Friday, November 6, 2009

No Pretense of Deniabiility

Conservatives march in Washington  Nov. 5: Rep. Michele Bachmann led about 4,000 protesters and other Republican leaders to participate in a "Superbowl of Freedom," to protest the House health reform bill.

Josh Marshall: Party On
Capitol Tea Party protestor Christi Becker on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): "She exudes truth. I completely trust her. I'm glad people are seeing that Michele Bachmann has backing and that so many people believe in her."
(Video of the arrests.)
See more scenes from the day in our Storming the Capitol/Capitol Tea Party Slideshow...
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Josh Marshall: The Tea Party Big Picture 
TPMDC's Evan McMorris-Santoro spent the day among the Tea Party crowd at the Capitol. And Christina Bellantoni filed this report on what the Tea Partiers are saying about 2010 based on interviews she conducted with the protestors. Both are great reads. And I'd suggest reading both of them.
In many ways, though, what struck me most about today was what happened at the podium.
This event began as a Tea Party event organized and galvanized by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the over-the-top, far-right congresswoman from Minnesota. As recently as Monday, the event was getting little more than polite, if tepid, endorsements from the Republican House leadership. We were on the organizational conference calls yesterday evening. And even then it was pretty much still her affair, with a mindset and affect to match.
But something funny happened at the event today. Virtually every marquee member of the GOP House caucus, including Boehner and Cantor, were there up on the platform speaking to the crowd. (See a highlight reel of the speeches here.) Bachmann was the start. But basically all of them were up there with her.
Early this morning The Politico got hold of a Republican Study Committee email asking staffers to send their members to the event but also to avoid words like "rally" and "protest" in favor of "press conference" or "press event". Clearly, there was an effort to sanitize the event and get away from Bachmann's high-strung rhetoric about a "last stand" against health care reform. So on the one hand the House Republicans wanted to take over the event. But they also felt the need to get out in front of it, to be in front of the crowd. It was a perfect, real-time illustration of the current struggle within the GOP, with the party establishment trying to harness but also control and not be overrun by the grassroots mobilization on the right.
But taking it all in, with Boehner up there saying health care reform was the biggest threat to freedom he'd ever seen, the Dachau signs, the arrests and the rest, it seemed more like the institutional GOP again being overwhelmed by its base, caving to them, joining them -- the phrasing doesn't really matter. This was Bachmann's event. They may have been worried even last month about her effect on the party's image. But she's leading; they're following.
Think Progress: G. Gordon Liddy’s producer claims around ‘a million’ attended the GOP’s anti-health care reform rally. 
After the 9/12 march on Washington, conservatives falsely claimed that over a million people attended, when in reality the closest thing to an official count — numbers given by the Washington DC Fire Department to — placed the crowd at “approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people.” Though today’s anti-health care reform rally has been much more sparsely attended, that hasn’t stopped conservatives from inflating the numbers again. On G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show today, producer Franklin Raff, who was on the ground at the rally, told guest host Joseph Farah that the crowd is “just as big or bigger than” the 9/12 rally, which Raff estimated “at about a million.” Listen here:

Capitol Hill police told NBC’s Luke Russert that the crowd was about 4,000. At around 2 PM eastern time, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) posted an aerial picture of the crowd on her TwitPic page, clearly showing a crowd far, far smaller than “a million”:

Rep. Lynn Jenkins' (R-KS) TwitPic of rally crowd

Jon Stewart and the perfect Glenn Beck parody.   Glenn Beck, the leader of the teabag movement. 
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  1. there were almost that many people at the gathering for rights in ethiopia (?) when we were there. a million people would bill the museum mall, at least. this is a front yard meet and greet sized crowd.

  2. One of the wingnut's problems is clearly an inability to count. Or, phrased another way, to see the world as it truly is.

  3. Another convention of angry and clueless white people stormed into Washington, DC the other day, determined to destroy the type of health care reform that - if it goes into effect - will surely save the lives of most of the protesters who were in attendance (or their loved ones). It was the sort of weird, indescribable spectacle that makes the train-wreck of American politics (not to mention the got-busting stupidity of so many Americans) such a perverse delight to behold these days. Let's face it: crazy people are always loads of fun to watch - and the knuckleheads who showed up in Washington last week didn't disappoint.

    At least one person held up a huge sign that showed a pile of bodies, victims of the European holocaust of the thirties and forties. Above this gruesome reminder of humanity's capacity for evil were the words:


    Isn't that sweet? That seems to be quite a popular thing to do these days - equating anything connected with this administration and this president to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it? But the highlight of the day (for my money anyway) was Congressman John Boehner. He held up a copy of what he claimed was his own personal copy of the Constitution and proceeded to quote from "it":

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident - that all men are created equal."

    That's not from the Constitution, Johnny. That's from the Declaration of Independence - which was written thirteen years earlier! Were we able to go back in time to 1966 - when I was in the third grade - I could have told you that then, too. When we've gotten to a point where our elected representatives can't even get basic American history right, we're in, as Harry Truman liked to say, "one hell of a fix."

    Tom Degan