Rand Paul, pure Tea Partyer. Mitch McConnell, not so much
Rand Paul is an unapologetic Tea Party conservative. Not from the "birther" or the 10th Amendment extreme wing -- although the winner of the Kentucky Republican primary for Senate has more than a few extreme views, particularly on the Civil Rights Act. But he's a Tea Partyer in the original sense. One who is concerned about the expansive ways of Washington and the special interests whose choke hold ensures that nothing changes. These are legitimate concerns that those dismissive of the Tea Party are wrong to belittle, ignore or misinterpret.
But some folks (okay, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) are now trying to cling to the movement -- in desperate bid to obscure their complicity and save their own hides. And they're not getting it right.
“I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words,” Paul said at his victory rally. “We have come to take our government back.”
Notice he says take "government" back not his "country" back. (The latter construct is favored by people who like to depict President Obama as the Joker or Hitler or an African tribesman with a bone through his nose.)
And who does Paul want to take the government back from?
We've come to take our government back from the special interests who think the federal government is their own personal ATM. From the politicians who bring us oversized, fake checks, emblazoned with their signature as if it was their money to give. Washington is horribly broken. I think we stand on a precipice. we are encountering a day of reckoning. And this movement, this Tea Party movement, is a message to Washington that we're unhappy and that we want things done differently....I think America's greatness hinges on us doing something to save the country. The Tea Party movement is about saving the country from a mountain of debt that is devouring our country and I think could lead to chaos.
What separates Paul from the people who have more recently come to define the Tea Party movement is that the focus of his ire is not solely on Obama. It's on all of Washington, especially Congress. He recognizes that the problems bewitching the country have Democratic and Republican enablers.
That's why I had to chuckle as I read Dana Milbank's piece this morning on McConnell. Paul walloped McConnell's choice for the nomination by 24 points. So what did McConnell do yesterday? He donned an ill-fitting Tea Party cloak, took to the Senate floor, slammed the president and White House for "arrogance," and declared that the administration "has lost all perspective about the limits of government."
Obama has been president for 16 months. McConnell has been roaming the halls of the Capitol for 25 years, seven of them in the party leadership and five of those years with a Republican in the White House. That McConnell is trying to obscure the fact that he's part of the problem Paul railed against is hilarious.
| May 20, 2010; 7:19 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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