean I want them dead or think they’re deliberately trying to ruin the country or turn it into a socialist state or whatever. Nor do I think they’re all stupid. I just think they’re wrong. That sentiment is sorely lacking on both sides. Tip O’Neill used to hammer and bash his opponents all day long on policy and go for drinks with them at the end of the day. Those are the days I miss. Now it’s nothing but partisan rancor. Any deviation from the most extreme position gets you driven out and ridiculed.

    I followed DV here and for a time he was the voice of the sane left until he caved and joined Jason330 in the “just how evil are Republicans” bandwagon.

  12. I’ll believe the “both sides are extreme” argument when you show me an example of a Democratic candidate talking about 2nd amendment remedies or discussing which amendments should be repealed.

  13. plslouise says:

    “personal progressives”! What a bunch of crap! Single issue people? You obviously have progressives mixed up with liberals who rarely see an issue through to completion. They cave too early in the game, like health care, like Wall Street reform, or Campaign Finance Reform. Talk a lot, but when the chips are down, you dont have the cahones to fight for the whole pie.

  14. Aoine says:

    UI – well said – we don’t advocate over here for 2nd ammendment remedies, government overthrow, winning by any means necessary, the unemployed are “lazy” and “spoiled” digging up muslims graves, burning mosques, or rounding up illegal aliens with shotguns in truck in Georgetown etc…you can find all that over on DP.

    we would much rather duke it out verbally and go drinking afterward

    but if masturbation, adultry, sex, booze and other substances are off the table – what is left to keep us sane??

    plus – they don’t bash me for my bad typing skills – far fewer sticks inserted up anal cavities in here

  15. JustMe says:

    UI: the benchmark for “extreme” is advocating 2nd Amendment remedies? If so, you need look no further than Delaware Dem.

    “You fucking Republicans are all to blame. Your advocacy of deregulation for the last 30 years is responsible. The greed that underlies your policies and that invades your supporters was your motivation. You put yourselves and your wallets first, and our country last. You should all be round up and shot. Seriously.”

    That kind of 2nd Amendment advocacy? Not one of the blog owners made a peep about it either. Where was your concern for violence then? Where were your concerns of violence when anti-war rallies had signs advocating the murder of the President? Or military officers?

    Violent extremism is a bad thing or it isn’t. To deny that a violent strain exists on the Left is to deny reality.

  16. anon says:

    Except for the “rounded up and shot” part, Delaware Dem is right on the money.

    Show me one retraction and apology from the right to match Delaware Dem’s.

  17. Joe Cass says:

    JustMe, seems like you’re blowing smoke. Certainly you don’t want to be bunched in with the extremists on the right but you cherry pick one blogger’s post of frustration and paint the entire site with that brush. How many plots have you hatched to murder OB/GYNs? See how it works?
    “I used to come here when it was possible to have something approaching reasoned disagreement.” The question is do you go to the rats nest sites and disagree reasonably with them? Do you even have a voice there? Doubtful, because its Just You

  18. JustMe says:

    @Joe Cass

    That’s my point. You take a random example and extrapolate to the entire movement yet you bristle when they do the same.

    I agree that I can rarely disagree with much of the right as they see me as an apostate or whatever.

    Bottom line. I want less power in DC. I want devolution of power to the states and the people. We are over regulated and over taxed. Washington needs to tighten it’s belt not you and me.

  19. Joe Cass says:

    @JustMe I am hardly typical of this site. I don’t even know them but …what thats smell?…smells like…smells like…
    You get the point. Great idea, let the states hammer away at each other. Pissed about toll roads? Red light cams? Boner Ordinances?
    We’re talking 48 contiguous cat fights. You’d need a passport just to enter Alabama! Why you’d want to go to Alabama is anyone guess. We’re a UNION! We have a federal daddy to pull the car over and slap you when you get silly. It seems that the bigger kids don’t get slapped nearly enough, they get bribed with larger allowances. We call them red states. Tiny blue Delaware is one of the brood that pays the welfare,medicare, flood and tornado insurance of those red states. We get our beaches replenished. DC has no power over you. Make phone calls and write your representatives. Don’t make me come back there.

  20. jason330 says:

    “Bottom line. I want less power in DC” (so more power to corporations. They can be trusted.) ” I want devolution of power to the states and the people.” (See catfights above) ” We are over regulated” (unless you actually look at the facts) “and over taxed.” (Unless you compared us to other industrialized countries)

    In other words, I’m a stupid parrot who will repeat any nonsense that I hear on TV.

  21. Exhausted says:

    Whoa @Joe Cass. I need to re-read that last one when I’m sober. Daddy analogies FTW.

  22. Joe Cass says:

    daddy analogies “fuck the world”? I don’t know what your drinking, but I want some.(as long as i can pass daddy’s p cup)There are web sites out there for ya, fella.

  23. Just Me: Show me an elected Democratic official or candidate that has said anything close to what Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Steve King, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin say on a regular basis. One post by one blogger which was soundly condemned by everyone on the site (and retracted) is not the same thing. I know DD is a great writer but he’s not got the power that an elected official has.

  24. anonone says:

    Um, how about Obomba ordering secret assassinations of American citizens?