Thursday, April 16, 2009

Final Reflections on the Nation's Tea Parties

In the aftermath of yesterday's Tea Parties we can look with a new perspective over what it all meant.

The media coverage was as expected: CNN was nasty, FOX was favorable, as a rule. There were exceptions in all cases. There were a couple of pieces that I found interesting this morning, though. One was Ross Douthat who points out that in some regard the protests were slightly hypocritical in that nobody went to the streets to protest rising spending while Bush was in office. There is a tiny bit of merit in this stance except that while Bush was in office he was fighting two wars, among other things; and in truth, as Douthat also points out, many protesters were angry at the TARP bailout from the beginning. We know Bush did it. We aren't happy about that. We never called Bush a Messiah who could do no wrong. Still aren't.

Douthat misses a point, however, when he says "Obama is a very popular President, at the moment, his unpopularity among Republicans notwithstanding, and it's awfully hard to see the Tea Parties doing much to change that reality in the short run." While this is true, the protests were not simply about Obama. However much he likes for things to be all about him, these were not. The protest I attended had plenty of angry signs pointed at Senator Mary Landrieu, for example. People are angry at their own representatives who have not voted in a fiscally responsible way.

But to his credit, Douthat recognizes that people may have a cause to be alarmed:

"So if you're inclined to sneer and giggle at the Tea Parties, keep in mind that just because a group of protesters looks ragged, resentful, and naive, that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong to be alarmed":

Writing for the Wall Street Journal this morning, Karl Rove's assessment of the Tea Parties is that "Americans are reacting to runaway government spending that they were not told about before last year's election, and which Americans are growing to resent." Obama ran as a moderate but this is not "moderate" spending that he is proposing. Punk'd!

Rove rightly points out "In 2008, voters were less worried about taxes than they had been in previous elections. Why? Because the 15 years between President Bill Clinton's 1993 tax hike and Barack Obama's increase in cigarette taxes in February was the longest stretch in U.S. history without a federal tax increase. President George W. Bush's tax cuts also cut 13 million people on the lower-end of the income scale from the income tax rolls -- people who don't pay taxes aren't worried about the tax burden.

"So far, Mr. Obama has decided to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011 and avoid forcing Democrats to take a tough vote. But the tea parties reveal how hard it will be for the president to hide the Democrats' tax-and-spend tendencies from voters.

"Mr. Obama plans to boost federal spending 25% while nearly tripling the national debt over 10 years. Americans know that this kind of spending will have economic consequences, including new taxes being imposed by the new progressives."

Matt Miller, writing for The Daily Beast earlier this month, brought up Obama's dodge of a question by Chip Reid of CBS during the March 24 prime time press conference. Reid asked

“At both of your town-hall meetings in California last week, you said, quote, ‘I didn't run for president to pass on our problems to the next generation.’ But under your budget, the debt will increase $7 trillion over the next ten years. The Congressional Budget Office says $9.3 trillion. ... Isn't that kind of debt exactly what you were talking about when you said ‘passing on our problems to the next generation?’”

Obama dodged the question, blamed Bush and talked about projected economic growth. Miller contends that "Obama and his advisers expect to limit such debt via broader tax increases, presumably in a second term. As every honest observer knows ... once this recession is past, taxes will go up in the years ahead no matter who is in power."

The fact is that taxes will have to go up to pay for the programs Obama wants to put in place. And the "wealthy" can't pay for it all.

It will come down to all of us.

So back to the Tea Parties - what we have to remember is that Tea Party protests won't change what is coming; there is a rough road ahead. We can express our outrage and the march toward socialism, we can express our outrage at excessive and wasteful spending, we can express outrage over income redistribution and whatever else injustice floats your boat. But nothing will change unless we remember that when election time comes.

I'll leave it with a quote from Robert Stacy McCain from his own Tea Party adventure yesterday:

[You might be a right wing extremist if]. . . you believe the only reason you have First Amendment Rights is because of your Second Amendment rights.

Related Post: Shreveport/Bossier Tea Party


G.R. said...

Years ago I met a person who was extremely right wing, and he was a kook. Or at least I thought he was a kook. Turns out he was a prophet.

I won't call him by name, but if he ever reads this he'll know who I'm taking about. Hey man! Sorry I didn't believe you. You were right, I was wrong.

But the good thing is the Main Stream Media is reporting the water conditions are fine but is failing to report the riptide under the surface.

concoa said...

Resident of Bossier:
I was so proud of the turnout at the Tea Party! The level of participation was huge! The sign-up booth estimated over 5000 attended. And to think for each person there, how many wanted to but couldn't attend?

It wasn't an Obama-bashing. It was collective demand that ALL politicians start doing their job which is REPRESENTING THE CITIZENS. And, the need for citizens to hold them accountable, let them know what we think, and vote!

It was a good day in America. Hope to see more of them!