Clarence Page: 'Is The Tea Party Over?'
Want to know just how scared of the Tea Party America's media are?
On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page published a column entitled "Is The Tea Party Over?":
Has the tea party peaked? Republican lawmakers affiliated with the upstart anti-tax movement scored big in the nerve-racking debt-ceiling debacle, but the victory left enough hard feelings to feed the movement's ultimate defeat.
So let's understand Page's thinking.
The Tea Party nine months ago scored a huge victory assisting Republicans to the biggest midterm election landslide in decades.
The following month, before any of these Tea Partiers had even been sworn into Congress, the President and his Party caved into their wishes by extending the Bush tax cuts.
Last week, the President and his Party caved into Tea Party demands to not have tax increases as part of the debt ceiling agreement.
And it is the Tea Party that is in danger of "ultimate defeat?"
Let's hear more:
Polls indicate growing numbers of the public think the teas have become part of the problem they came to Washington to cure.
Fully 82 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress' performance in the hard-fought debt limit debate, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. People love to hate Congress, even when they like their own congressman. But this was Congress' highest disapproval rating, the pollsters said, since they began asking the question in 1977.
And public disapproval of the tea party doubled to 40 percent from 18 percent when that question was first asked in April 2010.
So a New York Times/CBS News poll finds 40 percent disapprove of the Tea Party. Given how so-called "news" outlets like the Times and CBS have been mercilessly pounding on Tea Party members for over two years, is that surprising?
Frankly, it's more shocking given the negative media coverage of this group that more Americans don't disapprove of it.
But the only poll that really matters happens on Election Day, and the last one was quite good for the Tea Party.
Page sees this as old news:
Tea party freshmen faced a more conservative electorate in the 2010 midterms than the larger turnout that's expected in a presidential year. Yet they continue to push further right. Let the voters decide.
That's a good point, for midterm elections are typically more participated in by conservatives than liberals with 2006 being a notable exception. As such, history would suggest at least a more moderate turnout next November.
However, with the economy weakening, a credit rating downgrade, and monstrous budget deficits as far as the eye can see, it seems specious to project the public rising against the only movement preaching fiscal sanity.
Page doesn't see it that way:
Grass-roots movements are like bees, an old saying goes, they sting and then they die. The tea party, like the original Boston Tea Party, fits what the founders called a movement of the moment. Like others, the teas are likely to melt, at best, into one of the major parties.
Maybe, but this might be wishful thinking.
The reality is the Tea Party is the most powerful grassroots movement to hit America's shores in decades, and its real power and impact might yet to be fully felt.
This seems especially likely given the trajectory of the economy, the debt, and which Party has basically been in control of government since the downturn happened and the deficit exploded.
What Page ignored in his piece is that the nation made a huge turn to the left in 2006 and 2008 in the hopes that the imposition of non-Republican views would improve America.
When the Democrats took over Congress in January 2007, unemployment was 4.4 percent. It is now 9.1 percent.
The budget deficit created by the outgoing Republican Congress was only $161 billion. It is now $1.6 trillion.
The total outstanding debt in January 2007 was $8.7 trillion. It is now $14.6 trillion.
And, before the Democrats took control of everything, America's credit rating was AAA. It is now AA+.
If Page thinks Americans are going to look at what's happened in the past four years and blame it all on the Tea Party I've got some swampland in Florida I'd like to show him.