Opinion

The Great Debate

Of the Tea Party, by the Tea Party, for the Tea Party

By Maureen Tkacik
August 19, 2011

By Maureen Tkacik
The opinions expressed are her own.

There is one thing more nauseating than watching our elected officials weasel their way through another Sunday morning rationalization of our ruinous economic policies: Watching the sole beneficiaries of those policies publicly distance themselves from those politicians on CNBC.

I am talking, generally, about rich people, although to be fair some rich people are more dishonest than others, as a tense Wednesday morning exchange between celebrity analyst Meredith Whitney and the network’s veteran correspondent Rick Santelli demonstrated. Delivering a meandering monologue assailing “children on both sides” of the aisle for…insufficiently gutting what remains of the social safety net, Whitney laid the blame for this failure on an unlikely constituency:

“Call it Tea Party, whatever you will, the fringe element is — I characterize (as) — freaked-out white men who are unemployed and have been unemployed for three years and they’re scared to death.”

To which Santelli retorted a few seconds later:

“Well you know the last person that said that was King George, and he said it about the colonists. Those were our Founding Fathers. You know what, you know what? How many muni, uh, areas have actually defaulted?”

Meredith, back in the studio, shaking head: “I don’t get it. Why is he so angry?”

Santelli: “Think about it. Think about it. Stick with munis.”

Santelli was, it’s worth remembering, one of the Tea Party’s Founding Fathers, having triumphantly launched the movement not a month after the Obama inauguration with a rambling sermon from the Chicago Board of Trade floor about his displeasure over the passage of a federal program supposedly intended to help underwater homeowners. (It ultimately helped virtually no one and cost virtually nothing.)

Meredith Whitney remembers: She has her own Rolodex full of Tea Party pundits and has probably done more than her angry male counterpart to advance its austerity agenda (which is what Santelli was getting at with the reference to muni defaults). I’ll detail that a bit later, but in this case sheer absurdity is the ultimate “tell.” Who else would have the nerve to go on TV with a claim so ludicrous as “The Tea Party comprises primarily frustrated jobless men hellbent on holding onto their unemployment benefits”? Only someone with a long history on Fox News. (Whitney met her husband on the set of a Fox business news show.)

Because while the campaign that brought them to power channeled the frustrations of some economically distressed voters, the Tea Party freshmen class comprises mostly millionaires, with a dozen or so reported to own assets valued into eight figure territory in financial disclosure forms:

  • Richard Hanna of upstate New York’s 24th district is worth between $11 million and $33 million amassed in the construction business.
  • Norfolk Marine-turned-Volvo dealer-turned-restaurateur-turned-congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia reports a fortune worth between $11.6 million and $48.2 million.
  • Nursing home operator and serial entrepreneur Rep. Jim Renacci of Columbus, Ohio has assets worth between $17.6 million and $39.9 million.
  • Nan Hayworth of New York and Diane Black of Tennessee are both former medical professionals whose husbands got rich in the health care business; Scott Hayworth (HHNW: $9.5 – $23.3 million) runs the dominant medical group in upper Westchester County and Black’s (HHNW: $14.7 – 84.1 million) runs the country’s preeminent drug testing lab.
  • North Dakota’s Rich Berg is a commercial real estate tycoon ($19.3 – $59 million) who served in the state legislature since 1985 before being elected to Congress.
  • Two oilmen in the freshmen class are also filthy rich: New Mexico’s Stevan Pearce ($8.4 – $38 million) and the Lone Star State’s Blake Farenthold ($10.4 – $31.4 million).

But treat those disclosures as “living documents” since this Congressional class has a record of underestimating its own wealth. Back in 2002 Pearce sold an oil services firm he had valued at $1 – $5 million for $12 million, then under-reported the value of that sale by about half. Berg’s forms list his interests in dozens of commercial real estate properties but left out 46,000 shares he owns in an oil services investment firm in which he is a director. (Among other things, Berg supports allowing oil companies to drill in state parks to pay for Social Security.) Last year an Ohio judge ruled that Renacci had under-reported his 2006 income by some $14 million.

Even the Tea Partiers who claim to be broke don’t apparently mean that literally; after reporting personal assets worth zero dollars, Tennessee’s Stephen Fincher made headlines for having received $3.34 million in federal agriculture subsidies in recent years; eventually he amended the form to include his cotton farm as an asset, estimating its value at $500,000. (South Dakota’s Kristi Noem has also collected more than $3 million in farm subsidies over the past decade, but her form only lists five assets worth somewhere between $33,000 and $145,000.)

It’s not hard to guess what these people see in Tea Party politics. Here is a movement united around an unfailing support of tax cuts for people like them, at a time in which poll after poll (23 polls, by one count) reveals the American electorate to be united by unprecedentedly broad-based support for doing the opposite. But there also more specific interests at play: the wealthier freshmen generally made their livelihoods in one of three economic sectors—health care/insurance, real estate and energy—whose profit margins not too long ago appeared particularly vulnerable to Obama’s policy goals.

  • Health care: 13 GOP freshmen hail from the business that comprises nearly a fifth of the nation’s economy and its one bonafide growth sector — which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if 43% of its annual revenues weren’t being paid by the government. Take it from the Tea Party governor whose hospital chain defrauded Medicare of about $1.7 billion. Here is an industry in which meaningful reform could clearly produce better care for more people at substantially lower costs; but meaningful reform in such businesses is rarely popular with the thousands of entrepreneurial individuals who have made fortunes mastering and exploiting the nuances of its dysfunctions.
  • Real estate and construction: all politics is real estate, so it is not exactly surprising that scores of Tea Party freshmen own a lot of houses. (Even Todd Rotika of Indiana, one of the famed faction of couch-sleepers too cheap to rent a place in Washington, owns three rental properties back home.) But in a crash, it’s noteworthy that so many men and women in the business would rally behind the Tea Party movement — again, founded in bitter opposition to the (overwhelmingly industry-supported) program designed to assist underwater homeowners.What is clear is that the housing nightmare was and remains the single biggest challenge facing the Obama administration, and any sane observer might have reasonably expected it to at some point acknowledge that by enacting policies that would be expected to have ramifications for the industry. (What happened instead is a mystery I’ll leave for another column.)
  • Oil and energy: here’s the Tea Party’s cash box — the movements biggest financial backers are also among the biggest oil barons in the country. Ten GOP freshmen have major interests in the energy (mostly oil) business, and they all managed to get elected on a “Drill Baby Drill” platform in the same year that witnessed the most devastating oil spill in recorded history, consigning green jobs, cap-and-trade and climate change to the dustbin for the foreseeable future.

Other freshmen have amassed wealth in agriculture (at least six have received federal farm subsidies), pro football (New Jersey’s Jon Runyon), defense and law. (Florida’s Dennis Ross served as general counsel to the Walt Disney Corporation.) But to return to the original point: where does Meredith Whitney get off depicting such rationally self-interested men and women as a bunch of loony out-of-work rednecks? One plausible explanation is the Tea Party itself, whose agenda Whitney has been tirelessly promoting since she left Oppenheimer, the firm at which she made her reputation, in 2009.

But whereas at her old firm Whitney distinguished herself as a rare “honest broker” amidst the obsequious cesspool of conflicted hacks by blowing the whistle on the financial system’s insolvency early, often and in granular detail that saved millions for any client wise enough to read her research, her bold pronouncements as the CEO of Meredith Whitney Advisory LLC have been vague, dubious and loudly smacking of short-sighted political opportunism. I refer, of course, to her wide-eyed prediction on a shamefully-sloppy 60 Minutes segment last winter that state and municipal bonds were headed for a spate of defaults, totaling between $50 billion and $100 billion in value, within the next year. The call had no basis in reality, nor had it anything approaching a historical precedent, nor had it anything remotely to do with Whitney’s realm of expertise.

But because municipal bonds are highly illiquid, low on media interest and held in large part by the sort of elderly, risk-averse investors likely to watch 60 Minutes, Whitney’s prediction roiled markets and generated loads of publicity. More importantly, however, it lent critical “independent” credence to the Tea Party-manufactured fiscal emergency occasioning the orgy of public spending cuts and crony capitalist privatization drives to which we’ve been treated ever since.

Whitney never misses an opportunity to praise the Tea Party agenda—look, here she is last month on CNBC castigating the blue states for being too eager to tax millionaires and “reticent to sell assets” and here she is a few weeks earlier defending one of their pet causes, the right of Big Finance to continue siphoning off of $30 billion a year in gratuitous “interchange fees” from customers and retailers; there she is postponing off an overseas trip to dine with Chris Christie—she just doesn’t usually refer directly to the “Tea Party.” She also rarely mentions her husband, the WWE wrestler-turned-conservative talk radio host, Fox personality and virility potion peddler John Layfield, in interviews. Like his wife Layfield claims to be nonpartisan, but he invariably toes the Tea Party line on TV, radio and Twitter, where some of his followers registered their dissatisfaction with his wife’s assessment of their cause (“Please ask Ms. Whitney to think before she shows her hatred of free heathens who do not worship Ivy League Elites,” was a typical Tweet.) Layfield’s old brokerage boss Robert Bonelli is an ardent Tea Partier who last year wrote a call-to-arms, Liberty Rising: A Treatise on the Restoration of Our Constitutional Republic.

More curiously, for seven months before she founded Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC, Whitney was registered with a firm called IRC Securities, which until recently went by the legal name Laffer Advisors for the famous Arthur Laffer, godfather of supply-side economics, prodigious right wing think tank scholar and co-author of the Rich States, Poor States survey, an annual production of the fearsome state legislature lobbying giant American Legislative Council that can be regularly relied upon to make the case for privatizing state services and slashing income taxes in favor of higher sales taxes and more casinos.

I have no idea what the nature of Whitney’s relationship with Laffer is, presuming (and it’s hard not to) there is one. For all I know they go way back—Laffer worked as an economic advisor in the Nixon White House when Whitney’s dad Dick P. Whitney was a key Commerce Department staffer during the early seventies, before the former defaced an historical napkin with his “Laffer Curve” and the latter went into venture capital. (Both also worked closely with the billionaire deficit alarmist Pete Peterson, who took over as Commerce secretary after the resignation of Martin Stans in 1972.)

But it’s probably always wise to keep an eyebrow permanently arched when Wall Streeters profess incredulity and/or ignorance toward the political process that has been so painstakingly gamed in favor of their own class interests. Just by way of example, CNBC blogger John Carney currently has an odd opinion column advising his Wall Street brethren to remember that while certain presidential candidates might strike them as “bizarre or fringy” it’s important to remember that they “aren’t usually running to be your president” but rather that of “another country that happens to share a legal system with us.”

If that message strikes you as vaguely disingenuous considering the unprecedented influence of money and corporate interests on electoral politics, consider the chosen topic of the keynote speech John’s brother Tim Carney delivered in January before an exclusive Palm Springs retreat for friends and ideological allies of the billionaire Tea Party benefactors Charles and David Koch: “Corporate welfare and bailouts, and the destructive influence of the Big Business lobby in Washington.”

I don’t need an invitation to a secret plutocrat retreat to point out what may be the single most destructive legacy of Big Business’s chokehold on the political system: its persistent success at hiding its true agenda from the public it spends such a fortune to manipulate behind “fringe element” platforms that distract the broader public from the long list of opinions they happen to hold in common: ideas like banning big bonuses at bailed-out banks (more than 70 percent, and even higher among Republicans) or ensuring the continued funding of beloved fixtures of American life from Medicare to PBS (69 percent oppose cutting off its funding) to even Planned Parenthood (57 percent of Americans support Planned Parenthood, a considerably higher percentage than those identifying themselves as “pro-choice.”)

There’s a reason no one ever coined the aphorism “unite and conquer.” Whenever two factions of American politics purport to be “teaming up,” one is usually simply allowing itself to be conquered by the other (wealthier) one. By the same token, perhaps the real reason Washington is said to have become more unbelievably, unprecedentedly, un-grownup-ishly partisan and divided with each new election cycle is because everyone is actually so likeminded on the issues—taxes, regulation, white collar crime, corporate predation—that really matter. (Which is to say: both sides agree that neither is served by making hay of any of those issues.)

The debt ceiling “standoff” was meaningful only inasmuch as the near-instant acceptance that the debt reduction measure supported by the vast majority of Americans (tax hikes) amounted to a “non-starter” so starkly illustrates the fraudulence of American “democracy.” That such Wall Street luminaries as Whitney and S&P took the opportunity to distance themselves from the Tea Party’s alleged radicalism merely shows how good they’ve gotten at playing along.

The Republican Party will be spared another 1996, in which the Republican Revolution almost unraveled in the intramural struggle to hold onto Congress while running a credible campaign for president, so that Michelle Bachmann or Ron Paul can become Barry Goldwater figures for the 21st century while another unctuous generation of arrogant Rubinites busies itself with the power trip of “governing” within the plutocracy’s narrow parameters.

Photo: A woman holds a sign with a message for U.S. President Barack Obama as dozens of Tea Party supporters rally near the U.S. Capitol against raising the debt limit in Washington, July 27, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Comments
99 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Great article. Thanks Maureen.

Posted by sal12241984 | Report as abusive
 

nice… but can u be “moe” concise? :)

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive
 

Agree with much of what you say, but geez, not a surprise you are an under employed writer with that stream-of-conscience writing style. Edit yourself.

Posted by OracleOfMumbai | Report as abusive
 

This article was quite informative. I had no idea about this…

Posted by FoxxDrake | Report as abusive
 

Ms. Tkacik, most of Congress is comprised of millionaires regardless of party affiliation, therein lies the problem.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive
 

this is maybe one of the stupidest things I have ever read, there is clearly a reasohn why she is underemployed

Posted by mickl | Report as abusive
 

It seems that the US is indeed becoming more like Italy.

Posted by Greenspan2 | Report as abusive
 

I don’t want to come off as snarky or petulant, but, it goes without saying that you’re absolutely right. But does it matter?

Anyone who has been paying any attention at all to the TP knows the truth — this is the same old bunch of right wingers in new garb. It’s Joe The Plumber writ large. What mystifies me is why does it seem to work? The richest, most reactionary types get the blue collar types to carry their water. And they love it. They call school teachers and cops making 50K a year elitists.

The real problem is that the American electorate is as stupid as compost. For example, Gov. Perry says that he wants to make the federal govt. inconsequential in people’s lives. The TP loves this sort of talk. But ask yourself this: why does he want to be the head of such an inconsequential body? I guess it’s not that inconsequential, after all.

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive
 

Tardia, one has to wonder how a governor that wanted to secede from the US can make government consequential in people’s lives. Perhaps he envisions a monarchy with King Parry presiding and channeling god.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive
 

I basically agree with your post IntoTheTardis, but I’d add that the American electorate is especially stupified by the fact that they can pick one of two options, both of which are nearly the same except for “accent.” You can fall down the tunnel of the Democratic “people’s party” myth, or you can get yanked up into the net of the Republican “family values and shining city” myth. Most people who see so well through the latter end up completely falling for the other “side.” Side, perhaps, as in “Side by Side.”

Posted by Rfairb | Report as abusive
 

Seattlesh, the Republicans started resembling the Tories since practically coronating Ronald Reagan as king and have been aspiring to royal court ever since. The God angle is just a Machiavellian ploy to manipulate the ignorant masses.

Posted by Greenspan2 | Report as abusive
 

Wow, you have to work really, really hard to think there are two parties. You are joking, right Maureen? You do understand they are the ying and yang of the same party, the Statist Party. Even if you are confused by the talk, the results should point you in the correct direction. If you enjoy being baffled, continue on with Go {R or D} Team! Blah blah blah.

The banksters are fine with it, as long as they continue to own all the players.

Posted by Gringott | Report as abusive
 

The blue-collar tea-partiers who made the take over of the U.S. House possible have no idea who they are working for. What we have there is a mob of senseless fanatics in the grasp of slick billionaires with a business agenda. Sadly, they seem to have won the recent battle to downgrade America as a means to achieve their ends. But I’m still not counting us hard-working patriotic Americans out.

Posted by march12 | Report as abusive
 

Tardis – Your comment “Anyone who has been paying any attention at all to the TP knows the truth” intersects with your comment “What mystifies me is why does it seem to work?” It works because everybody doesn’t know the truth. I’m not even sure if the majority is capable of understanding the truth, whatever it may be. We live in a culture were lies are glossed over as marketing and campaigning, ‘partisanship’ is considered ‘representation’, the ruling class has too much money and remains of touch with reality. They don’t even understand the day to day needs of the citizenry, nor do they want to. This happened with the French aristocracy long ago. It looks like it’s happening here, now. I’m certainly not arguing with you as you have very valid points. Thankfully people like Ms. Tkacik are willing to say it out loud. Thank you!

Posted by SeaWa | Report as abusive
 

Of course the TPers are fronted by the wealthy – they have been coerced (or propogandized) into believing that lowering taxes and less regulation will solve all the problems of America… that’s EXACTLY what the rich want. So what you have is maybe half of the top 1% funneling misinformation to a portion of the bottom 49% and from that comes your Tea Party. It’s not to say that these people don’t have real grievances and issues, but it’s been co-opted and taken over by hyper-wealthy and directed against anything constructive.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive
 

Hahahahahahahahahahah, listen honey, it’s a little larger than blaming someone else. American is going down the drain and taking feminism with it. Hope you know how to survive when there is no infrastructure. Do you know how to fish? Farm? Boil water on a campfire without matches? McMansions, day-spas, shoe stores and feminine doo-dads will be in short supply. Enjoy :)

Posted by DirteeHairee | Report as abusive
 

The real millionaires club is … well … the U.S. Congress. It’s been that way since the end of World War II. Of course the really big millionaires among them are still Demos. Maybe that will change in the future. Remember what one Afghan man said of his politicians, “It is good that the president and ministers are all rich. They won’t be inclined to steal as much while in office.”

Posted by OIFVetAtUSC | Report as abusive
 

Yes, these opinions may be your own, but they are also that of many misguided, misinformed, and those unwilling to see the truths of our society and government.

There truly are none so blind as those who will not see.

Posted by FearTheVoices | Report as abusive
 

Is Reuters a mouthpiece of the Communist Party? I know Obama is on the payroll of at least a few communists. What about Reuters’ Management?

Entrenched Management of ‘Green’ Publicly Traded Corporations, Be warned! The Guillotine is approaching. For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for ye!

Posted by amanpsingh | Report as abusive
 

OK, so there are rich politicians gaming the tea party. Not really much of a real surprise there as the keyword that gives it all away is “politician”.

The everyday people that identify with the tea party are (in my opinion) the 30/40 something average middle class crowds that realized back in high school that the contemporary dichotomy of economics and liberalism could never be paired. Now we are witnessing the predicitions become reality and it’s effecting core personalities by over-compensating in specific areas. This is a phenomena that politics appears to have on many people.

The middle class feels that the real burdens rise and fall with them. They pay the highest percentage of real taxes, and receive the least amount of government benefits. It’s pretty easy to understand why they might want something to believe in.

When you come to understand that your never-employed single parent neighbor whom has 5 children (from as many partners) enjoys more luxuries than you can provide for your family of 3 on a dual income, you begin to question the system.

When you realize that they were given a mortgage modification to cut their payments in half (while your family was denied) you really begin to question the system.

When you learn that their family was allowed to ring up 50k in credit card debt and was then automatically forgiven in chapter 7 but you don’t qualify for chapter 7 Bankruptcy even though the only debt you have is the mortgage on your home (ya know cuz our mortgage is still due at full pop – mod declined) you become disenfranchised and will look to anything that resembles fairness.

When politicians use the word “wealthy” and “taxes” together, the middle class gets worried because somehow the middle class appear to be the wealthy ones in everyones eyes but their own.

As for social issues such as gay marriage and pro-choice agendas, I bet alot of people would be surprised about how few “tea baggers” really oppose the key liberal social issues (minus immigration reform) and really are focused on financial stability for the future.

Posted by Baywatch | Report as abusive
 

What a bunch of gibberish. At least she has found the solution to the homeless problem, we should elect only them to congress. I’m sure they are more qualified then folks who have shown the initiative, political saavy, and intelligence to run organizations as they also demonstrated discipline and restraint by not wasting this wealth as it flowed in over time. You jealous whiners are absolutely sick.

Posted by indylator | Report as abusive
 

And to all those who claim the tea partiers are middle class gullibles carrying the water for rich republicans I have some questions – who’s water are you carrying? The civil rights leaders who somehow amass millions while they champion to cause of the downtrodden? How about the large number of Democrats in congress who have increased their millions on average by 50+% during this economic disaster?

I see the arguement all the time from your side that republicans who campaign as family values candidates need to be held to a higher standard because of their sermonizing. Well, should this hold equally true of Democrats who campaign as champions of the underpreviledged need to demonstrate their concern by personally donating enough that their personal capital is impacted significanlty? Anything less and I say they say “do as I legislate and not as I do.”

Posted by indylator | Report as abusive
 

Most remarkable to me is the TP has convinced large masses of middle-class voters to cut middle-class benefits programs so that we can retain upper-class tax cuts. Strange that large groups of people would willingly turn the gun around and shoot their own foot, and cheer for themselves while their doing it.

Posted by ChitFromChinola | Report as abusive
 

I think this waaaaay too long article would´ve benefitted from less sensationalism. In politics, finding the contradictions means little to nothing, being able to forsee future actions is far more valuable.

Posted by OrlandoGomezT | Report as abusive
 

The author of this article is obtuse. So what if elected reps are millionaires? Well they should be, as it costs a small fortune to run for office. But I have been to tea=party rallies and observed a healthy mix of US citizens from all races/incomes/egions, etc.

Arrogant snobs such as Maureen Tkacik bash the tea-party as it represents an existential threat to the Washington, DC beltway status quo. Face it! What good is the Democratic Party if it cannot tax and spend? What purpose does it have?

Rant and rave as much as you want, Maureen, but there are a lot of Americans who have had their fill of your type of condescending jerks ridiculing them, and they will be voting, en masse, come November 2012. Viva la revolucion!

Posted by Jim_in_Sai_Gon | Report as abusive
 

The Tea Party is poorly defined, as usual.

Posted by AndyAE | Report as abusive
 

Learn your Founding Documents at:

http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_p latform.php#TOP

BEWARE: They use the same worldview as the Early Colonialists.

Posted by Gregory8 | Report as abusive
 

I agree with this commenter, “but geez, not a surprise you are an under employed writer with that stream-of-conscience writing style. Edit yourself.”

Posted by Medieval | Report as abusive
 

I am facing difficulty in getting money and I want to emphasize the need for retirement apart from the work I can get later on and I want to have retirement through a private sector retirement fund and if there will be a deal to be made for a tri-national entity such as retaining entity of where I live in with condition of proof of service for military being proven and actual name is reflected to real entity, though I won’t have any military career with their military ever, as this is the last condition, then government’s own social security services can retire me with those to indemnify could orientate relevant money for there too as there is such a hazard next Saturday with nature of adverse message to consist of debt too as well as a court-martial summons. If my biological family will not help me represent myself in ECHR since attorney fees and other expenses are not affordable as I don’t have any sponsor at moment, then I may reconsider my ties with them and instead get the nationalities I deserve by birth to be handed out with another name, such as one I use now. These messages if censored could be regarded as obstructing justice and testifying too.

Posted by ta-boo | Report as abusive
 

One needs to read no further than the characterization of the congressmen as “filthy” rich. I suppose that working and being successful at a business is to be considered somehow dirty and dishonest while sitting and watching Sponge Bob while collecting unemployment benefits is noble and pure.
Maybe when the author finishes graduate school and gets a job she will see things differently. That is if she gets a job. That couch looks mighty comfy.

Posted by k123kj | Report as abusive
 

Interesting but otherwise rambling article. Would be much easier to read with some editing and structure.

Tea party was started by Dick Armey with funding from billionaire far right wing Koche brothers. Its a far right wing think tank disguised as a grass roots movement.

Posted by CC58 | Report as abusive
 

So they made their money actually working for it, not by backroom deals and shenigans of life time politicians aka Reid, Pelosi, and the likes. What’s wrong with making money movie stars make a lot of money and are in the Democrats pockets don’t see you criticizing them. You reporters and the likes make me want to vomit. I am glad I am in a country that allows me to pursue as far as I can go. Those who do have, those who don’t are complaining and are in the Democrats pocket.

Posted by fedupp | Report as abusive
 

@gregory8

Conservatives of the 21st century identical A=A with revolutionists from the 18th century? In what way is gutting the living standards of the population and propping a failed system of exploitation a “revolutionary” act. It reactionary. If the founding fathers advocated such a position, they would have sustained Feudalism. It is not an argument either to just shout Constitution instead of making an argument.

Posted by Rfairb | Report as abusive
 

Surprise the WSJ did not get rid of you earlier.

The writing style is ok for blogging and other time wasting activities, but terrible for to-the-point journalism.

It is only published in Reuters (the enemy of objective journalism)because it is anti-right wing.

What a rambling bit of junk the article is.

Posted by eleno | Report as abusive
 

Well said, Baywatch.

SeaWa, we must not forget that the “rich” do what they do because anyone in their place would do the same. It is human nature…and inevitable.

Posted by S2art | Report as abusive
 

SeaWa, your “We live in a culture were lies are glossed over as marketing and campaigning…” hits the mark. In discussing some of the gross hypocrisy, lies, and other stupidity coming out of Rick Perry’s mouth recently, Michael Steel defended it to Chris Matthews by saying something like Perry was just talking to the Republican base to whom he needs to pander during the primaries, and that Perry wouldn’t say such things to the folks on the show or inside the Beltway (i.e., smart people). Really, Steel thinks this is okay! Clearly, this sort of stuff still works in most politics in today’s information society. Most Americans are dumb and we’re truly doomed!

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive
 

Try getting to the point quicker, as in immediately.

Posted by IvanG | Report as abusive
 

It’s all about money and power, and always has been. At election time, are the politicians who mysteriously show up on our ballots year after year the best and brightest minds this country has to offer? Nope. They get there because they already have money and power, or they are weak-minded mutts who can be controlled by money and power like puppets on a string. Nowhere does intelligence enter into the equation when running for office and running our country.

Posted by gruven137 | Report as abusive
 

LIberals are SO much smarter than everyone else. The rest of us are just dupes of a rich-people’s conspiracy. And we’re too dumb even to realize it.

Maybe you should take pity on us?

Posted by NewsLady | Report as abusive
 

And the famous Watergate adage sounds again – ‘follow the money’. There are always places in time when people can be easily convinced to follow nearly anything, no matter how obviously misguided it looks with some time to consider. Witness Iraq. Congratulations on distancing yourself from the ‘Journal’. I’ll look forward to future pieces

Posted by auger | Report as abusive
 

I understand why Maureen is underemployed…she will never be a real reporter or journalist until she learns to objectively report the truth… This is purely a propaganda piece with no basis in reality with regard to what she is trying to imply.

The author is trying to portray the new Congress members as being “The Tea Party”. First of all, there is no one “Tea Party”. Second, the new Congressmen are simply politicians who were supported by various TEA party groups because they liked their stand on issues. Of course they are rich–all politicians are rich. Poor people do not get elected to high office. But the bulk of the people who comprise the TEA parties (plural) are merely average people from all walks of life (rich and poor, male, female, white, hispanic, black, asian, etc.,) And they are not led by any single person or group–they are independent groups. Finally, it is disingenuous to call Santelli a “founding father” of “the Tea Party”…he was merely the catalyst who inspired and motivated people to take action. The unrest was already there but most of us have jobs so it is difficult for us to organize and protest. And we certainly don’t employ professional protestors like the left does.

That said, I want to know if the left will ever dare to stop lying and manipulating information and actually have the decency to tell the truth once in a while. I am sickened by the constant barrage of false propaganda being perpetuated upon the unsuspecting citizens of this country.

Posted by JanineC | Report as abusive
 

Right on Maureen, I myself have major distrust of rich people and have for about 20 years. Rich people just use divide-and-conquer tactics, fear tactics, and other ignoble tactics against everyone else.

Posted by trist823 | Report as abusive
 

Ms. Tkacik, terrific the way you bash “The Tea Party” The Tea Party?, is’nt that some evil, dark, sinister organization?? NO,NO!!, they are AMERICAN CITIZENS that want nothing to do with Obama’s plan to CHANGE our country into a third world, socialist, UN dependant, nation of subjects!! Go away Obama, I’m an AMERICAN and plan to remain that way!!!! PS, Ms.Tkacik, why don’t you go with HIM!!!!!!

Posted by inyourface | Report as abusive
 

I think that there is a little confusion about who the Tea Party actually is. For example… Jamie Radtke is running for Senate, but to do that she had to step down as the Virginia Tea Party federation chair. The Tea Party bi-laws do not allow for someone that is running for national office to be a member, so no one that is currently sitting in congress is a member of the Tea Party. They are however people that the Tea Party has chosen to go to Washington to push four simple ideas. 1) Constitutional adherence. 2) Fiscal responsibility. 3) Equality under the law. 4) Repeal of Obama-care. These are pretty simple strait forward goals, and not radical at all.
Now as for the actual Tea Party, we are a hodgepodge of individual groups around the country that work at the local level on different issues, but we can, through different social media, come together to work on national issues (Like Obama-care and the debt ceiling). Each individual tea party is made up of individuals. That means that we are a diverse group of people that don’t like being put into a box. For example… I am white, 37, make 35,000 dollars a year, live on a farm, and agnostic, while others are doctors, lawyers, small businessmen, housewives, and just about every other background. We have republicans, democrats and independents. We have blacks, whites, and every other nationality. We are not all unemployed scare white guys. We are not all rich white guys over 55, and if you are a racist, homo-phobic, or advocate violence your Tea Party membership can be clocked with an egg timer. We happen to be real people from every background, but one thing that we all have in common is that we all see ourselves as individuals.
As for the Rich people that we elected to office. Wealthy people that share the Tea Parties values are good people… Wealthy yes, but good people. Having a lot of money doesn’t make you evil, being evil makes you evil. The reason we look to people with a large bank accounts is because those are the people that know what business likes. Businesses hire people, people need jobs, and these are the people that can help this country create jobs. Job growth comes from the private sector, and you have to understand how the private sector works if you want to grow the economy.
The fact that the “Tea Party” representatives are wealthy tells us that they are successful business men and women. That is not a bad thing. That is something to be admired. That is the American dream. Tea Partiers are strong minded, Type A individuals that only ask for the opportunity to succeed. We don’t want handouts, socialized medicine, or to be taxed into poverty.

Posted by B-Trip | Report as abusive
 

@newslady That’s right – if you were smarter you’d probably be liberal too. We don’t take pity on you because you are wilfully ignorant… I personally feel sorry for people who would give anything for a chance but never get it, not yokels who are happy on their dirt farms with a shotgun in one hand and a bible in the other.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive
 

Wow, what a bizarre hash of propaganda and bologna.

What is the Tea Party? They WERE a small movement to reduce taxation but it was co-opted by the insurance companies and used to combat what the corporations saw as a serious threat to making profits from msuffering: Obama.

And that is now ALL that they are. Don’t fool yourself.

Posted by sgreco1970 | Report as abusive
 

For your next post you should write about the 10 richest members in the Senate. Amazingly eight of them are Democrats. You definitely bring valid points, however they can be applied to all politicians reguardless of party affiliation.

Posted by UnPartisan | Report as abusive
 

That’s me, CDN, Bible in one hand, shotgun in the other.

According to you.

But what if it isn’t true? What if I don’t fit your stereotype? Is there any room in your mind to admit that possibility?

Posted by NewsLady | Report as abusive
 

@ OIFVetAtUSC

“It is good that the president and ministers are all rich. They won’t be inclined to steal as much while in office.”
How naive can you get? How do you think they got there in the first place?
Stealing is not just about money. They can steal your trust, your sincerity, your heart or anything that keeps them in power.
BEWARE!!!

Posted by doctorjay317 | Report as abusive
 

As far as the freshmen Tea party representatives most are millionaires and probably have some form of higher education. It is the Tea Party voters who are the least educated and are mostly old white males who are so afraid that minorities will take over America. They need to face the facts. Minorities are will out number whites in less than 20 years, and no matter how hard you try you can’t turn back the clock. Once they control Congress they will take out their exasperation on the very same people who kept them down. Do here that Koch Brothers.

Posted by bobw7s6 | Report as abusive
 

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