Alice Roosevelt famously said, "If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here by me." With Roosevelt long gone, you can do the next best thing - get booked on HLN's "The Joy Behar Show."
On the March 1 broadcast of her program, host Joy Behar featured a panel to discuss the tea party movement on its one-year anniversary. But rather than including tea party backers or even impartial observers, Behar talked only with people diametrically opposed to the tea parties and the views their mainstream followers hold, including the openly socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, liberal talker Stephanie Miller and Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson. Behar cited a Feb. 17 Wall Street Journal column that was highly critical of the former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties and pondered how the Democratic Party could take this on.
"Well, you know, it was interesting that Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal wrote this week I quote her, and she said, that the Tea Party is a group of, quote, ‘conspiracy theorists, anti-government zealots, 9/11 truthers and assorted other cadres of the obsessed and deranged,'" Behar said. "Now, do the Dems even have to take on the Tea Party when their own side is attacking them like this?"
Miller, who obviously isn't convinced this movement is a viable political threat, said she hoped they would take over the Republican Party because in her view they're discredited.
"Oh, I think - no, I think no, I think it's an excellent idea for them to take over the Republican Party," Miller said. "I hope they bring those goofy hats with the little tea bags that hang in their eyes. Because they don't look crazy at all - Joy."
And according to Miller, their motivation for this activism is driven by racism.
"I think so - because let's face it Joy, not all of them - a lot of them are there because there's a black guy in the White House," Miller said. "There is obviously a racist element to this. But then let's look what are these birthers please. Let's see the birth certificate. Like, oh, my God."
Behar accused conservatives of using "violent rhetoric," offering examples where she chose to take literally words obviously meant in a figurative sense.
"Margaret, let me ask you something about - do you think there's a lot of violent rhetoric coming out of the right?" Behar said. "I mean, Tim Pawlenty, for example, he said that they should take a nine iron and smash big government like Elin Woods did. Michele Bachmann - she's another beauty - people should be armed and dangerous against climate change activists. I am frightened by the fact that these people in governmental positions are talking like this. Are you?"
Carlson took it to another level - tying the February incident in which a man flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin to the tea parties, despite the communist language in his suicide note and the fact that he had no association with the movement at all.
"And there is some sympathy with the guy who took the airplane into the - into IRS headquarters killing a veteran who was just about to retire and injuring scores of others," Carlson said. "There's - it's easy to tip over and there is a tipping point. Tim Pawlenty, who is not an angry guy generally; he is a sort of Mr. Rogers of Minnesota, he had to gin that anger up and got himself into a really bad metaphor there with the nine iron smashing because at CPAC - I was there - there are people going around with - with T-shirts with great big machine guns stenciled on their shirts."
Miller echoed Carlson's assessment of CPAC: "And then, it is violent, Joy. I mean, that's the same convention Margaret was just talking about CPAC, they had piñatas of Nancy Pelosi and a punching bag of Harry Reid and you know, Sen. Sanders is right," Miller said. "There is legitimate anger out there but it shouldn't be at the whole government. You know, they try to do this thing that government doesn't work. Well, FEMA worked under Bill Clinton. It didn't work under George Bush so it's not that the government doesn't work."
Carlson espoused a popular liberal belief - that the Tea Party was just a movement manipulated by business interests comprised of radical fringe elements.
"So you don't really don't want to let that metaphor go in that atmosphere. And Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi would like to tap into some of the Tea Party and she just did the piece of it that Sen. Sanders mentioned, which is the piece of it that's really opposed to the special interests taking over or having an inordinate say in government," Carlson continued. "So that the banks seem to be prevailing and the insurance companies, well, taking on the Tea Parties, you get a whole bunch of other stuff of birthers and birchers and secessionists militia man and gold bugs."