It was another tense and swampy summer day in Washington when a group of Senators sat down to lunch. The United States was hours away from debt defaulting, which would result in an economic fall similar to Wile E. Coyote stepping off a cliff — the global financial markets as the ACME anvil trailing behind. The whole world was indeed watching.
But who were these Senators and what were they discussing?
They were none other than Tea Partiers, conversing desultorily on the difficulties of finding Washington housing and schools for their kids — anything and everything except their recent individual meetings with Majority Leader John Boehner. Struggling to appease Tea Partiers and gain the needed votes to pass the bill to raise the debt ceiling, Boehner baldly asked them what they wanted in exchange for their vote. “Nothing,” Tea Partiers each answered in turn, surprised Boehner “just didn’t get it,” and then left to attend a prayer meeting.
This exchange encapsulates the Tea Party fringe. They are ideologues, not politicians. The Republicans let the crazies into the tent, and now find that the crazies have taken over, leaving Republican elders with a subsequent inability to control their party. Tea Partiers are purists, and as such have no interest in plum committee appointment, moving up the political food chain, negotiating for their state’s benefit, or even re-election. They care little for the standard operating procedures and even less, reasons for them. Why would they waste time learning the ropes of institutions they’ve pledged to destroy?
This ideological purity in the face of political expediency places the Tea Partiers in the awkward position of railing against perceived government intrusion while their supporters hold signs that shout, “Government keep your hands off my Medicare!”
Who knew white, working class, impotent rage, fueled by Koch Brothers’ money and organized by Dick Armey’s conservative astroturf (not to be confused with grassroots) organization FreedomWorks, could backfire so catastrophically?
By the end of the summer, the line up of 2012 Republic presidential candidates became nothing more than a gift to Stewart and Colbert. Leaders in the race include company man Mitt Romney, bore-to-a-snore-all-around-nice-guy Jon Huntsman, Tea Party wacko Michele Bachmann and relatively progressive libertarian Ron Paul, along with Creationist Rick Perry and Savagely ruined Rick Santorum (Google his last name. Dan Savage has promised to define his first name as well, if he lobbies on an anti-homosexual platform). Meanwhile, Palin continues a political strip tease of attending Republican rallies and stealing thunder without actually declaring herself in the running. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the Democrats.
Bachmann purports to support individual rights and limited government while personally benefiting from farm subsidy programs and TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) monies. She wants government out of citizens’ lives, yet simultaneously supports limiting reproductive rights. And then of course there are her views on homosexuality, “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is “gay”. It’s anything but gay. It’s profoundly sad,” she said at a 2004 speech at the 2004 National Education Leadership Conference in Minneapolis.
It’s an oxymoronic position: It’s none of my business what lifestyle you choose, but you will go to hell for being gay. Indeed, Bachmann has become a master of dodging questions related to gay rights, striving to maintain that her personal beliefs will not affect policy-making. This is all the more humorous considering how low and fast her husband comes in on the average gay-dar. Fruit blindness, anyone? The man is as gay as Black Friday at Nordstrom’s, and yet he manages to have a therapy practice specializing in “reparative therapy” to help gays overcome their homosexual tendencies. It is a capacious closet in which he lives.
Ricky Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism in his 2008 book, On My Honor, suggesting gays simply abstain, while Romney, Bachmann and Santorum have all signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge. I’m not sure which is more disappointing: their primeval, unfounded stance that sexual orientation is a choice, or the fact that I’m not surprised.
Also jarring is the promise of smaller government, lowered taxes, yet somehow a balanced budget and job creation. Two hundred and seventy-eight members of the House and Senate have signed the Orwellian “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” agreement to never, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Rather, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge balances the budget by incinerating entitlement programs, infrastructure support, and social safety nets, as well as government protection of water, air
and food safety — a Charlie Sheen level crazy.
Unfortunately, the Reaganomics of lowering taxes for the rich to create jobs works well theoretically, but fails when applied. Still, the renegades cling to the pledge of reducing government intrusion, aside from regulating every uterus in the entire country, and let’s not forget: down with the EPA!
All in all, the summer was nothing short of entertaining and an excellent jumping off point for more ridiculous extremist campaigning. It seems President Obama has his work cut out for him, campaigning at a time of dismal economic forecasts and nine percent plus levels of unemployment. The upside is the current Republican presidential field is even more dismal than the recent jobs report. The Dems can only hope for a Palin/Bachman ticket in November 2012.