Published April 21, 2009
An old college friend of mine asked me last week if I had attended a Tea Party. The first I heard about these was on Tax Day itself, which clearly means I don't watch enough cable news.
The movement — if that’s what it is — was spawned by a rant on Feb. 19 from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during a live report by the CNBC reporter — if that’s what he is — Rick Santelli, suggesting that it was time to organize a “tea party” to protest government spending on failed mortgages.
The cable news networks took it from there. Fox News, after running more than 100 promos about its coverage of the event, which did a pretty effective job of marketing them at the same time, had wall-to-wall coverage on the anointed day and dispatched four of its leading hosts around the country to perform a kind of hybrid task, covering events that they also seemed to be leading.
My friend gushed about his experience, "I felt like part of history. Almost like you could roll the clock back 225 years and see the colonists assembling." Back then, the media were fiercely partisan, framing the day's news in terms of ideological leaning, so the comparison may be very appropriate indeed.
I have become exhausted by the talking heads, and I have watched very little news since the inauguration. It's just hard to get pumped up about the news when it's all about the miserable economy; and when it's not, it's this faux populism of the likes of Glenn Beck and Rick Santelli. Populism in pursuit of ratings, not politics.
If the goal were pure political progress, then the Republicans would have been crying foul for the last eight years while more money than has been dreamed of in President Obama's stimulus was poured down the drain of war in the Middle East.
And in Texas, Governor Rick Perry praised the assembled throng in Austin, whose cries of "Secede!" found no rebuke.
Afterward, he told reporters that Texas had come into the union with a unique right “to leave if we decided to do that.” This is a beloved piece of state folklore despite its unfortunate drawback of being totally untrue.
Haven't we been hearing for the last eight years how we need to support the troops by supporting America and the President? I guess that was just if he was a Texan, and GOP, and named Bush.
So, spare me the rhetoric about bureaucratic spending. I'd rather spend a trillion dollars at home than abroad. Sure, it would be nice if we didn't have to spend anything, but when no one is spending, that's when the government has to fill the gap.
Just ask Alexander Hamilton; he would've understood.