Coming to grips with Tea Party reality

The Tea Party movement, which has been positioning itself as a wielder of measurable influence in American politics, certainly for the current election cycle, elicited some provocative comment from Tom Friedman of The New York Times in a recent piece. Opting to re-designate the phenomenon the “Tea Kettle movement,” because “all it’s doing is letting off steam,” Friedman dismissed it not as a cause without validity but because it had so far failed to advance any serious policy direction for addressing those(favorite-whipping-boy) issues like expansive government and deficit spending that have provided the Tea Partiers with their battle cry of choice.

You could perhaps focus on one portion of the article to find revealed why there isn’t likely to be anytime soon the kind of credible policy enunciation Friedman thinks to be lacking and instead find what has been, from inception, a core component of what makes this movement run. Wrote Friedman: “And how can you take seriously a movement that sat largely silent while the Bush administration launched two wars and a new entitlement, Medicare prescription drugs – while cutting taxes – but is now, suddenly, mad as hell about the deficit and won’t take it anymore from President Obama? Say what? Where were you folks for eight years?”

Right about here comes the need to reference that, never mind the sorcery or whatever peculiar activity of hers has lately come to public notice, when Christine O’Donnell walked front and center in Delaware the night she gained the Republican Senate nomination, a Black dude was prominently positioned right behind her. We don’t know whether this guy’s conspicuous presence was some deft staging or if his campaign work for O’Donnell entitled him to such prime placement on the victory platform. We suspect that O’Donnell campaign honchos would have done some orchestrating of that “right look” that night. Somewhat like when the Tea Party high command, earlier this summer, was no doubt very encouraging of another alleged “frontline” person of color sounding off about the expulsion of one Mark Williams, after a vulgar, racist “Letter to Abe Lincoln” bit that was Williams’ “satirical” contribution at a Tea Party gathering.

These and a few others have all been pathetic efforts at finding cover after the NAACP formalized what everyone certainly has known save perhaps for the most incomprehensibly dense among us: that racism abounds in the Tea Party ranks. No outside assistance would have been required, presumably, so to conclude, after last summer’s despicable outbreaks of anti-Obama, anti-Black venom in those town hall meetings ostensibly protesting the administration’s health care reform initiative.

For no reason I can think of that makes sense, some supposedly objective players in the arena have been reluctant to publicly affirm that reality we know well. It’s silly to pussyfoot around the point Tom Friedman raised about these folks being so docile for eight years of Bush and suddenly can’t take it anymore from Obama, when it’s all so self-explanatory: President Obama has the “wrong” look, is all!

There’s been an uncanny quality to this midterm elections year, and not the least contributor to this has been the masking of a more toxic underbelly that a struggling economy has provided for Tea Party types in their constant state of readiness to rumble. A mere incidental mention of racism in some observers’ read of this Tea Party wave washing over the political landscape borders on disingenuousness. It’s too much of a stretch for us to accept that the Tea Party rank and file acquired, out of the blue, the sophisticated smarts about fiscal conservatism, tax policy, government’s interface with big business and all the rest, for these to have formed the bedrock of strident opposition we’ve had coming out of that quarter . The focus on fiscal issues, for the most part, craftily adopted by Tea Party demagogues sells well in a time of economic uncertainty but more so to a supporting mass whose point of departure in all this, most importantly, is a visceral distaste for the country’s current head policy shaper.

And of course no perspective on the Tea Party movement’s maneuvering to stir the pot politically would dare exclude the role Sarah Palin has been carving for herself. Damned if this lady doesn’t really believe she has earned the right to be considered presidential material! Palin has become, for many Tea Party wannabes, heavy artillery. In line with which, she’s come to the assistance of candidates of her choosing…backed some winners too.

Although there are many of us utterly bemused by the idea that an individual of such staggering intellectual vacancy could command this kind of national attention, that’s what we’ve got, folks. If Palin’s game plan is to amass markers enough to be called in, to give her a leg up on the Republican presidential nomination, maybe she should proceed in such fashion. Although the American electorate has been known to turn in bouts of absolutely confounding behavior, we’re betting here that voting in Palin as president would be a bit too far outside the box.

Palin has said she’s no racist. We don’t know if that’s true but that concerns us more than her angling for a presidential run. The NAACP called on Palin and other leaders to condemn racism in the Tea Party. More than just condemn, we’d demand that they eliminate it – a much taller order, given the stock.

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