The Racists In The Tea Party Are No Longer “Proud To Be A Teabagger” (w/Classic Video)

A couple of days ago President Obama spoke at a town hall in Los Angeles to a group of young, tech entrepreneurs. His prepared remarks enumerated some of the economic and social successes of his administration. But he also took questions from the audience, including some that led into a bit of politics.

In one particularly notable exchange, the President observed a serious flaw in the devolution of the Republican Party.The question addressed ways “to encourage more immigrants with technical skills to be able to work legally in the United States?” Obama responded at length about the numerous contributions of immigrants to America. Then he wondered aloud about the Republican Party’s hostility to people and policies that the nation needs to progress.

“it’s anybody’s guess how Republicans are thinking about this. If they were thinking long term politically, it is suicide for them not to do this. Because the demographics of the country are such where you are going to lose an entire generation of immigrants who are looking around and saying, you know what, that party does not seem to care much about me and my life. And I think the smarter Republicans understand this. Short term, though, they’ve got a problem, and the Tea Party and others who oftentimes express virulently anti-immigrant sentiment.”

Obama on Immigration/Tea Party

By facing head-on the inherent racism of the Tea Party (which is really just another faction within the GOP). Obama has embraced an observation that has been all too apparent to anyone paying attention, but often was left unsaid. Earlier this year News Corpse documented the overt racism infecting the right-wing after Fox News asked for some evidence of it.

Fox News - Tea Party Racism

But that wasn’t the only hit the Tea Party took that day. During a gubernatorial debate in Connecticut, the GOP candidate alluded to an article that criticized Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy. This prompted Malloy to provide more information about the publisher of the article saying

“The publication you’re talking about is a right-wing tea bag organization. You know it. I let you repeat the same story twice. Why don’t you tell the whole story when you tell stories?”

That accurate characterization set off yelps of hurt feeling by right-wingers, including those at the rag in question, the National Review. Contributing editor Jim Geraghty complained in a tweet…

“Remember when ‘Tea Bag’ was considered an obnoxious thing to say? Can I call the governor of Connecticut a ‘Left-tard’ now?”

Of course, the right has been using derogatory language against the left freely for years. This may be the first time they asked for permission. The NR’s publisher, Jack Fowler, joined in the whine-fest with a column condemning Malloy’s use of the Tea Bag label. However, what all of these crybabies forget is that Teabagging was a term that was originally adopted and promoted by the Tea Party. Even an article in the National Review, dating back to December of 2009, affirmed the term’s derivation saying…

“The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was ‘Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.’ A protester was spotted with a sign saying, ‘Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.’ So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it.”

And that’s not all. The dean of rightist commentators on Fox News, Charles Krauthammer, referred to “tea bag demonstrations” during a segment of the network’s signature news hour, Special Report, back in October of 2009. Fox’s Tea Party correspondent, Griff Jenkins, who actually rode around on the Tea Party Express bus for the summer, was also known to use the term. But the most blatant embrace of the terminology came in the form of a slickly produced video that proudly declared “I’m proud to be a Teabagger.” It consisted of a variety of allegedly average Americans taking the pledge of pride in the term.

Consequently, it’s somewhat disingenuous of them to feign outrage when somebody utters the words to which they previously swore allegiance. The Tea Party owns Teabagging, but what’s worse is that they own the racism and ugliness that has been a hallmark of their movement. And as the President said, it is political suicide given the demographic changes that are taking place in the country. Without significant reforms, it is only a matter of time before those changes engulf the GOP and make it an irrelevant footnote in future elections.

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Republicans Flub The Double Reverse Alinsky

For degree of difficulty, I’ll give them a ten, but Republicans are far too incompetent to have risked the political Jujitsu required by their recent exercise.

Saul Alinsky was an activist and author who has been called the founder of modern community organizing. He is said to have been an early influence on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. His book, Rules For Radicals, outlined a program for effecting social change by building organizations that restored the balance of power from the elite to the people.

Early in last year’s presidential campaign, Republicans sought to exploit Clinton and Obama’s connection to Alinsky, implying that there was something frightful about his advocacy of empowering the poor and middle classes. More recently, his name has begun to reappear in a new, seemingly coordinated assault on the President, the press, and any stray progressive activist that might saunter along. The problem is that these conservatives swing so wide of the mark that they only succeed in making asses of themselves. Their approach is so pedestrian that not only do they fail to make their point, the point they make is often antithetical to what they intended. For example…

Jim Geraghty wrote an article for the National Review, The Alinsky Administration, that seeks to associate Obama with the first of Alinsky’s rules: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. But Geraghty’s limited comprehension distills the concept down to nothing more than the allegation that Obama is a politician who seeks to attain power. Shocking, isn’t it?

Geraghty: “As conservatives size up their new foe, they ought to remember: It’s not about liberalism. It’s about power. Obama will jettison anything that costs him power, and do anything that enhances it.”

In addition to missing Alinsky’s point entirely, Geraghty also contradicts the vast conservative confederation that has been hammering away at Obama precisely because of his intransigent liberalism. So while everyone else on the right is trying to convince us that Obama is taking us down the road to Socialism, Geraghty contends that the ideology is expendable in the pursuit of power.

Then Geraghty turns up on the Hannity show and invokes his version of Alinsky’s fifth rule: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. But in making his case, Geraghty has uncovered a heretofore unknown conspiracy that is under the direction of Obama:

Geraghty: “[H]e’s got everything from ‘The Daily Show’ to ‘The Colbert Report’ to, you know, liberal bloggers, entertainers, Bill Maher. He kind of outsources that aspect of the Alinsky operation.

It may come as a surprise to Jon Stewart et al, to learn that they are mere puppets of the White House Overlord. The administration’s army of comedians must keep a lot of Republicans up at night. And, Heaven knows, the President himself loves to laugh. Bill O’Reilly also picked up the ridicule angle and added NBC as an instrument of Obama’s plot:

O’Reilly: “Enter far-left philosopher Saul Alinsky […] Before he died, Alinsky wrote a book called ‘Rules for Radicals,’ and here is where the politics of ridicule was defined. According to Alinsky, in order to change America into a far-left bastion, traditional Americans must be marginalized.”

Of course, O’Reilly made up virtually all of that. Alinsky not only did not advocate for marginalizing “traditional Americans,” he was their biggest advocate. Then again, O’Reilly’s definition of a traditional American is a wealthy, white, Christian, corporatist, social Darwinian, who gets off on torture and loofahs. But my favorite part, personally, is where O’Reilly says, “Before he died, Alinsky wrote a book…” As opposed to the books he wrote after he died? Thanks for making that distinction, Bill.

If the Republicans are sensitive to being ridiculed, it is only because they make it so easy. However, their disingenuous sniveling is hard to take seriously when they are just as guilty of the practice as the left. O’Reilly has a daily feature on his show wherein he calls people pinheads. The RNC repeatedly cranked out campaign videos mocking Obama as a celebrity, a media darling, or “The One”. Glenn Beck has a recurring series on the “March to Socialism”. Rush Limbaugh devotes most of his daily three hour rant to nothing but ridiculing one Democrat or another. The Internet is awash with images of Obama as everything from a terrorist to a Messiah to Hitler.

The flood of references to Alinsky is threatening to drown out all other political discourse. It has been taken up by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Michelle Bachmann to Karl Rove. When you hear Republicans condemn Democrats for some breach of civility, you can lay odds that they are doing the very same thing. Their capacity for projection is legendary. This is no less true with regard to their allegations concerning Alinsky’s rules. But their execution is atrocious. They are so bad, in fact, that they are even contradicted by their own side. Last year, John J. Pitney Jr., also writing for the National Review, penned a column entitled, “The Alinsky Ticket,” wherein he exposed the real perpetrators of this pinko scheme:

Pitney: “Radical activist Saul Alinsky has had quite a season, especially for somebody who has been dead for 36 years. The two Democratic finalists had Alinsky links […] But the candidates who have most effectively applied Alinsky principles are John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

Well, now the cat’s out of the bag. Pitney dropped the dime on the GOP. How can they assail Obama and the Democrats for a strategy that they are employing themselves? Actually, they can do it very easily. In fact, it is rule number one in Karl Rove’s Rules For Reactionaries: Conduct a campaign of dirty tricks, but accuse your opponents of doing it first.

Rightists are now trying to adapt that rule to Alinsky’s teachings, and to disparage Obama and the Democrats. Unfortunately, their ineptitude is so advanced that they can’t execute a successful program. All they are accomplishing is a reaffirmation of their own desperation and lameness. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent proposal by the RNC to rebrand Democrats as the Democrat Socialist Party [shakes head and sighs].

Watch for more hilarity as Republicans continue in their quest to complete the perfect Double Reverse Alinsky – no matter how many times, or how miserably, they fail.

The Case Against White House Press Briefings

Ana Marie Cox posted a brief item today about the reportorial brain power that’s wasted at White House press briefings:

“It’s not that the reporters covering the president are bad at their jobs. Most are experienced journalists at the top of their game — and they’re wasted at the White House, where scoops are doled out, not uncovered. The day of a typical White House correspondent consists, literally, of waiting to be told things.”

That’s an excellent point. Why would news organizations want to assign their top talent to staged briefings where they would have almost no opportunity to break a significant story? The only problem with Cox’s article is that it is at least two years too late.

In May of 2006, I posted an item based on the musings of NYU journalism professor, Jay Rosen. The article addressed comments made by Bush Chief of Staff, Josh Bolton, who seemed to be considering ending the White House briefings. Rosen pointed out that ending the briefings was a two way street that could just as easily be exercised by the press. All they would have to do is stop showing up. Rosen went further to propose what is still an appealing alternative.

“Send interns instead to occupy the seats without asking questions or filing reports. That means no correspondents at the two daily briefings, none on the President’s plane, none at his public appearances. (Except for foreign trips where other heads of state might speak.) Let the White House publicize itself.”

If not interns, junior reporters would certainly be able to perform the stenographic services required in the briefing room. They could even ask pretty decent follow-up questions when necessary. In the meantime, the newsroom all-stars could be out raking up muck like they are supposed to be doing; like they were trained to do; like we, the news consumers, want them to do. Should anything of consequence occur (i.e. the President introduces his new puppy), it could be texted to a more experienced hand without even leaving the chair. But when was the last time something important was divulged in one of these gatherings?

Certainly the White House manipulates these briefings for their own purposes, but in a sense, that’s their job. They are political by definition. The press, however, have a thoroughly different job – to coax transparency from government officials who are usually adverse to volunteering it. But rather than fulfilling that mission, much of the White House press corps is more concerned with scoring invites to cocktail parties and dinners with the same officials they are supposed to be covering.

All too often, White House press events are exploited by ego-driven reporters who like to see their mugs on TV. For this reason they frequently pose questions that are artificially provocative in order to raise their buzz quotient. At the other end of the spectrum are the partisan hacks that seek to make a name for themselves by embarrassing the press secretary or the President. Just last week, this guy asked a question with a comically false premise that was dripping with derision:

“Tomorrow is tax day and a number of conservative groups are organizing these so called “tea parties” across the country; there are going to be grassroots uprising revolts against the administration’s policies so far. Is the President aware that these are going on and do you have any reaction to this?”

[By the way, if anyone knows who this guy is, please leave his name in comments. I have been unable to identify this Jeff Gannon wannabe] … [Update: This may be Jim Geraghty of the National Review]

As for the notion of reassigning cub reporters to the briefings, it’s still a good idea, but not one likely to be implemented any time soon. Too bad. It’s shame we have to watch the people who ostensibly earned the top positions in their field, sitting in rows like school children being lectured by the teacher. And if they really are the best, then who does that leave to do the real work of pounding the pavement and looking under rocks? It’s a system that rewards mediocrity.