Of tea, democracy and litmus tests

Dear Tea Party,

Over the course of the last month people all over the world have come out to protest the economic injustice that is our current reality. It reminds me of another group of people who felt disenfranchised and disappointed with the way our government operates and they did similar things.

So, I have to ask – why all the hate? Look, I will admit that I am very much in favor of the #occupyny protests and it is inspiring that these have spouted up in cities across the globe. It truly warms my heart and I will go to at least one protest (Something I rarely do. The last real protest I attended was in front of the Supreme Court in 2000). I also admit that I do not support The Tea Party. I think refusing to compromise and work with colleagues on the other side of the aisle is one of the biggest problems our Congress faces. We simply cannot threaten to shut th government down every few months. (It also costs a lot more because agencies cannot truly function well when they get funded this way.)

Having admitting all of that, your protests warmed my heart as much as these do. I love to see people get involved and make their voice heard by their government. The First Amendment is one of my favorite parts of the Constitution. It doesn’t only apply to people who agree with me. I may not like what you are saying but you have every right to.

The idea that we all have litmus tests for who we think has a right to protest and who does not is really troubling to me. When you start down the road that someone can arbitrarily decide who gets to speak and who cannot, well, that’s the day we lose one of the things that makes this such a great country.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Tea Party

I have changed my mind about the Tea Party.

Their constant references to my favorite period of history (Note to Governor Palin: amazing things happened during that period that need no embellishment, Paul Revere’s ride was pretty awesome without guns and a farce about “warning the British” and Congresswoman Bachmann: read some history before telling New Hampshire how the ‘shot heard ’round the world’ happened there) still piss me off. Because they get the facts wrong — seriously, how many times can I quote Senator Moynihan before it sickens even me? (“You have the right to your own opinion but not your own facts.”)

And true, your extreme and contradictory views of reality, history and ideology trouble me still. I don’t think you can “pray away the gay” (how ironic is is that Dr. Bachmann, well, you know…), nor do I think the 2008 election heralded the beginning of the ‘end of days’ and I don’t think just because someone disagrees with me they are anti-American.

And yet, I am impressed. You have made me feel badly for Speaker Boehner. Wow. You are the Christine O’Donnell of political “parties.” Ps. Even she is not a fan of Michele Bachmann. She once said, and I quote, “We should chance the phrase ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ to ‘fact checking Michele Bachmann.” Me-Ow!

With the 2012 elections around the corner, I am glad they are around. They are making life really hard for the other Republicans in the House. A big block of them have said they won’t support the Speaker’s debt ceiling increase plan. Seriously, how much does that sting? You are the Speaker of the House, you go on national TV and give a speech about how great your plan is and then found your own caucus won’t support it. And he’s between a rock and a hard place. He needs Democrats to pass a plan but any compromise he reaches with them will cost him the Speakership. So, from a purely political, campaign perspective, I love the Tea Party.

The problem is that we are facing a possible financial catastrophe. Lawrence O’Donnell was right — the “Tea Party” freshmen don’t understand this is bigger than their campaigns. It’s bigger than this Congress. It’s bigger than the Obama Presidency.

Oh, one other jab at the GOP and the Speaker — does anyone else see an irony in their recent statements? They claim this should be about “Americans keeping their jobs, not politicians.” They simultaneously claim they cannot compromise because they will be breaking their campaign promises and we can all see why the Speaker is not compromising — and in other circumstances, I think he would but being Speaker of the House is a good gig. Irony!

Maybe this is the real apocalypse that preacher was talking about a few months back…

It’s all about expectations

Our national pastime is not baseball, though I wish it was. Our national pastime is building people up to bring them back down. As Jon Stewart said on his iconic Crossfire appearance, “I don’t know much about democracy, I have only lived in this country” I don’t know if this is something other cultures do. We love it.

Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan. Barack Obama. Even DC Mayor Adrian Fenty.

1. Mayor Fenty – possibly a victim of his own success, was a phenom. The youngest mayor in DC history, he was the post-racial symbol of how far the city had come. From several decades ago when there was no ‘home rule’ to Marion Barry, this has been a wild ride. And Marion Barry had a tagline before ‘the bitch set me up.’ Before he said that, he was popular for creating jobs. His later mantra was one of redemption; a message too many people here can relate to. And then we got Anthony Williams. Maybe Adrian Fenty is as much a victim of Anthony Williams’ competence as his own. It should be noted that Mr. Williams was not perfect either – he had to be write in candidate when his campaign workers could not procure enough legal signatures – but he was a good mayor. “At least he’s not a crack head,” was no longer good enough. And then we all met Adrian Fenty. Sporting three blackberries he seemed really interested in a dialogue with the city. I was moving when he approached me. I was impressed and went out of my way to vote for him. My expectations were too high. He was a good mayor and yet I voted for Vincent Grey because, as I told WJLA, Mayor Fenty was not the person I expected him to be. Despite the fact that the schools got better, crime went down and the city has a great new bike program. I just didn’t like him. Sorry.

2. President Barack Obama faces a similar dilemma. He promised ‘change you can believe in’ and people expected monumental things. He has actually delivered. Remember, when he entered the White House he had a series of what I like to call ‘Himalayan problems’ – each one is gigantic alone but seen with the others, they appear smaller. The worst economy since the Depression. Two wars. Global warming. The Gulf spill. And he got heath care reform passed. He got financial reform passed. He may have saved the economy with stimulus that was a third tax cuts, not that anyone knows that. He may be able to blame Bill Clinton for his problems. I always said Bill Clinton may have been Al Gore’s biggest problem; and not for the reasons you are thinking. Bill Clinton is brilliant. Absolutely, amazingly brilliant. The problem he is also ‘Bubba’ — the guy who feels your pain and you want to have a beer with. Do not, even for a millisecond, this that is criticism, I would jump in front of a bullet for Bill Clinton. The problem is that many voters in 2000 saw Al Gore and George W. Bush as Bill Clinton split in two; you had the nerd who knew everything and the normal guy you wanted to hang with. We all know how that movie ended. And so as our nation faces this great dilemma, one of the worst crises since our inception, we don’t want a professor – though we need one – we want a guy who gets us. We expected an inspirational figure and we got an intellectual.

3. George W. Bush may have been the best thing to happen for people on the right. I made fun of him as much as anyone, it was easy. At the end of the day, George W. Bush is not the idiot the left made him out to be. Did you know he got better grades at Yale than Senator Kerry? Look it up. He is so smart because he maybe the political equivalent of Keyser Soze, whose greatest gift (or it was the devil) was ‘convincing the world he didn’t exist.’ He made us all believe that if he showed up somewhere and didn’t drool on himself, he had done good that day. And what has that legacy been? Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and Rand Paul. Oh, and Sharon Angle. There are others but it makes me to depressed to think about it. The left dismisses these candidates at our peril.

And so it’s all about building people up to tear them down. I both love that and hate it. Being human, and one of the snarkiest people I know, I kind of like it when some arrogant person gets what they deserve. Being someone who supports competency in government, it bothers me because President Obama has done some amazing things and gotten no real credit while George W. Bush sent us to a war we didn’t need and destroyed the economy but rather than going grey with worry like Obama, he gets to play golf all day. It’s not fair.

Of course, neither is life and that’s why I don’t regret my vote for Vincent Grey. Hope my expectations for him are low enough for me not to be disappointed.