Eliot Spitzer used his last day at CNN to take a shot at cable news and decry the debt ceiling debate as a "new low for American politics" – although he himself was embroiled in an ugly scandal as governor of New York only three years ago. And he made sure to include a lengthy Constitutional conversation with two of his favorite guests, liberals Fareed Zakaria and Simon Schama.
Schama, a professor of History at Columbia University, has criticized the Tea Party's reverence for the Founders' "infallibility," and snorted that they believed the Constitution to be "quasi-biblical revelation." The Columbia University professor wrote in a June 26 Newsweek piece that "True history is the enemy of reverence."
Tuesday’s notorious column from the New York Times’s “conservative” David Brooks, “The Mother of All No-Brainers,” in which he accused Tea Party sympathizers of having "no sense of moral decency," is getting fulsome praise from staunch conservatives like Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Here’s Politico:
Reid, on the floor on Tuesday, gave his approval to many of the points Brooks made in his piece.
“I repeat: a conservative columnist said this,” Reid said, according to prepared remarks. “The Republican Party has been taken over by ideologues either devoted to or terrified by Grover Norquist and his no-tax pledge.”
While the Tea Party movement has largely been viewed as a resurgence in conservative values away from big government Republican politicians, its fiscal policies are attracting a new crowd: fiscally conservative Democrats.
With remarks from both Rep. Michele Bachmann and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele that the Tea Party embraces a number of disaffected Democrats, but arguments from Democrats that the Tea Party will never vote for anyone besides a Republican, it remains unclear what effect the more liberal faction of the Tea Party will have on the 2012 elections.
Check out analysis of the Tea Party minority group after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.
In his coverage of this weekend's We The People Convention in Columbus, Ohio early Saturday morning, Columbus Dispatch reporter Ben Geier found it "surprising" that many attendees would "go after the Republican Party and House Speaker John Boehner" in expressing their opinions relating to developments in Washington. It's as if he's totally unaware of what the movement's leading members and its grass roots activists have been saying (and proving) since the first anti-stimulus rallies in early 2009 (and at earlier events--see this comment below), since Utah Tea Partiers unceremoniously ousted supposedly entrenched incumbent Bob Bennett in May 2010, and since Ohio Tea Partiers ran serious but largely unsuccessful opposition candidates for State Auditor, Secretary of State, and the State Republican Party's Central Committee slots that spring.
Since Rip Van Geier missed it, here's the message: The Tea Party movement isn't about propping up a party; it's about electing sensible, Constitution-following conservatives to political office regardless of party, revising state and federal laws to reflect constitutional principles, and of course educating the general populace about those principles and their importance.
Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared her candidacy for president Monday, and CNN provided plenty of snarky commentary with which to welcome her. The network repeatedly took aim at her past gaffes and suggested that she has little chance to win the Republican nomination for president.
In addition, CNN's Anderson Cooper led his regular news cast for two nights in a row touting the congresswoman's "hypocrisy" in championing small government while benefitting from a family farm and her husband's counseling clinic, both of which received federal funds – although Cooper himself admitted the total amount was "relatively small."
Columbia University professor Simon Schama made his Newsweek debut yesterday with a blog post that indirectly attacked Tea Party activists and conservatives for what Schama considers a historically illiterate ancestor worship of the Founding Fathers.
"The Constitution’s framers were flawed like today’s politicians, so it’s high time we stop embalming them in infallibility," snarked the subheading for Schama's June 26 post.
Yet in a June 16 page A3 story on the Wednesday release of congressional financial disclosure statements -- the very documents from which the Pelosi figure was calculated -- Washington Post reporters David Fahrenthold and Karen Yourish instead chose to focus on Republican freshmen congressmen with debt, hinting at hypocrisy for having campaigned on reining in spending in Washington (emphasis mine):
In his newest CNN.com op-ed titled "Don't Doom GOP's Chance to Win in 2012," David Frum clearly outlines the Republican Party's best chance for victory – if they don't come off as "Medicare-annihilating racist maniacs." He then goes about making the case that Republicans are doing just that.
"It is Tea Party conservatism itself that is Obama's last, best hope for a second term," Frum boldly concludes in a stinging indictment of the Tea Party.
He claims that the Republicans' refusal to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agrees to the Ryan budget plan is akin to the "militant wing" of the party mounting a coup and dragging the GOP to defeat in 2012.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R.) announced today that she will be taking a bus tour that tellingly will begin with a visit to the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and then head north through historical sites associated with the nation’s founding, heading in the general direction of … New Hampshire.
“Our nation is at a critical turning point,” Palin said in a posting on the website of her political action committee. “As we look to the future, we are propelled by America's past. It's imperative that we connect with our founders, our patriots, our challenges and victories to clearly see our way forward.”
The tour will begin Sunday in Washington, D.C. during the 24th “Rolling Thunder” gathering, an annual Memorial Day weekend event that brings thousands of motorcyclists, veterans and other patriots to the National Mall to draw attention to prisoners of war and those missing in action from U.S. military engagements.
New York Magazine apparently believes that opposing foreign aid is literally xenophobic - rooted in irrational fear of foreigners - and is willing to engage in some pretty sketchy journalistic practices to make its case. Those are a pair of lessons Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., learned on Tuesday.
If the Wall Street Republicans and the conservative Republicans don't resolve their differences and work as a TEAM ("together everyone achieves more"), we will go back to having a Democratic majority in Congress and President Barack Obama will be re-elected for another four years.
Ripples began to form last year when then Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky spouted what some say were typical libertarian views but what to others sounded like criticisms of the fixed and firm Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Pro-government union protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere have provided some stunning insight into the double standards that pervade coverage of major protest movements. One such double standard lies in media treatment of threats against public officials. News of the release of more than 100 pages of documented threats against officials of both parties in Wisconsin has brought that double standard to light.
Very often such threats are most intensely focused on a single individual perceived as the leader of the ideological or political opposition. President Obama was the target of perhaps less overt, if certainly as menacing threats during the early stages of his administration when a handful of demonstrators brought firearms to a presidential town hall meeting. That of course dominated the airwaves for the following week, as many in the media bemoaned what they presented almost uniformly as hints at assassination.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, like President Obama, became the target of much of the rage from pro-union demonstrators. And like Obama, Walker received some very vocal - and in many cases more overt - threats against his life. Unlike threats against the president, however, those directed at Walker have received scant press attention outside of Wisconsin media.
Can someone call himself a Tea Party candidate even though he has no visible support from local Tea Party groups and has been asked by one of them not to run? The Associated Press's Carolyn Thompson apparently thinks so.
Thompson's 3:03 p.m. report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) makes no mention of congressional candidate Jack Davis's lack of Tea Party group support. The AP reporter also waited until the final paragraph of her 17-paragraph report to tell readers that Davis is "a wealthy Republican businessman" who ran for Congress in 2004, 2006, and 2008 -- as a Democrat.
The large body of evidence that Davis is not a legitimate Tea Party candidate consists of at least the following:
In an interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner on Tuesday's Today on NBC, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the upcoming debate on raising the nation's debt limit: "...after the news surfaced that Osama bin Laden had been killed there was this – a good feeling in this country....Are we going to see that unity shattered in the coming weeks when we start to debate things like the debt ceiling?"
Boehner explained the importance of addressing the issue: "45 of the last 50 years we spent more money than what we brought in. We cannot continue to do that without imprisoning the future for our kids and grandkids. So this is the moment, now, to address those problems as adults." In response, Lauer quoted Boehner's recent call for cutting trillions in spending and wondered: "When you look at the gut-wrenching negotiations that took place to get $39 billion in cuts for the 2011 continuing resolution, how in the world are you going to get trillions of dollars in cuts?"
Steinhauer’s profile, while not overtly hostile, contained no less than eight ideological labels to describe the “conservative” West, not including the first word of the headline, while his comments on feminism and support for Israel were labeled “incendiary.” This from a newspaper that constantly refers to the truly incendiary Al Sharpton as a “civil rights activist.” A sampling:
But the most compelling part of Representative Allen B. West of Florida is his own biography, there for all to see: an African-American Tea Party activist Republican congressman and ally of hard-right Israelis who, after his beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud, defeated the sitting Democrat in a largely white, politically polarized district here and quickly became one of the right’s most visible spokesmen.
Mr. West’s popularity among conservatives goes far beyond South Florida. He was chosen to give the keynote speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and is frequently featured on the Fox News Channel and in other conservative settings where he enjoys explaining, reiterating or unleashing any number of incendiary remarks concerning what he often calls “the other side.”
CBS's Early Show on Wednesday played up how opponents of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan shouted down GOP representatives at recent town hall meetings, but downplayed them as "less than friendly," and marveled at their apparently "poignant" questions. The network also omitted how liberal groups targeted these meetings, and trumpeted the "nasty national shouting match" at health care town hall meetings in 2009.
News anchor Jeff Glor noted how "House Republicans are back home for the first time since passing an aggressive deficit cutting plan, including the architect of that plan, Congressman Paul Ryan." Glor used the "less than friendly" label immediately before playing a clip of an unidentified protester shouting, "Ryan, stop lying!" outside a town hall meeting held by the Republican in Wisconsin, and another of a woman who directly accused him of "screwing our generation and the next generation."
For the second day in a row, MSNBC's Chris Matthews excoriated the Tea Party, trashing them as supporting cuts in Medicaid because that's a program for "poor people." On Thursday's Hardball, however, he added a new attack, asserting that Tea Partiers don't like Medicaid because it's used by "minorities."
Talking to Newsweek's Richard Wolffe, Matthews cited a Marist poll showing little appetite for cuts to the program. After noticing that the highest level of support for reductions comes from self-identified Tea Partiers, the host smeared, "And the only one the Tea Party people want to cut is Medicaid because it's for poor people and minorities."
Brooks Thistlethwaite -- who previously hit Tea Party conservatives as tribalistic -- apparently believes that politically conservative Christians are trying to serve two masters, Jesus and Ayn Rand (emphasis mine):
Appearing on Sunday’s Today show on NBC, Meet the Press host David Gregory seemed to lump people who think President Obama is "the worst President" or who "don’t like the President" in with "extremists" as he explained real estate developer Donald Trump’s appeal among some Republican voters as a potential presidential candidate.
After co-anchor Natalie Morales cited poll numbers showing Trump topping other potential Republican candidates, Gregory gave his explanation for the support:
Part of that, he’s got name recognition, he’s got money, and he's out there talking in a way that is attention-seeking and attention-grabbing, whether he's talking about the President's birth certificate which is a settled issue or talking about him being the worst President in the United States. So he's going to reach some of those extremists who don't like the President and will be able to grab some of that attention.
Below is a transcript of a greater portion of Gregory’s words from the Sunday, April 17, Today show on NBC:
CBS's Jan Crawford spotlighted the Tea Party movement on Monday's Early Show, but also played up how it might present a "challenge" for potential Republican presidential candidates due its apparent unpopularity: "Recent polls show 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement. So candidates looking for Tea Party votes have to be careful not to alienate moderates."
Midway through her report, after noting the would-be GOP presidential candidates, such as Tim Pawlenty and Donald Trump, who showed up at some of the weekend rallies, the correspondent turned to possible downside that these politicians might face in appealing to the Tea Party, playing up a result from a recent CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll:
Whoever is compiling a list of what journalists really believe when they put forth certain vague but commonly used phrases (e.g., using "some people believe" instead of truthfully saying "in my opinion") should consider adding the following: "small but vocal group" really means "a tiny bunch of people I agree with."
That's my assessment as I look at two uses of the term this past weekend, each referring to pathetically small gatherings of people using tax-filing weekend as a excuse to protest "corporate tax loopholes."
The first comes to us via David Roeder of the Chicago Sun-Times (HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit), where the paper's headline writers cooked up something that would give those who didn't read the underlying report the impression that the city's Tea Party Tax Day protest was small:
The Republicans did not win this budget fight, but the cuts they were able to extract illustrate, ironically, that Democrats are finally on the defensive. Scorekeeping aside, we must build on this non-victory because it was also a Democratic retreat.
Last week, I argued that the GOP should not cave on the budget negotiations for many reasons, including that today is not 1995-96. Things are so much different now, especially because of the existential threat to the republic that the exploding national debt represents.
If Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite actually believed in Hell, she'd probably preach that Tea Partiers were headed there unless they repented and backed higher taxes and more government spending.
The liberal seminary professor and Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" contributor last Wednesday lashed out at the "fundamentalism" of Tea Party calls for fiscal restraint, insisting that conservative takes on the federal budget were un-Christian, "tribal" and racist in nature:
Appearing on Sunday’s Good Morning America on ABC, This Week host Christiane Amanpour suggested that Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s perceived victory in recent budget negotiations with President Obama could be harmful in the long run as it will "give Republicans a lot more wind in their sail" and make it more difficult for both sides to compromise on the larger portions of the budget.
Co-anchor Bianna Golodryga set up the line of thinking as she posed the question: "Since both sides avoided the backlash that would have come with the government shut down that could have potentially taught them a lesson, is there risk that they'll overplay their hand on obviously this much more controversial debate over the debt limit now heightened?"
Amanpour passed on the view by some that the recent budget deal would hinder the negotiation of future agreements: "And some people are saying that with the victory, because many people are saying that this government shutdown deal was a victory for, by and large, Speaker Boehner, that that might give the Republicans a lot more wind in their sail at a time when analysts say that it really needs bipartisan work to get some of these huge, big issues sorted out."
As the prospect of a government shutdown continued to make headlines today, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer accused Republicans of exploiting servicemen's paychecks for political gain, even though the House approved legislation to fund the Pentagon in the event of a shutdown and President Barack Obama threatened to veto such a measure should it reach his desk.
Interviewing Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the daytime anchor spun the debate over the 2011 budget as a false choice between paying the troops or defunding Planned Parenthood.
After NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer joined Senator Chuck Schumer on Wednesday in labeling the Tea Party as the cause of the budget stalemate in Congress, on Thursday, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell again provided a platform for Democratic talking points in an interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
O'Donnell, who spoke with Reid Wednesday night, began with a challenge: "If there were a shutdown, are you responsible? At least in part?" Reid replied: "How can we be blamed when we have given them everything they want and they won't take yes for an answer?" She then summarized the Democratic argument: "Reid said Republicans refuse to compromise....[his] answer is blame the Tea Party."
Ilario Pantano, a former sniper, sat in my office, rolling his shirtsleeve back down after showing me the United States Marine Corps tattoo on his arm. He wasn't showing off. He was making a point. "If my country is worth dying for, it's worth fighting for." Which is what brought him to Washington.
He's put his life on the line in the Marines, and now the North Carolina resident is in the embryonic stages of his second run for Congress. Last year, he fared reasonably well in a district that's been voting Democrat since the Reconstruction. The problems that called him to duty on the campaign trail have not gone away, and the people who had faith in him still deserve an alternative to their current representation. So Pantano feels like he owes them a second try. And with his national-security and economics experience available during a critical time in our history, he owes his country another effort, too.