Derided by elitists as phony, the tea-party movement is spontaneous..." - Karl Rove
A FEW NIGHTS ago I had dinner with a fellow who said his paycheck is a bit healthier these days because of the tax cuts arriving via the Obama Administration. He said others in his company had experienced the same benefit. No one was prepared to make a down payment on a new yacht or a Lear jet, but all had more dollars in their pockets. Would anybody deny that these income tax cuts embraced all middle income taxpayers from California to New York?
Well, yes. Indeed, if you listened to the rants on tea-party day, the President's policies are drenching all Americans with steep federal tax increases. Karl Rove, a political survivor whose wallet will never deny him a good meal enhanced by a job with the Fox megaphone, insists America is entering a new phase when the common folks aren't going to put up with runaway "tax-and-spend government". Republicans like the sound of tax-and-spend because it has been around on their calling cards since the days of Herbert Hoover. Meantime, Republican presidents have spent and spent. Or didn't they tell you that?
Rove and his cohorts, who slammed us with eight years of George Bush, are in denial. They have no options left but to tell us, when the occasion calls for it, that Thursday is Saturday and Monday is Wednesday, and the dark spot on the moon is a wayward cow. Now they are selling "spontaneous " tax revolts that would be quite agreeable to winning elections for their brand of conservative Republicans down the road.
Spontaneous? For Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, such imagined impromptu tea bagging was such a seductive thought to rabble-rouse that the station's incendiary talk show hosts sold it endlessly to their audience with the vigor of those bombastic used-car commercials. Joining the "grass-roots" assault on the White House was an old pro at this sort of nonsense: Dick Armey, the former Texas congressman who is now the head of an outfit called FreedomWorks, another of the right-wing enterprises that confuses patriotism with Wounded Knee.
All of the old crowd were out there sellin' their wares: Newt Gingrich, whose curse we must bear because he has yet to find a job that will get him entirely out of the way; Phil Gramm, an inspired deregulator, a vice chairman of UBS (which is being investigated for serious tax fraud) and a super-rich Texan, who got his share of income as a senator from oppressed taxpayers; Tom DeLay, another discredited Texan who smiles painfully when Chris Matthews toys with DeLay's loopy invasions of reality.
If there were anyone big enough to lead a fragmented McParty these days, he or she would promote a series of Smart Parties around the country that would begin with the premise that nothing is working for the GOP's good these days, so maybe it ought to consider something more sensible as the loyal opposition. At the moment it is nothing more than a composite of silly free-lancers on the right who have kidnapped the GOP as their own private plantation where they grow peculiar ideologies from barren soil. A party cannot survive with the wealthy alone.
So be alert when you see grassroots as the key to the party's revival. If the tea parties were the domain of the future look of the party - white Obama-haters with Hitler-Obama posters - the slugs have eaten the roots and converted the lawn into a rollup carpet.