Taibbi meets the Tea Party

And insanity ensues:

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”

“Yeah,” he says, “but I don’t make very much.” Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending ā€” only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations.

The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending ā€” with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about ā€” and nowhere do we see that dynamic as clearly as here in Kentucky, where Rand Paul is barreling toward the Senate with the aid of conservative icons like Palin.

6 thoughts on “Taibbi meets the Tea Party

  1. Every time I read or hear about the Tea Baggers, I feel like Roddy Piper in “They Live.” Like I surrounded by alien monsters just barely passing as human beings, and I’m the only one around me who can see it.

  2. It’s just a coincidence then that the “tea movement” started after the election of a Democratic Black American as president…

  3. So, there are people in the tea party on Medicare, so what? They paid for it. My concern is for the future of our children. We don’t need more socializing, we need more privatizing. We are now just one step away from communism. There has to be away to turn this ship away from communism and back into a thriving economy. Our children’s future freedom depends on it.

  4. So the only government programs worth a damn are those where the money you suck out of it is equivalent to the money you pay in? Those programs don’t exist, either state by state or person by person.

    Tell that lie to the workers who are subsidizing those on Medicare now, especially those who pay taxes as undocumented immigrants and can ask for nothing, lest they get deported.

    The only thing you fear, ma’am, is the socialism of a welfare state as already applied to defense contractors, government cronies and corporations somehow not extending to you, but somehow reaching someone who actually needs help. And, if you actually cared about “our children”, you’d be the first in line for universal healthcare, so those children wouldn’t have parents going into debt just to pay for their health insurance, nor would have classmates going unvaccinated because their parents the money for shots on food.

    We live in a state that when it comes to corporations, isn’t functionally different than China: Cronies and family members win, and we lose.

  5. I’m with Laura on so what to Taibbi’s big “discovery” that there are Tea Partiers on Medicare, but for different reasons. Scarcity brings fear, anger, and protest. The Tea Partiers (and Republicans generally) have diverted people’s attention away from the real culprits here, their own corporate giveaways and Treasure-robbing largesse for war and big business, and their Democratic enablers. But so have the Democrats, by focusing all their attention at ginning up scorn and disdain for those crazy, backwards TParties, rather than producing a coherent counternarrative (if they did that, they might actually have to do some of the things they, you know, promised to do) or actually working at improving the material lives of the popular (eg, improving employment instead of “restructuring” the unemployment numbers to not sound so bad).

    Taibbi’s just the latest player in the “Oh Those Stupid Rubes!” game that’s so popular among progressives. I guess it’s still effective since it’s carried over from 2008. And it IS a game, it’s entertainment, bread and circuses meant to distract us from the fact that we have 10% official unemployment (close to 20% real), Wall St got a “recovery” while us plebes got jack and lost our homes in the bargain. TPartiers may be mistaken about the source of their loss of income, and economic security, but they’re right that they’re losing. We all are. But some people have more fun hand-wringing and snarking over “those” stupid people (plus, they’re old! did Matt mention, they’re old! not hip and young and shiny, or kewl like Taibbi, so we don’t have to care about their fears, or the fact that they’re getting screwed by both legacy parties, as are we) than providing a substantive policy counter to their fears.
    So, the people he interviewed are hypocrites and haven’t fully thought through their political stance. I know plenty of people on the other side of which the same could be said, it’s hardly some revelational discovery.

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