A Mad Tea-Party
By Bernie Horn
April 14, 2009 - 11:30am ET
“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!” says the White Rabbit who looks remarkably like Fox News bloviator Glenn Beck.
Beck and his fellow Fox partisans Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, and Greta Van Susteren are hurrying to publicize and legitimize the so-called “Tax Day Tea Party” tomorrow. But the multi-city event makes as much sense as a caterpillar smoking a hookah.
Organizers claim that “Tea Party” refers to the Boston Tea Party—which was a protest against taxation by the British Parliament without representation from America. But you don’t hear them crying out “no taxation without representation” or calling for D.C. statehood.
Also, unlike the 1773 protest in Boston, this is hardly a grassroots affair. It’s actually being organized by corporate front groups, including Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, and literally sponsored by Fox News.
So it must be inspired by some other kind of tea party…
Yes, the right wingers have fallen Down the Rabbit-Hole into a Wonderland where the absurd becomes entirely routine.
First the riddle, what is the Tax Day Tea Party about? What do the participants want?
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “what's the answer?”
“I haven't the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
“Nor I,” said the March Hare.
Look at the wild comments on their website. Like Alice’s tea, it’s not about anything. No doubt there will be participants who don’t like paying taxes. But that’s hardly newsworthy. The Mad Haters' cacophony of complaints fall into three categories.
The loudest howls are about the $700 billion TARP bailout of Wall Street. Which is fine. Except Congress authorized that six months ago—at the insistence of President George W. Bush. If they’re fuming about TARP, isn’t this party a little late? And how do they explain all the anti-Obama signs?
“Curiouser and curiouser!”
Okay, their second biggest complaint is about the $787 billion economic recovery act, enacted by Congress to create or preserve 3.5 million jobs. At least this one is Obama’s responsibility. But you’ve got to wonder, what do these people have against jobs? Every intellectually honest economist in the nation told us that Congress had to enact a stimulus package this year and many experts believe we will need another one before the year is over. The choice was between economic stimulus and something like a global depression.
The folks coming to a Tax Day Tea Party are either cynically dishonest or woefully ignorant. Either way, they are certainly mad…steaming, boiling mad.
“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat: “we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”
Of course, the corporate organizers of the Tax Day Tea Party are neither ignorant nor mad. They have an agenda, but you have to dig a little to find it. Look at their Resources page. It takes you to “The Tool Kit for Tea Parties,” which is a few PDFs on a website called “American Solutions.”
And what are the principal solutions? Cut tax rates for the rich. Cut the corporate tax rate. Abolish the capital gains tax. Abolish the estate tax. Oh, and oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.
Wow! Who in the world is American Solutions? Why it’s Newt Gingrich’s organization. (Click here for a fine picture of Newt grinning like a Cheshire Cat.) The whole tea party scam is designed to push people toward the maddest, craziest, most irresponsible right-wing corporate agenda Gingrich could imagine. And—once again—the lower-income, right wing rank-and-file are just being played as suckers by the rich.
Any tea party protester with half a grain of sense will come back agreeing with the girl who, 144 years ago, fell down the rabbit hole:
“At any rate I'll never go there again!” said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!”
The writer is a Senior Fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and author of the recent book, "Framing the Future: How Progressive Values Can Win Elections and Influence People."
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