The tea party movement is a response Barack Obama (Bruce McQuain’s wrong)

Recently, former Vice President Dan Quayle offered his two cents about the tea party movement:

Like many influential causes before it, the “tea party” movement appeared on the scene uninvited by the political establishment. Democrats in the White House and in Congress recognize it for what it is — a spontaneous and pointed response to the Obama agenda — but some Republican leaders still aren’t sure what to make of it, as tea partiers have risen on their own and stirred up trouble in GOP primaries.

Over at QandO, my friend Bruce McQuain takes issue with Quayle’s comments and defends the tea party movement:

The  tea party movement is not exclusively a reaction only to “the Obama agenda”. And if the GOP buys into that, they’re buying trouble.  Quayle even acknowledges that without knowing it when he talks about trouble in Republican primaries.

This grass roots movement didn’t begin when Obama took office or in reaction to his specific agenda, but instead began to form during the Bush administration as government continued to expand. About the time TARP found its way into the political lexicon, it went public.  It was the size of the crisis and response – the trillions of dollars thrown around like confetti – that finally spurred people into the streets and birthed the official “tea party movement”.

I really wish that were true, Bruce, but Quayle is right.

The problem is that tea party types did not organize protests to the economic policies of George W. Bush, and TARP was not the first example of fiscal impropriety of his presidency. He cut taxes, so most self-identified conservatives don’t ask questions. Nevermind that he didn’t cut spending, resulting in massive deficits that will cause huge tax increases in the future.

The first protests were prompted by Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC in response to the Obama Administration’s $75 billion Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan that was a bailout for both irresponsible borrowers and lenders.

Bruce continues:

[T]his isn’t a movement of right wing disgruntled Republicans. This is a movement of small government fiscal conservatives – almost libertarian in leaning. Her discussion of the demonization of business, the necessity of allowing businesses to fail, getting out of the way of the markets and let them take the lead in recovery were on target and well delivered.

At the beginning of the movement, yes, I think that would have been a true statement. The first Atlanta Tea Party (2/27/09) was a mix of libertarians, like myself and Eric Von Haessler, and fiscal conservatives. There was an authenticity about it as 300 people were huddled together on a cold, wet day at the state Capitol.

Even then, no one was talking about past fiscal recklessness, even though Barack Obama had been in office for just over a month, though everyone was slamming him. I don’t have a problem with that because Obama is spending our country further to insolvency but by what was being said, you’d think Bush never existed.

The day Newt Gingrich got involved was the day I walked away. Gingrich is no fiscal conservative, after all he supported TARP and entitlement expansion. He is a political pragmatist that will endorse any movement or political idea that will advance the Republican Party.

It was even more obvious at the Tax Day Tea Party where Sean Hannity, the Republican cheerleader, showed up to broadcast his show. By this time, libertarians began to take a skeptical eye to the tea party as it seemed that Republicans were successfully co-opting the movement.

And finally, Bruce says it:

[Tea partiers are] not looking necessarily for Republicans. They’re looking for principled small government fiscal conservatives who will return sanity to government and scale down its size, scope and cost. Sen. Olympia Snowe would not qualify. Sen. Lindsey Graham most likely wouldn’t qualify either. And I’ll venture to say, neither would Sen. John McCain. These are the type people they’re promising “trouble” for in Republican primaries.

What are the qualifiers for a “tea party” candidate, rhetoric or actually putting their words into action? For example, J.D. Hayworth, McCain’s primary opponent, isn’t exactly a fiscal conservative, though he may be more so than the incumbent.

I sumbit to you that Hayworth’s tea party support, sans Sarah Palin, isn’t because of fiscal concerns, it’s because McCain doesn’t hate brown people.

Personally, I don’t believe the tea party movement as principled as many of promoters and leaders believe it is. For example, during the health care debate, tea partiers echoed Republican criticism of ObamaCare, including the line that it would cut Medicare. If you’re complaining about Medicare cuts, are you endorsing tax increases in the future? Medicare has to be cut to avert a fiscal crisis.

Bruce gives a picture of what the movement is supposed to be, but it’s not and it hasn’t been for a while. But that’s just my personal observation as a disgruntled former tea partier.

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