The Tea Parties, despite how it has been sold as a "populist" revolt, are nothing of the kind. Besides running completely contra general public opinion, Think Progress documents clearly how these represent prefabricated protest:
Despite these attempts to make the “movement” appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests:
– Freedom Works staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”
– Freedom Works staffers apparently moved to “take over” the planning of local events in Florida.
– Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.
– Freedom Works has several domain addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs — to promote the protests.
– Americans for Prosperity is writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, and several other states.
The "movement" unsurprisingly, is being hyped by FOX news. There's also the little matter of what the hell they're actually protesting. By some accounts, they're protesting "pork-barrel spending", which is somewhat different from protesting taxes. Steve Benen:
The stickers, signs, and shirts have a simple enough message: "T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already."
And that's where I start to get confused about why these events are occurring. Obama already passed the largest middle-class tax cut in history. Yes, he's proposing increasing the top rate back to where it was when our economy was healthy, but that only means that folks with household income below a quarter-mil aren't really in a position to whine about the administration's agenda.
Which brings us back to where we started: what are these people whining about again? They don't like economic recovery efforts, but the stimulus has already passed and it's a little late to rally opposition to it. They don't like budget deficits, unless they're run by Republican presidents. They don't want their taxes to go up, but Obama has already passed a significant tax cut.
Andrew Sullivan summarized this nicely: "These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It's a function of a movement's intellectual collapse and a party's fast-accelerating nervous breakdown."
It's useless to try to find any intellectual merit to the position of these "Tea Parties" whatsoever, they represent no more than a brain-dead movement babbling to itself incoherently. Expect more coverage from this blog on Wednesday, when these protests are scheduled.