Wednesday, August 28, 2019


As far as I can tell, Jeremy Peters of The New York Times really believes this:
In the late summer of 2009, as the recession-ravaged economy bled half a million jobs a month, the country seemed to lose its mind....

Organizers convened mass gatherings across the country called “tea parties,” and they had a specific set of demands: Stop President Barack Obama’s health care law; tame the national deficit; and don’t let the government decide which parts of the economy are worth rescuing.

Ten years since that summer of rage, the ideas that animated the Tea Party movement have been largely abandoned by Republicans under President Trump. Trillion-dollar deficits are back and on track to keep growing. The Affordable Care Act has never been repealed, and Republicans concede it may never be....

But [the Tea Party] continues to define the country today. It ignited a revival of the politics of outrage and mistrust in government, breathing new life into the populist passions that continue to threaten the stability of both political parties. Even if the Tea Party’s ideas are dead, its attitude lives on.
The point Peters makes in that last paragraph is unobjectionable: Even though the Tea Party is dead, its anger is still with us today.

But "a specific set of demands"? Seriously? Even New York Times reporters knew better than that at the time. Here are excerpts from a February 2010 Times story by David Barstow:
Tea Party supporters are already singling out Republican candidates who they claim have “aided and abetted” what they call the slide to tyranny: Mark Steven Kirk, a candidate for the Senate from Illinois, for supporting global warming legislation; ... Meg Whitman, a candidate for governor in California, for saying she was a “big fan” of Van Jones, once Mr. Obama’s “green jobs czar.”

... Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Many describe emerging from their research as if reborn to a new reality. Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst.

... Tea Party gatherings are full of people who say they would do away with the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies.... Some of the prescriptions they are debating — secession, tax boycotts, states “nullifying” federal laws, forming citizen militias — are outside the mainstream, too.

... Tea Party events have become a magnet for other groups and causes — including gun rights activists, anti-tax crusaders, libertarians, militia organizers, the “birthers” who doubt President Obama’s citizenship, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and proponents of the sovereign states movement.

It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny. This narrative permeates Tea Party Web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos. It is a prominent theme of their favored media outlets and commentators, and it connects the disparate issues that preoccupy many Tea Party supporters — from the concern that the community organization Acorn is stealing elections to the belief that Mr. Obama is trying to control the Internet and restrict gun ownership.
Everyone knew that at the time. Everyone knew that the Tea Party was a toxic hash of every ugly idea that have ever crawled up from the right-wing swamps -- the most prominent of which was that Barack Obama was a subhuman Negro usurper with no loyalty to America.

Peters clearly did only a cursory review of old stories. He didn't interview a single rank-and-file member of the Tea Party, though he did interview several political insiders who were linked to the Tea Party's upper echelons. They told him the Tea Party had carefully delineated goals. The historical record says otherwise. It's not just that the rage of the Tea Party was indistinguishable from the rage of Trump's deplorables -- the racism and conspiratorialism were nearly identical. Peters should know that, and say it.



Well, at least the Times saw the error of its ways.

Or maybe not:

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