Is the Tea Party Gang Turning GOP Into a Party of Hate?

by on November 7, 2009 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Health, War and Peace

anti-obama sign healthref

Sign at right-wing rally at the Capital, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009.

by David Corn / Politics Daily / Nov. 6, 2009

When John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, appeared at the Tea Party rally at the Capitol on Thursday afternoon, it was a dramatic signal: The wing-nuts have taken over the GOP.

Think I’m being harsh? The angry folks at the protest — which attracted several thousand conservatives — held up signs with messages of hate: “Get the Red Out of the White House,” “Waterboard Congress,” “Ken-ya Trust Obama?” One called the president a “Traitor to the U.S. Constitution.” Another sign showed pictures of dead bodies at the Dachau concentration camp and compared health care reform to the Holocaust. A different placard depicted Obama as Sambo. Yes, Sambo. Another read, “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds” — a reference to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory holding that one evil Jewish family has manipulated events around the globe for decades.

All of this extremism was on display — proudly — at an event that was officially sponsored by the House Republicans. After Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) invited tea partiers to the Capitol to rail against the emerging health care bill, the GOP leadership — somewhat blindsided by Bachmann — jumped on board, providing speakers and logistical support for the event. Certainly, the crowd was not made up entirely of bigots; I’m not smearing all the protesters who oppose Obama’s health care reform effort. But it cannot be denied: Racism and anti-Semitism were part of an official Republican action.

Extremism was also flowing from the podium, where Republican House members were eager for microphone time. Boehner, for one, declared that the health care bill is the “greatest threat to freedom that I have seen.” That’s some statement. A greater threat than Hitler’s Nazism or Soviet communism? About the same time he was speaking, Obama was making a surprise appearance at the White House daily press briefing to tout the fact that the American Medical Association and AARP, the powerful seniors lobby, have each endorsed the health care reform bill. Here’s a question for Boehner: Are these two groups opposed to freedom? And at one point during the rally — call it a Bachmannalia — when John Ratzenberger, a.k.a Cliff Clavin from “Cheers,” claimed that the Democrats were turning the United States into a land of European socialism, the audience shouted, “Nazis, Nazis.” No Republican legislator left the stage in protest. Boehner and his fellow GOP leaders should be asked how they feel about mounting a rally that attracted intense hate-mongering.

With their overheated rhetoric, Boehner and Bachmann (who called this rally “the Super Bowl of freedom”) are placing the GOP into a corner — just at a time when external circumstances are shifting in the party’s favor. If the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia showed anything, they indicated that moderate Republicans (real or faux) can fare well against Democrats during a time of high unemployment. These two elections also suggested that independents are skittish about the status quo, open to Republican importuning, and perhaps yearning to send incumbents a message — and most incumbents nowadays are Democrats. The one place where conservatives made a conservative stand was the 23rd congressional district of New York. In that high-profile contest, the Tea Party movement, which had swung behind conservative third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, was defeated by Democrat Bill Owens.

The lesson of all this for GOPers might well be: Don’t go crazy; instead, court dissatisfied independents and be a reasonable alternative to the people in power. By embracing the Tea Party mob, Boehner and company are doing none of that. They are partnering with an extremist band that many indies won’t identify with. And that may end up giving Democrats a better chance to hold on.

A recent poll found that only 25 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of the Republican Party (compared to 42 percent for the Democrats). Hanging out with “Nazi”-shouters who wave racist and hateful signs is not likely to boost the popular appeal of congressional Republicans. Boehner and company are not merely playing to the base; they’re saddling up with the worst elements of the right. It won’t be a pretty ride.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jettyboy November 8, 2009 at 10:37 am

Nothing new here, can’t turn something into something it has been for years. Sooner or later the American populace will understand that patriotism is more than lapel pins and Glenn Beck. Until then I have found it much more relaxing just to ignore any and all things associated with “Republican”. Try it, it makes following politics so much more pleasant.


OB Joe November 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm

What’s new is that there is a massive movement that is racist and reactionary that wants to throw a noose over the neck of our African American president. It’s called fascism and is not lucky for lefties to hide from it.


annagrace November 8, 2009 at 9:00 pm

What’s new is that there is a powerful “machine” comprised of lobbyists and ex-politicos; a major media with the largest viewership; and the participation of elected Republicans. Lefties should not underestimate this machine.

These recent Tea Party Rallies are not the home grown variety. This is the Tea Party Express, bankrolled by Freedom Works and Americans for Progress. This is the astroturf Tea Party, with corporate lobbyist and former Republican Congressman Contract with America Dick Armey pulling the strings.

Fox’s role in all of this is significant, but no surprise. The surprise and I think the real danger is the degree to which Republicans are willing to publicly acknowledge the bottom feeders. On a public level, Republicans have not often legitimized the extreme fringe- Goldwater distanced himself and the party from the John Birchers. OK- the Contract with America came pretty close.

That’s all changed now. A California Congressman congratulates as a true patriot a town hall attendee who describes himself as a proud right wing terrorist; Michele Bachmann goes on Fox to organize the latest Tea Party, exhorts them to storm Congress (!?) then is adamant that it was completely a grass roots effort. The Republicans fell all over themselves for a photo-op with the Tea Baggers, although Eric Cantor did protest the poster comparing Obamacare to what happened in Dachau under the Nazi’s.

Embracing the unspeakable may ultimately come back to bite the Republican party. One would hope so. In the short term it can have a significant effect on the 2010 elections- if the economy is still in the tank.

The left needs to tighten it up, protect its back and keep moving forward….


OB Joe November 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm

The answer is Yes. There is a huge fight going on inside the GOP right now. The far-right is fighting the conservative right for control of the party. And right now, it looks like the mainstream Repubs are tilting towards the tea party wackos.

This could be good and bad. It could be good in that progressives, liberals and Democrats elect better candidates who beat the wackos that the extremists put up, but it could be bad as it gives the far-right more clout and credibility.


Shawn Conrad November 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

I saw the movie Reds this weekend which makes all of you Ragsters make much more sense to me.


BillRayDrums November 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Even more disturbing is the comments directed towards Elie Wiesel

I could not imagine being so disrespectful towards someone who survived what he did.


BillRayDrums November 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Oops…”are the comments….” hit send too quick.


sam November 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

I believe that there are some really sincere tea party attendees. However, their party pundits constant cult-like broadcasts of intolerance toward minorities of any sort, and rants filled with twisted facts, and out-right lies are meant to target like minded listeners. The planners and backers of the tea parties have routes in the FOX News system, private insurance co.,pharmaceutical co., and the Republican political Neocons. An unchecked barage of paranoid hate speech has only served to embolden them! They have preached Right wing conservatism, while breaking every Commandment they say they stand for! It’s disgusting and frightening at the same time! Their party has done virtually nothing constructive for years and it seems they will continue. They are being paid to do nothing but obstruct, and their followers are just fine with that type of government takeover!


JoeK February 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Check this site out. Wowie!



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