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Posted at 10:46 PM ET, 02/21/2011

The Tea Party and me

By E.J. Dionne

My colleague Jennifer Rubin took a nice poke at me Monday on her Right Turn blog. She wrote that, "after months of scorning, dismissing and vilifying the Tea Partyers," I had made a concession when I wrote in my Monday column: "No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country's dialogue."

Now, I don't know if the words "scorning" and "dismissing" are accurate to those earlier columns (whose contents I stand by), but I know the word "vilifying" is definitely wrong. If you look at the column to which that word is linked, it's about the NAACP calling out racist elements within the Tea Party, which I still think was the right thing to do. In that column, I offered examples of what the NAACP was talking about. But I also wrote this:

The minute you say there are racist elements in the Tea Party -- reflected in signs at rallies, billboards and speeches from some of its major figures -- the pushback goes from cries of persecution to charges that those who are criticizing divisiveness are themselves the dividers.

So let's dispense with the obvious: Most of the opposition to President Obama comes from people who are against his policies, not his race. The Tea Party is motivated primarily by right-wing ideology, not by racism.

That is not vilification.

The broad point of the two other columns was that the Tea Party represented a minority view in our country. That was true when I wrote it, and it's true now. That makes the Tea Party's achievement that I described in Monday's column all the more impressive -- but, I would argue, also all the more troublesome. I do not believe all the cuts the Tea Partyers are pushing are popular or reflect why the Republicans won in 2010. Did voters really want to cut Head Start, Pell grants, teen pregnancy prevention, clean-water programs, and K-12 education funding? I don't think so. And the beautiful thing about democracy is that we will fight that out between now and 2012, and the voters will render a decision. I think these cuts will hurt the Tea Party, even as they seem finally to be waking up progressives, many of whom were somnolent in 2010.

The bottom line is that I don't think I was "conceding" anything in my column today. I was acknowledging a reality about this political moment that I think is important and that liberals especially should pay attention to, even if we don't like it. Political writers who don't face reality should -- well, I was going to say "hang up their word processors," but that's a terrible metaphor. You get what I mean.

And thanks, Jennifer, for calling attention to all those old Tea Party columns.

By E.J. Dionne  | February 21, 2011; 10:46 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Too late to make up EJ. You can't join the tea party now.

Posted by: jy151310 | February 21, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Mr Dionne; all,

to Mr Dionne: i KNOW that you would like for your leftist/elitist opinion of the TEA PARTY to be correct (or even somewhat correct), but face it, not only are you 99% wrong about our millions of members
(fyi, by 2012 at our current rate of growth, we will be LARGER than the GOP & Democrats COMBINED & our members are motivated/angry/will demand/get a REAL "change, change, change", when we kick BHO & his coven of crooked union bosses/bigots/fools/nitwits & some just plain common criminals out of DC onto their pointy little/empty heads.)
also the TRUTH is that most of your readers no longer believe the "DIMocRAT leaders" KNOWING/hate-FILLED LIES about us.

just a FEW things that you & the leftist "elites" are WRONG about:
1. we are NOT stupid, ignorant, uneducated and/or racists.
(frankly, i know of NO Tea Partiers, who care what color/creed/race our current POTUS is. otoh, we DO care greatly that he & his henchmen are KNOWING, arrogant, shameless LIARS & are spending our nation into the ground to benefit "the few" over the many.)
2. we are FAR from being a mass movement of only conservatives. = a LOT of our members are libertarians, moderates, former Democrats & trade unionists.
3. we are actively recruiting disillusioned Democrats to our movement by simply pointing out that BHO/the "DIMocRATS leadership" CARE NOTHING at all for the "common citizens" & desire only more money/power for the ELITES.
(we "commoners"/"workers" are NOT stupid, as we KNOW that "the DIMocRAT leaders" ridicule "regular folks like us " & would NOT spit on us, if we caught fire as they care only about themselves/their chums.)
4. we are going to win BOTH houses of Congress & the WH in 2012, by a massive landslide that will make 2010 look mild.= it won't even be close.
(say GOODBYE to the influence of "DIMocRAT leaders" like Pelosi, Schumer, Reid, Frank & a HOST of other nitwits/haters/bigots/idiots/crooks!)

to ALL: IF you are as disillusioned & ANGRY as our members are by the MESS that BHO/the leftists/statists have made of our nation over the last 2+ years, JOIN THE TEA PARTY in your city/county/parish & help us take our country back to being the FREE & GOOD representative REPUBLIC that the founders intended it to be/remain. - you will be WARMLY welcomed!

just my opinion. = i DO NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY membership, absent a vote on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 22, 2011 3:48 AM | Report abuse

While I won't quibble with Mr Dionne's characterization of his POV re: the Tea Party, I do agree with Ms. Rubin's position. Mr Dionne might not have vilified the Tea Party in his opinion, but the perception is that he has and continues to do so. This is important to note because as a WP columnist, his POV is widely disseminated. By arguing what he himself believes and how his words are interpreted is disingenuous at worst, naive at least. Aren't Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck et al frequently claiming their words were being taken out of context as well? I am NOT suggesting a comparison to these two, but for those who read my post and were immediately agitated by that reference, your irritation servevs to prove my point. Supporting the NAACP's attack on the racists within the party suggests that the racist element is a significant portion of the membership. Also, calling the party a minority party also diminishes both its influence and status. Technically, all political parties are minority parties, including the Democratic party - again, specifically pointing this out only serves to marginalize it.

Posted by: bg392 | February 22, 2011 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I did enjoy EJ's last two columns on the Tea Party and I like the change.

I remember early in the 2008 election cycle when a Hilary supporter wrote off Obama as being inexperienced,I noted that something he did appealed to a group of voters. You can try to understand it or dismiss it. But if you dismiss it you do so at a risk. Maybe Hilary herself did the same and adjusted her campaign a bit too late.

I am no fan of Obama, the Tea Party, or Sarah Palin but each attracts a following. There is something they say or do that resonates with people. You can says its due to stupidity, being uninformed, or just plain crazy, but it is more likely do to a genuine concern or issue. One should try to understand that issue.

EJ may have turned a corner.

Posted by: flyover22 | February 22, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if Jennifer Rubin's easy use of mid-representation--of a fellow Post writer, no less--is an early sign of the Washington Post embracing the hyperbole, falsification of facts and distortions of public utterances by Progressives and our President that characterize the Republican Party, the Tea Partiers, and the entire right-wing movement that is trying to take over our government and our lives by means of lies and deceit. Who is Jennifer Rubin, anyway?

Posted by: douglasblee | February 22, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country's dialogue." >>,Democrats wake up!

Posted by: Democrate | February 22, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The Tea Partiers are forever joined at the hip with the anti-Obama racists, birthers, and "gold-standard" nutcases. The will be rejected by the vast maqjority of Americans this fall. Their exstream and hateful positions on most issues are so far out of the mainstream they will take the entire Republican party with them to defeat this fall.

Once the voters see that the people the sent to Washinton to create jobs - remember "Jobs Jobs Jobs" - have spen the last two years going after Unions, abortion, environmental protection and the poor.

Talk about Bait-N-Switch!

They will just be another speed bump on the way to creating the kind of country we need to be.

Allowing a bunch of racist morons to act as the "deciders" for the people never works out well.

Posted by: gooch733 | February 22, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Democrate | February 22, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Democrate | February 22, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

You're awesome, E.J.

Jennifer's just a little over caffeinated. At least WaPo didn't hire Michelle Malkin.

Posted by: danw1 | February 22, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

gooch733; all,

to "gooch733": did you bother to actually READ my post above your
if you did read it, did you UNDERSTAND what i wrote?

as a "person of color" (like BHO, i'm bi-racial. further, i USED TO BE a sustaining member of the NAACP, until we moderates & conservatives "were read out of" the organization.), i would NEVER be associated with (much less be the nearest thing to an "officer" that our group has - we TEA PARTY folks are NOT "big on authority" & have NO "officers", per se. = we do everything by consensus.) a "racist organization".
(the National Association of LIBERAL Colored People, aka: NAACP & NAALCP, despises us solely because we do NOT support their LEFTIST/SOCIALIST agenda. = it has nothing whatever to do with "race"/ethnicity. instead, it is simply that the NAALCP doesn't like our "politics", as we TEA PARTYERS are almost all moderate to conservative in outlook.)

furthermore, our movement (despite the KNOWING, INTENTIONAL LIES told about us by the "DIMocRAT extremists"/elitists/leftists/"progressives") has NO known racists; otoh, we DO have persons of every skin-tone/race/ethnic group/religion/financial status/age group/occupation/political philosophy (except "lunatic hate-FILLED leftists", of course. = leftists would be "uncomfortable" at our meetings.)

to ALL: IF you are angry & disgusted with the MESS that BHO & the "DIMocRAT extremist leaders" have made of our country, join the TEA PARTY in your city/county/parish & help us return our government to the representative REPUBLIC, that the Founders intended it to be/remain.

just my comments/opinion.= i DO NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote by the membership on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 22, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

You're right, E.J.! They are the lunatic fringe. If they weren't so useful as a distraction, they wouldn't be getting the press and exposure that RepubliCorp gives them.

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all republicans have to offer America.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 22, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

DJ might not want to say it but I will, T baggers are racist nutjobs. They want to cut spending but not spending for them, ie. don't touch T-bagger's medicare or medicade and by god they'd better get a COL bump to their social security, but feel free to cut spending for the "other" guys....The T-baggers aren't a new party, they are the same old tired assed uber religous right wing nut-jobs that have always been the base of the gop. What we have now is a fight between the neo-cons and the religous flakes in rethuglican land, and may God, Buddah, Allah, the GFSM or somebody help the rest of us....

Posted by: gr8fullted | February 22, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

gr8fullted; all,

to "gr8fullted": are you REALLY ignorant enough to believe the DUMB-bunny/PREJUDICED/hate-FILLED bilge that you posted
do you hope that other readers here are just THAT stupid/naive?

THE TRUTH is what i posted to Mr Dionne & to "gooch733", whether you wish it was FACT or not. = THE TRUTH is THE TRUTH (it is NOT bigotry/arrogant stupidity/wishful thinking or anything else but THE TRUTH.) & what you posted is nothing more or less than a STUPID LIE, which tells everyone that you are either:
1. "mentally challenged" & therefore to be PITIED,
2. completely deceived by the "idiot-fringe leftists",
3. blinded by your unthinking prejudices,
4. trying to deceive others here
5."a troll" planted by the GOP to make the DIMocRATS/leftists/"progressives" LOOK stupid/BAD.

to ALL: my guess (and a guess is all that it is.) is that "gr8fullted" is a TROLL, who is here SOLELY to "cause discord". - my suggestion is to neither heed nor feed the trolls on "PP".

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 22, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

But what does Gabby Giffords think? Your buddy Chuck Lane thinks he knows.

Posted by: DougJ3 | February 22, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

To TN46 coordinator, CCTPP

You spout off about facts yet you have none, you call me a troll to which I ask do the letters F.O. mean anything to you? Drop dead you tea bagging pile of monkey nuts.

Posted by: gr8fullted | February 23, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

gr8fullted; ALL,

don't you get tired of being laughed AT & thought a BIGOT/FOOL, who is (at best) SEMI-literate?
(could it be that 3rd grade was your best five years?)

instead of being a TROLL (or perhaps in addition to being a TROLL) you are also a PREJUDICED, clue-LESS, idiot in search of a village.

laughing AT you, CHUMP, as you "know NOT & know NOT, that you know NOT". = you're a LOSER & i have NO time whatever for LOSERS.

to ALL: as i said earlier, my advice is to NEITHER feed NOR heed the troll/CHUMP.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | February 24, 2011 2:33 AM | Report abuse

gr8fullted, TN46,everyone:

To "the troll": FYI, my compatriot-in-arms, TN46, is about 100 times smarter than you seem to be from your silly/fact-less posts.
Furthermore, on your best day you couldn't match wits with him on any subject that i can think of.
(FYI, my wife & I have spent numerous visits in the home of "TN" & his very gracious lady. Thus i know him far better than anyone else on "Partisan".)

Anyone who uses obscenities (or abbreviations therefor), as you did to him, in your post above & in a public forum like this one, are:
Morally unfit to associate with decent people
Are publically exhibiting their stupidity, lack of education, "room temperature IQ" & prejudices as well. - you might want to think on that.

To everyone: I would bet that the troll/moron/bigot, who styles himself/herself as "gr8fullted" is about 16 years old, knows nothing about The Tea Party Movement and is ignorant/stupid enough to believe the premeditated lies told to "the sheeple" by "the lame-stream media".

Sincerely Yours, RetiredMP46

Posted by: retiredMP46 | February 24, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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