Idiots! Racists! McCarthyites! Fascists! Uh . . . never mind.
That, roughly speaking, is the evolution of the tea parties in the liberal imagination. Individual assessments may vary (e.g. first racists, then idiots), but as a generalization, it works.
Let’s have a quick flashback. In February of 2009, CNBC’s Rick Santelli went into an on-air rant about how the stimulus package should prompt protests like the original Boston Tea Party. Boom: Almost overnight, informal tea-party-themed protests popped up across the country.
After an initial surge in ironic “teabagging” jokes, reporters and liberal commentators were completely flummoxed as to why so …