Politics & Policy

Party Smartly

The tea partiers who will assemble today are aware, savvy, and focused.

Welcome to Tax Day 2010, or as it’s known at the White House, Obama’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

And if yesterday’s Boston tea party with Sarah Palin is any indication, it’s only going to get worse.

The first question I got after walking off the stage on Boston Common yesterday was “How big is the crowd?” The number — somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 — is irrelevant. The crowd was impressive, and not just for its size.

This was a smart, savvy, and disciplined group. They knew what the game was and were playing it to win. Liberals hoping to see the Tea Party Express careen off a political embankment were very disappointed.

The government-establishment politicians targeted by tea partiers are counting on one of two things happening before November. Either the tea partiers will get bored, lose focus, and move on; or else their passion and anger will inspire them to do something stupid and self-destructive that will marginalize the entire movement.

Both scenarios are possible. But judging by Boston’s event, they’re getting less and less likely.

For weeks, local liberal activists had talked openly about infiltrating the event with bogus racist or homophobic signs (quick question: If the tea partiers are racists, as the liberals allege, why do the lefties have to bring the racist signs themselves?). The local media was awash in handwringing about the “angry mob” descending on the Common.

One local alt-weekly, the Boston Phoenix, ran a less-than-credible cover story attempting to portray the tea-party movement as an active ally of racist militia movements. Another liberal publication published signs for tea-party opponents to use to “greet” Palin. One featured two elephants copulating. Another referred to her as a “crazy bitch.” And in a bizarre twist from the “feminist,” antiSecond Amendment Left, another sign showed Palin’s face on a bleeding tea bag with bullet holes all around.

In that climate, who knew what to expect? Would the nonstop insults and ridiculous accusations drive some attendees to react angrily, rather than thoughtfully, under the glare of the media spotlight?

I had nothing to worry about. The crowd was spectacular — funny, enthusiastic, happy, respectful. Many people I talked to seemed disappointed that so few liberal plants and counterprotesters showed up. They wanted the chance to prove that they were rational, reasonable, and ready to debate.

There were a few lefty cranks in attendance. Some of the published Palin attack signs were on display. One group of girls held signs reading “I heart abortions. They’re fun” that were clearly designed to provoke. Other signs simply declared everyone in attendance racists, sexists, homophobes, and “retards.”

Because liberals are classy that way.

The tea partiers didn’t even break a sweat. They ignored the provocation and enjoyed the show instead.

As for offensive or racist signs from tea partiers, I worked my way through the entire crowd twice and didn’t see a single one. Members of the mainstream media also conducted a thorough sign-by-sign search looking for anything that could be construed as racist, and as of my latest Google News search this morning, they had nothing.

No memo went out to tea partiers about what signs to bring, or how to handle some clueless college punk with a sign calling them “retards.” They did this without leadership.

The tea partiers don’t need it. They are activism entrepreneurs, self-motivated and self-organizing. Today, for example, there will be more than 100 tea-party events in big cities such as Washington, D.C., and smaller communities such as Lowell, Mass. Their financial reach is nationwide, too, as they find candidates like Scott Brown and pour millions into their campaigns without any prodding from a party or leader.

So how can it be a surprise to the mainstream media that a new New York Times/CBS poll shows that tea-party attendees are better educated than the average American? This is only news to those who’ve never spoken to a tea partier. It also reflects previous research about talk-radio listeners, showing that they’re some of the best-educated and most knowledgeable of all media consumers.

Which is why they’re not bothered that Senator Brown avoided the Boston event. They know it’s about political strategy, and they get it. Many of the Massachusetts conservatives who worked hard to elect Brown in January knew his politics were more moderate than their own, but they also understood the strategic importance of electing him.

And while the Boston crowd treated Palin like a rock star Wednesday, they also know her limitations — as the new poll shows. She may or may not be presidential material, but she does a great job of laying out the failings of this president and the hopes for our next one.

There were many great signs at the event, but the trend that caught my eye was how many of them specifically mentioned November 2, Election Day. These folks have their eyes on the prize. Repealing Obamacare and dumping Washington’s far-left leadership won’t happen in a city park; it will happen in a voting booth.

And the tea-party folks I spoke to Wednesday won’t need an SEIU-organized bus to get there, either.

 Michael Graham is an NRO contributor and author of the new book That’s No Angry Mob, That’s My Mom (Regnery, 2010).

Michael GrahamMichael Graham was born in Los Angeles and raised in South Carolina. A graduate of Oral Roberts University, he worked as a stand-up comedian before beginning his political career as ...


The Latest