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President Obama hears the Tea Party

Tea Partyers might not know it -- and some of them might not even care -- but President Obama hears them. In an interview this morning with Matt Lauer of the Today Show, Obama talked about the agitated movement and what he is doing to address their legitimate concerns. (Start the video at 5:30.) He talks about the political divide and working with Republicans, too, which I'll tackle later.

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Echoing some of the commentariat, Obama said, “There's a part of the Tea Party movement that actually did exist before I was elected. We saw some of it leading up to my election. There were some folks who just weren’t sure whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist." Then he gave voice to the real concerns of the sane elements of the Tea Party.

"I think that there’s a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much," Obama said. "And last year, a bunch of the emergency measures we had to take, in terms of dealing with the bank crisis, bailing out the auto industry, fed that sense that things were out of control. And I think those are folks who have legitimate concerns.

"And so I wouldn't paint in broad brush and say that everybody who is involved or have gone to a Tea Party rally or meeting are somehow on the fringe," said Obama, who displayed an understanding of the broader movement that many on the left can't or refuse to acknowledge. "Some of them, I think, have some legitimate, mainstream concerns, and my hope is that as we move forward and we’re tackling things like the deficit, imposing a freeze on domestic spending, taking steps that show we are sincere about dealing with our long-term problems, that some of that group will dissipate.” One can only hope.

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 30, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: After signing health-care bill, Obama's unfinished business



Posted by: yourmomscalling | March 30, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

you know, when you repeat ron paul buzzwords like "Sheeple," you make clear that you're not forming your own thoughts.

Posted by: tn13 | March 30, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Clearly people like Yourmomscalling cannot be reasoned with. I think President Obama is wasting his time trying to understand the anger of the teapartiers. They don't even know why they are angry.

Frankly, I'm already tired of hearing about them. These teapartiers only make up a small percentage of the country. Like any train wreck, it was fun to watch but it's time to move on.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | March 30, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

After messing with our healthcare, raising taxes a bundle and giving labor what they demanded, Obama says he hears the grass roots. He has been lying to us since day 1. If you believe him now, you are really stupid. Americans have a legitimate reason to see all his records. We do not want a pretender in the WH and we need to be able to make that decision. It does not matter whether one is white, green, yellow, brown or blue! The only truths he has told are that we would know him by those around him in the WH and that SEIU would make his decisions while he spread the wealth. Hopefully those who did not vote in 2008 will vote in 2010 and we will get rid of the enablers in congress who have backrupted this great nation. The dems have got to go!!

Posted by: annnort | March 30, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: edismae | March 30, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

@yourmomscalling, you know the more caps you use, the louder you scream with the name-calling, the more reasonable and thoughtful you sound. Go for it.

You make me want to vote for Obama again...seriously, someone get me a ballot. I realize that after 8 years of President Bush in the White House, Republicans at all levels are just flat out pissed to no longer be getting their way. And I know that it's been so long since the voting public has heard a measured, intelligent man speak that the sheer unfamiliarity probably heightens their fear of our current President. But sheesh-can we please recall that what we had going into 2008 was a raw mess, it wasn't working, and the whole reason that Obama was elected was to get serious and make changes? No one on either side of the aisle ever said it would be fun or easy-but these changes are certainly necessary. We were in trouble, people-and I for one wanted and still want a man of action, a man of of seriousness and consideration at the helm to work through this set of crises. Obama has done more in his first year than Bush did in his 8. And I am heartened that he's not angling for a second term-he doesn't care about that as much as he cares about getting these fixes in place, tackling the issues one by one and doing the hard work that needs doing. Imagine if we had, oh, say 300 million or so more people had the same drive. Including those Emron/AIG/Wall Street/Banking fat cats who dragged our economy into this mess on President Bush's snickering watch.

Posted by: SHansen1168 | March 30, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Annnort wrote:
Americans have a legitimate reason to see all his records. We do not want a pretender in the WH and we need to be able to make that decision.
American already made that decision. That why President Obama was elected over John McCain. You're just mad that the decision was made that didn't agree with your choice. Besides, we already had a pretender in the white house and we democrats using the election process decided on another path. Now get over it already. 2012 you can vote for whoever you want. Until then, President Obama is the president of the United States, all the United States, like it or not.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | March 30, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

yourmomscalling -- Um, your mom must be calling because you must be about 14 years old. The "sheeple" in this equation are the MSM who will do anything for some flashy video, including putting 7,000 people in the Nevada desert at the top of every broadcast for 4 days, buying into their description of this "event" as their Woodstock. Right. 400,000 people in a weekend of peace and love sure looks like the Nevada affair. Stop it Jonathan. Stop it WaPo. You in the media have provided just the incentive for this fringe movement to get to the center of this season. Amazing -- these people get the megaphone while thoughtful Republicans like David Frum get the boot.

Posted by: Omyobama | March 30, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

well we don't care about him anymore I do know I will vote his lying butt out !!!!

Posted by: yourmomscalling | March 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

And I am very glad to see that you know why I am angry when you say I don't even know myself why I am angry. MR WIZARD

DO YOU KNOW WHY I AM ANGRY WITH THIS GOVERNMENT ?? or are you just as IGNORANT as the words you write !!

Posted by: yourmomscalling | March 30, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party protesters I happened to meet a couple of weeks ago were mostly senior citizens. On Social Security and Medicare, mind you, ranting about GOVERNMENT interference in their lives. I don't get it! Personally, I think they just wanted to get in on the free bus trip.

Then there's Michael Vanderboegh -- another ranter, telling the teaparty folks to "break windows, break them now!" And, he's on government disability...sheeesh!

Posted by: joy2 | March 30, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

What President Obama CANNOT say is more telling: The main motivation for the tea party movement is that they are angry about a black man being elected President of the United States. Fortunately, many opinion writers who were reticent to address the role of racism in the tea party movement have become less so after the attacks on black Congressmen during the tea partiers' last protest against health care insurance reform. They are saying it for him.

Posted by: query0 | March 31, 2010 4:43 AM | Report abuse

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