Saturday, October 2, 2010

Matt Taibbi Attends Palin Rally & Explains Teabags

 Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Truly remarkable article in the October 15 issue of Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi. Called Tea and Crackers, Taibbi discusses his exploration of the Tea Party, what it is, who its members are, and what they truly stand for.

The article is quite lengthy but well worth the read. Several points are worth special note, however. [All emphasis added] After making three trips to Kentucky, Taibbi attends a Sarah Palin rally:
"Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains."
"A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it."
The money quote?
"...Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about ..."
"Suddenly, tens of thousands of Republicans who had been conspicuously silent during George Bush's gargantuan spending on behalf of defense contractors and hedge-fund gazillionaires showed up at Tea Party rallies across the nation, declaring themselves fed up with wasteful government spending"
Much of the article is a discussion of Rand Paul and his transformation from a fringe candidate to a candidate truly of the GOP when he won the primary, and the genesis of the movement created by money interested in manipulating people dissatisfied with the results of the 2008 elections.
"After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey [of Freedom Works, the corporate funder/creator of the tea party movement and anti-health care movement], who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America."
And my favorite quote, speaking as it does to my professional opinion:
"It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists..."
I have quoted at length from this article, however, I would strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety and share it with your friends. I made sure to share it on Facebook hoping all the teabags in my extended family will take a look...

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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