Writing about the Republican Party's ambivalent attraction to the Tea Party movement, Dan Eggen and Perry Bacon Jr.‘s September 12th column in The Washington Post, “GOP Sees Protest As an Opportunity,” attaches more importance to today's march and protest than liberals would like to concede. What follows here is an expansion of my comments left on the Post comment page.
With tens of thousands of conservative protesters expected to gather in Washington on Saturday for a "Taxpayer March on D.C.," Republican officials are attempting to capitalize on a movement that lately has galvanized anti-Obama activists more effectively than the party's elected leaders in Washington.
Taking into account the usual vitriolic, name-calling, emotionalist comments posted here by welfare state advocates, I have this to say about Eggen and Bacon Jr.'s article: While it is the least biased piece I've seen in the Post concerning the Tea Partiers in a long while, it is still a tad slanted and inaccurate in its content.
First, the authors confess that, low and behold, the Tea Partiers are not a conspiracy cooked up by the Republican Party and insurance companies, as many Democrats have charged. They are "a loose-knit coalition of groups that helped to organize health-care protests...and anti-tax rallies in the spring." The authors might have also mentioned that tens of thousands of these "mobsters" were Americans who carried signs and asked inconvenient questions of their representatives at town hall meetings of their own volition, without being asked or prompted by anyone else, moved by their own anger and concerns.
If the Republicans were truly the culprits behind these "rowdy hooligans," why are they, on the one hand, eager to "embrace" them, and, on the other, afraid to? Eggen and Bacon Jr. attempt to answer that question, but fail to shed any light on that anxiety.
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
Searching for ways to compete with Democrats after two consecutive electoral drubbings, Republicans have moved past earlier uncertainty about the protesters, who organized nationwide rallies this summer that have threatened Democratic health-care plans and eroded President Obama's standing with the public.
Yes, those rallies have contributed to the threat against Democratic health-care plans, and moved many Republicans to dig in their heels over the bill’s costs and intrusive nature. That tactic, however, is but disputing the details of slavery, but not the slavery itself. And, as three articles have pointed out, the protesters did not “erode” President Obama’s standing with the public. He accomplished that himself. John Lewis of Duke University in The Objective Standard, Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal, and Geoffrey P. Hunt in an article in American Thinker, address the phenomena of Obama’s plummeting fortunes in all matters from three unique perspectives. Lewis, however, makes the most salient observation. Noting the Republicans’ failure to oppose the Democratic agenda over the decades, he writes:
Republicans should have brought forward a positive, principled alternative to the statist trend years ago. They failed. Obama has now done the job for them. He has presented the stark alternative from the other side, by specifying and demanding a comprehensive agenda that carries no pretense of individual liberty. He has created an alarming sense of urgency by demanding that this agenda be made into law now. [Italics mine.]
There may be "tens of thousands of conservative protesters" in the DC march, but also tens of thousands of independents and former Obama supporters who are, at the very least, literally disenchanted with their former idol.
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other Republicans, said there is an "opportunity for Republicans" to tap into legitimate fears about an overreaching federal government. But he said that "right-wing nutballs are aligning themselves with these movements" and are dominating media coverage. "It's bad for Republicans because in the absence of any real leadership, the freaks fill the void and define the party," McKinnon said.
Freaks? Right-wing nutballs? Eggen and Bacon Jr. could have mentioned that Sam Adams was considered "rowdy" and a "troublemaker," while Patrick Henry's Stamp Act Resolves of 1765 contained, according to the conservatives of his day, language too "violent" and "disrespectful." Revolutions are not made by meek, humble milquetoasts afraid to take a stand on crucial issues and who settled for a tsk-tsk against Joe Wilson for stating a truth. To paraphrase Henry: If I am a freakish nutball, then I shall make the most of it, because you, Mr. McKinnon, stand for nothing but compromise and cowardice.
The authors report that "Some protesters this year have loudly disrupted community meetings, brought guns to Obama events and likened the president to Adolf Hitler,” and that
…top Republican strategists and many party observers also worry about the impact that the most extreme protesters might have on the party's image, including those who carry swastika signs or obsess over the veracity of Obama's Hawaiian birth.
And? Never mind that the authors neglect to mention that in 2004, George W. Bush was vilified by Democratic protesters sporting offensive signs that likened him to Hitler and worse, and who also disrupted political rallies and community meetings. Unlike the “loose coalition of groups,” those disruptions were organized by Democratic Party proxies.
Guns? The only reported instance of someone bringing a gun to a rally was deliberately misreported by MSNBC. The person who appeared at the rally, at which Obama was scheduled to speak, was characterized by the network as a crazy, gun-toting racist, when it was a black man who opposes Obama’s and Congress’s health care legislation. Obama’s Hawaiian birth? If this is so bogus and desperate a charge, why has not Obama addressed the issue and laid it to rest?
Eggen and Bacon Jr. must agree, however, that try as he might, Bush could never have aspired to be like Hitler even if he tried. He had neither the “charisma” nor the rhetorical skills. And, are the authors so clueless that they could not see that Obama's tactics and rhetoric these last six months -- never mind during the 2008 campaign -- are too "Hitlerian" for words? His charisma and rhetoric still seduce the devoted and those who judge issues by their emotions, while they repel anyone with a definable sense of self and self-worth.
In an attempt to portray the typical Tea Partier as mentally unbalanced, Eggen and Bacon Jr. report:
One blogger who writes regularly for Freedomworks, Ross Kaminsky of Boulder, Colo., compared Obama's Tuesday address to U.S. schoolchildren to the tactics of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and other murderous dictators. "Totalitarians of all stripes put great emphasis on brainwashing the young, and Obama is no exception," he wrote on the group's Web site under the name "rossputin."
Ross Kaminsky is right: although the authors try to paint him and his words in a bad light, Obama's address to school children was the ruse of a nascent totalitarian to capture the minds and loyalty of those children. See my article, “Obama: Seducer of the Young.”
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
At the event on Thursday, activists shouted "Liar!" at the mention of Obama's name, just hours after GOP leaders had condemned Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for a similar outburst during Obama's speech to Congress the evening before. Protesters also shouted "No more czars!" -- a reference to a line of conservative attack on administration appointments that has emerged from Beck's show.
So, the authors are conceding that the protesters are no longer “mobsters” or “hooligans,” but activists? What a change of tune! The authors could have dwelt on the “No more czars” outburst, asking the question of why Obama has circumvented Senate confirmation proceedings for these unelected and wholly unconstitutional satraps, and why the protesters oppose them so much. But, they did not ask that question.
There is much more that can be said about Eggen and Bacon Jr.'s article. But they miss the point as much as do the anxious Republicans. The Republicans have got to shape up -- that is, think -- and stand for what their party name connotes: Champions of individual rights, the separation of not only church and state, but of the economy and state, of freedom of speech, and the right of individuals to live their own lives free of government interference and guidance.
Focusing on Republican hand-wringing over the protests, Eggen and Bacon Jr. report:
"It is good to see that there are some Republican elected officials, especially people from Congress right now, who are paying attention to us and interested in what we're doing," said Jenny Beth Martin of Atlanta, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots who was previously active in GOP politics in Georgia. "But there's a sense of distrust among many people who have considered themselves Republicans in the past. When they were in the majority and were in the White House, they squandered that opportunity."
Given Republican behavior in the past, especially in Republican endorsement of policies that differ little from Obama’s except in their scope, that distrust is legitimate. American eyes are opening to the fraud and deceit practiced by both parties, and today’s protest is a rejection in toto of those shared policies, fraud and deceit. Will the Republicans grasp that fact? Or will they evade their collective guilt and squander an opportunity to redeem themselves by siding in toto with the 9/12 Tea Party?
Anything less than an across-the-board commitment to freedom would be a cruel fraud, just as Bush and the Republicans posing (and accused by Democrats) as advocates of free enterprise was a fraud and a hoax. Without committing themselves to the fundamental principles adhered to and implemented by the Founders, the Republicans may as well not bother trying to "embrace" today's protests.