Michael Graham is a Boston-based talk-radio host and frequent contributor to National Review Online for going on a decade. Recently the master of ceremonies at the Tax Day tea party in Boston, Graham talked to NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about his new book, That’s No Angry Mob, That’s My Mom — which is certainly one way to say “Hi, Mom” with political resonance.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: When did you first find out that your mother is a “right-wing domestic terrorist”?
MICHAEL GRAHAM: Believe me, nobody was more shocked than I was to discover that Pat Graham — grandmother, office manager, and soprano in the church choir — was in fact a Timothy McVeigh wannabe staking out federal buildings in her spare time. If you think I was surprised, you should have seen my mom.
LOPEZ: Are you overdoing it a bit there?
GRAHAM: Have you seen MSNBC lately? Or listened to President Clinton? According to them, it’s just a small step from “no more bailouts” to “token right-wing villain on 24.”
LOPEZ: Are you sure you should be so adamant about defending the tea partiers? Some of them are nuts, aren’t they?
GRAHAM: Of course there are nuts at tea parties. After all, I attend them.
But most of the “nuttery” is actually exaggeration, not delusion. For example, I think saying that President Obama is a Communist is silly. But as I write in the book, “socialist” was a title Obama himself wore proudly when running for office in Chicago and was used by the mainstream media to describe his philosophy when he was first elected. And the fundamentals underlying Obamacare are, in their essence, socialist. So when tea partiers were waving “Say No to Socialism” signs a year ago, were they crazy, or prescient?
LOPEZ: You write, “In Barack Obama’s America, ‘normal is the new freak.’” Well, a lot of freaks must have elected Obama president, then. What has to happen to keep them from doing it again?
GRAHAM: Barack Obama absolutely was elected by “normal people,” not his far-left base. Some were simply voting against Republicans as a way to vote against George W. Bush. Others wanted to cast a positive vote for a narrative of race relations in America. Still others voted for the biggest celebrity.
To keep this from happening again, I sincerely believe all we need to do is point. President Obama, the first American president who just doesn’t like Americans very much, is constantly attacking, insulting, and demeaning the fundamental American values that folks like my mom live by. Average Americans reject this time and again, so if we just stand up and go, “Look — he’s doing it again! More government and less freedom!” I think we’ll win.
The core premise of the book is that President Obama isn’t engaged in a debate over specifics like tax rates. It’s a debate over the character of America. Individual responsibility vs. collective action; rewarding achievement vs. “spreading the wealth”; self-reliance vs. bailouts.
These issues are fundamental, and typical Americans again and again reject the Left’s vision for a new, Europeanized America. That’s what brings folks like my mom out to tea parties.