Tea Party Draws Wide Range of Protesters

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 7:06 pm
Protester attends a Tax Day Tea Party event in Washington. (Photo by: Aaron Wiener)

Protesters attends a Tax Day Tea Party event in Washington. (Photo by: Aaron Wiener)

The Washington Tax Day Tea Party started off with a few short bursts of confusion. Before the rally began, an 11th hour brainstorm by organizers to dump one million tea bags in front of the White House, in full view of an embedded Fox News reporter, was canceled due to the lack of a permit. Organizers had planned to host two rallies, one in Lafayette Park outside of the White House, and one outside of the Treasury Department. That was scuttled, too, by a last minute permit smack-down from the Secret Service, which had second thoughts about the location. Speakers gathered on a small stage with a weak sound system, unable to throw their voices more than a few yards into the crowd.

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

It didn’t really matter to the crowd of several hundred people–peaking at over 1,000 in the afternoon–who showed up to compare signs, hear from libertarian and conservative speakers, and, in the words of one attendee from Virginia, “feel like we’re not alone.”

“I go back and forth between thinking: Is Obama in over his head? Or is he on the this path to socialism intentionally?” said Martha, a Virginia businesswoman who, like several other attendees, declined to give her full name. “People fear being called a racist, and they fear his popularity, so no one wants to stand up to him.” Martha held a homemade sign that called for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign and be replaced by Fox Business host Dave Ramsey.

The Tea Parties staged today in hundreds of cities, egged on by conservative groups and think tanks but populated by flesh-and-blood, fed-up opponents of President Obama, were less direct than the 1773 political revolt that inspired them. Organizers and many attendees used the Washington event to decry deficit spending and a lurch toward socialism, but worked in attacks on the media, illegal immigration, foreign policy, and the sense that Obama’s government was trying to take away their liberties. When the rally was abruptly ended at 2 p.m. by park police — after tea bags had been thrown over the White House fence — the remnants of the crowd pointed to government oppression and lost rights.

Yesterday’s news that the Department of Homeland Security had warned local police departments about a rise in far-right extremism spread like chain mail among everyone involved with the Tea Parties. It was the reason many people cited for keeping their names out of reporters’ notebooks. It also manifested in the jokes of multiple speakers, who mocked the idea that this event was a meet-up of “right-wing extremists,” and in signs that read “Napolitano: Obama’s Gestapo Queen” and “Fight Federal Fascism” and “Kulacs tomorrow? Then what? Gulags. History repeats.”

“Now anybody who doesn’t believe in Obama’s policies is a terrorist,” said Bob Hughes, who said the DHS report was his motivation for coming to the protest. “This is just like what the Nazis did. Stormtroopers. Secret police. It’s been done before and it looks like we’re going in that direction again.”

The protest, which despite steady, driving rain, was more than twice as large as a Feb. 27 protest at the same site, was a demonstration of how embattled opponents of Obama feel as his agenda moves through Congress. Parents gave their children signs that decried the way the president had taken away their future earnings (and in one case “my trip to Disney World”) with deficit spending. Activists who said they’d voted for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) or a third party candidate for president –one man said he’d written in “Joe the Plumber” — waved Gadsden flags and talked up Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-Texas) declaration that Texas was re-asserting its Tenth Amendment rights.

The protesters, some of whom decried the way the media had portrayed today’s Tea Parties as corporate-run rallies, also revealed how rapidly negative stories about the president and Democrats travel through the fast-growing conservative media infrastructure. Stories that had broken in the seven weeks since the last protest were turned into fodder for signs–pictures of President Obama’s greeting of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah appeared next to the words “Don’t bow to kings, bow to US.” The accusation that the president can’t speak without a TelePrompTer appeared again and again: “Don’t talk to me (I forgot my teleprompter)” and “Obama’s teleprompter needs a rest, but still sends a thrill up Chris [Matthews]‘s leg.” One parent could be overheard explaining to her son what those signs were referring to: “A teleprompter is something they put on the stage that you can’t see, that makes it look like the president is talking instead of reading a speech.”

There was a flavor of the anti-Iraq War rallies that had previously filled Lafayette Park — despite the “anti-tax” message of the event, and the “Taxed Enough Already” signs some protesters had pulled off the Web, nearly every other conservative or libertarian cause was represented. Beltway conservative think tanks, which have staged tax day events for years, arrived on the scene to promote their own projects. Young Americans for Freedom passed out “I Love Capitalism” signs for people whose hands were empty. The Heritage Foundation passed around promotions for its anti-government spending projects. The Libertarian Party asked attendees to come to a 2 p.m. speech by 2008 party presidential candidate Bob Barr, and interns from the Libertarian Cato Institute arrived holding Cato umbrellas and philosophically-inclined signs with quotes from scholars like the late economist Murray Rothbard.

The support from the established conservative movement led to some surreal moments. “This is the beginning,” said one speaker, “of this grassroots movement to take back this country from the elites!” The crowd erupted in cheers and chants of “USA!” before he continued: “Join us! Join Americans for Prosperity! Join the Institute for Liberty! Join RealClearPolitics!”

Some of the protesters, who bristled at the idea that they were not real grassroots activists, had problems with the establishment support. “The term ‘AstroTurf’ comes to mind,” said Scott Cragg, a technology consultant who’d moved to the area recently. “I do appreciate seeing so much support from people. But I think of Godwin’s Law — as soon as you mention Hitler, you lose the argument — and I think there’s a little demagoguery going on at Fox.”

That wasn’t a popular opinion. Many protesters were united in a deep loathing of most press outlets and an appreciation, just as deep, for Fox News. One man who declined to give his name bragged that he’d interrupted an ABC News reporter who was trying to record an introduction to his report that pointed out most Americans didn’t agree with the Tea Party protesters. “It’s hard to lie, isn’t it? But it isn’t hard for them because they do it all the time.”

At the same time, Fox News and CNBC personalities were welcomed as rock stars. Stephen Moore, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page writer who appears on the business channel to argue for spending cuts and simpler taxes, was surrounded by well-wishers and fans asking for photos. Laura Ingraham, who hosts a conservative radio talk show and guest-hosts on “The O’Reilly Factor,” was mobbed by fans when she appeared for an interview with Griff Jenkins of Fox News. After they were done talking, Jenkins and Ingraham were thanked by fans–Ingraham struggled to get out of the event through requests for photos and cries of “I love you, Laura!”

“It’s going to be a fight,” said Kevin Rooney, a Maryland man carrying a sign that read “Stand Idle While Some Kenyan Destroys America? WAP! I Don’t Think So! Homey Don’t Play Dat!” Rooney shook off the ashes on a Dominican cigar and promised that the people standing in Lafayette Park were going to oust the members of Congress who were enabling President Obama’s agenda. “These people that you see standing in the rain here are gonna save this goddamn country.”

Photo galleries of the Tea Party protest are available here and here.

Follow David Weigel on Twitter


Comments

27 Comments

america
Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

move.on acorn.this is bigger than you.


Don
Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

Ahhh, once again the Republican party proves to be the party of stupidity. The funny thing is that these people are excited to be on television and they don't even realize that the rest of the country is laughing at them!


Tea Party Draws Wide Range of Protesters
Pingback posted April 15, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptProtester attends a Tax Day Tea Party event in Washington. (Photo by: Aaron Wiener) The Washington Tax Day Tea Party started off with a few short bursts of confusion. Before the rally began, an 11th hour brainstorm by organizers to dump one million tea bags in front of the White House, in full view of an embedded Fox News reporter, was canceled due to the lack of a permit . Organizers had planned to host two rallies, one in Lafayette Park outside of the White House, and one outside of the T [...]


Angel
Comment posted April 15, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

As a non-Republican, I really honestly belived this country couldn't get in any worse shape than it was in after GW finished with us. But alas! we did. I was saddened by the choices the presidential race came down to “Bad, badder & WORSE”. I knew Hillary was scary, McCain was a republican enuff said…so I decided to check out Obama and what he was talkin' about and at 1st like many thought he might be okay, but I wasn't ready to vote for him until I knew who this person was that came out of nowhere.
I knew after finding out who he was that we were in big trouble, I decided to go with Hillary the lesser of “three” evils, but frankly Obama scared the hell outta me. As a person who swore I'd NEVER vote Republican I was forced to eat my words. “Never say never” ehh?.

I'm sorry but I do not wish to be a part of a Socialist country nor a Communist country and that is just where we are headed with Obama. It's not about race or religion, it's about our freedoms being sold and given away without us being given a choice in the matter.

“We the People” are fast becoming “We the Sheeple”


Leaning Straight Up » Massive Tea Party Link Round Up
Pingback posted April 16, 2009 @ 4:36 am

[...] David Weigel / The Washington Independent: Tea Party Draws Wide Range of Protesters [...]


dan
Comment posted April 16, 2009 @ 6:50 am

“People fear being called a racist …” No, racists fear being called out on their racism. I'm not racist, so I never have that fear. It's like the ocean. You may fear it when your in it, but when your not, no problem.


ColinLaney
Comment posted April 16, 2009 @ 8:58 am

The Tuscaloosa, AL Tea party featured a speaker from the secessionist, neo-confederate League of the South. A speaker at the Austen, TX event advocated secession. This happen anywhere else?


drocity
Comment posted April 16, 2009 @ 11:08 am

Uh, Don. WTF are you talking about? Did you read the article? Do you know what the people at these events are about? What they are protesting? The “Republicans” you so happily demonize were merely hangers-on and johnny-come-lately's to these events. There is a large number of people in this country who are not served by ANY party at the moment. Take your head out of your rear for a minute and practice some of that vaunted listening that the left is always advocating for.


Vera
Comment posted April 16, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

Ahh Don, I wouldn't characterize either party as the party of genious. Both parties have been spending us into oblivion. The Republican Party as of today cannot figure its ass from its elbows, while the Democrats are drunk with their own power. By the way, I cannot understand how some media outlets can assert that this movement is merely an artificial corporate movement. For crying out loud, Move-On.org is nothing but an arm of the Soros Foundation and was hardly is mentioned by the MSM. You know the Soros Foundation run by the guy who unlike the rest of us had a very good year in 2008. It sure is funny how the Astroturf has been growing on one side of the fence but hardly anyone in the media takes notice.


Lisa Krempasky
Comment posted April 16, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

I was proudly 1 of 7000 in St. Louis. In February we had 1000. By 4th of July we hope to have 20,000. We are not sitting on the sidelines any longer. Are “leaders” need to lead, follow or get out of the way because we will not stand for their compromise and acting in their own self-interest any longer.


j durbin
Comment posted April 18, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

/why dont the “rich democrates” pay their sahre of the tax increase” There are LOADS of rich democrats who do everything they can to avoic taxed. Also, why not have a demonstration on the communist celebration day (May 1–also my birthday) to collect taxes from the illegals? So what if they don't have representation-they are border jumpers.
A final thought. If we are so bad, why do people risk life and limb and family to get INTO the U.S.? Remember, the Berlin Walls was to keep people IN (prisoner) NOT keep them out.


Wary
Comment posted April 19, 2009 @ 9:07 am

President Obama and the Democrats are doing a great job of cleaning up the mess that the Bush administration and GOP left the country in.

These Republican media driven shams of so called 'protests' of taxes are ludicrous.

So far, all those pathetic constant bombardment of GOP idiot attacks on the President are working against the GOP–these media driven GOP fake political events will also.

The President remains extremely highly regarded, and nothing thee conservatives have done have been able to bring him down, matter of fact, his support has gone up! So, thanks angry, grumpy old pachyderms–keep it up!!!


Photomaniacal » Blog Archive » Terry Mancour: The tea party protests failed to fire up Republicans
Pingback posted April 20, 2009 @ 8:31 am

[...] more recent tea parties this week were, by most accounts, what the kids call an “epic fail” compared to the [...]


r
Comment posted April 20, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

your the idiot.republicans want your tax to be 10%,or the fair tax which is NO FEDERAL TAXES,and 23% purchases.your chasing dem fools gold.you are buying congress new cars,they are ripping us off.how cuold you be so mean to fellow americans at tea parties.go and protest a criminal out of jail,or whatever you uninformed liberal whack jobs do.


r
Comment posted April 20, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

only a idiot would make fun of peopla protesting for freedom,less taxes,and no bailouts.please go live in france or germany if you want socialism.thier is money here for me and you to make,if the government will GET OUT OF MY WAY.


Nise Brown
Comment posted April 28, 2009 @ 7:23 am

So said the robber barons of 1900…who made their millions on the broken bodies of miners buried in coal mines (no safety regulations), on the broken families (dad got hurt building the railroads and no $ to feed his kids) and the black lung patients who died in their 40's.

GREED…it's the all-powerful god that we all serve. But 300+ million Americans live in this country…not just you. And taking care of all of them is what government is looking out for.

And this is NOT a socialist country (definition: “a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state” –Merriam Webster Dictionary)


Nise Brown
Comment posted April 28, 2009 @ 7:30 am

Those “tea parties” were orchestrated by right-wing Republican party members. They were advertised as “average Americans protesting” but the leaders are anything but. The disgruntled Republican party is funding them and pushing press coverage.

Just like the McCain party tried to portray “Joe the Plumber” as an average business owner and
average American. It's all political rhetoric.

Republicans want NO social services, NO medicare/medicaid, NO social security, NO taxes, NO governmental controls on business and a country ruled by rich WHITE people.

Sorry…but the southern plantation owners are a thing of the past…


Nise Brown
Comment posted April 28, 2009 @ 7:34 am

“freedoms being sold”???? The Patriot Act (enacted under the Bush administration) allows Americans to be arrested and held indefinitely if the government “suspects” he/she might be a terrorist. No attorney…no bail. hmmmm…maybe we should blame the '”chief decider” for that one.


PALMA
Comment posted May 24, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

I AM A TEA PARTY MEMBER……WE ARE NEVER GOING TO LET WASHINGTON THROW OUR ECONOMY AND MORALS AWAY. THE LIBERALS IN CONGRESS BETTER START GETTING THERE SUITCASES PACKED TO LEAVE…WE WILL SEE THE NEXT ELECTION WILL BE FOR THE GIVE ME LIBERTY NOT DEBT….NOT DEATH-ABORTION-EUTHANASIA

PT


PALMA
Comment posted May 24, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

WELL I AM SURE THAT YOU ALL HAVE A SAY.. BUSH SPENT ON DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE …DID CLINTON TAKE CARE OF US NO NO NO HE WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE HAVING HIS SEXUAL GRATIFICATIONS. WHERE WAS HE WHEN THEY CAME TO HIM WHILE ON THE GOLF COURSE WE HAVE BIN LADEN…WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD 911……. RIGHT……..
HE SAID DO NOT BOTHER ME WITH THAT BIN LADEN GUY AFTER HE DID THE SUDAN-INDONESIA-WORLD TRADE CENTER-COLE BOMBINGS….THEN 911 -6 MONTHS AFTER BUSH IS IN OFFICE. WHY WHY DID CLINTON SCREW US AND STILL IS……WHERE WHERE. I AM SO SICK OF YOU ALL WAKE UP. CLINTON AND RHAM EMANUEL WAS ON THE BOARD AND DAVID AXELROD WERE HIS ADVISORS. RHAN EMANUEL WORKED FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC AND MADE 380,00 OF OUR MONEY…. DID THE RIGHT TO VOTE ACT BROUGHT IN ALL ILLEGALS FOR VOTES. 8 OF 19 HAD DL FROM THIS. WHEN THEY DID 911. OBAMA WAS THE ONE WHO PUSHED ACORN BEHIND CLINTON TO PASS THIS RIGHT TO VOTE ACT. LOKK IT UP ALL OF YOU…THE COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT 1995..TO GIVE MINORITYS SUBPRIME MORTGAGES… … ACORN PUSHED FOR ALL OF THIS WHILE OBAMA WORKED FOR THEM AT THIS TIME ..GET IT GET IT… NOW THERE ALL IN OFFICE LEADING OUR COUNTRY RIGHT INTO A DISIASTER. YOU HAVE TO GIVE TO THE MINORITY HE TOLD JOE THE PLUMBER….STILL DOING HIS CRAP WAKE UP AMERICA WAKE UP. CHECK IT ALL OUT…NEXT TIME YOU VOTE IS FOR THEM TO ALL BE OUT AND HAVE A STRONGER GOVERNMENT NOT ONE THAT TOOK OUR MORALS AND ECONOMY AWAY FROM US AND BROUGHT IT ALL TO A DISASTER….I AM AN IDEPENDENT……I AM NOT FOR ONLY GOOD PATRIOTIC CHARACTER……..NO ABORTIONS- NO EUTHANASIA NO STEM CELL WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE TISSUE STEM CELL WHICH MAKE PERFECT EMBYONIC ONES. LOOK UP TISSUE STEM CELL RESEARCH….HAVE GREAT MORALS AMERICA WHERE HAVE ALL THE RESPECT FOR THE SOLDIRES WHO DIED AND YOUR ALL MAKING IT IN VEIN IN VEIN IN VEIN… LOOK IT UP…..

TP


PALMA
Comment posted May 24, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

I AM A TEA PARTY MEMBER……WE ARE NEVER GOING TO LET WASHINGTON THROW OUR ECONOMY AND MORALS AWAY. THE LIBERALS IN CONGRESS BETTER START GETTING THERE SUITCASES PACKED TO LEAVE…WE WILL SEE THE NEXT ELECTION WILL BE FOR THE GIVE ME LIBERTY NOT DEBT….NOT DEATH-ABORTION-EUTHANASIA

PT


PALMA
Comment posted May 24, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

WELL I AM SURE THAT YOU ALL HAVE A SAY.. BUSH SPENT ON DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE …DID CLINTON TAKE CARE OF US NO NO NO HE WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE HAVING HIS SEXUAL GRATIFICATIONS. WHERE WAS HE WHEN THEY CAME TO HIM WHILE ON THE GOLF COURSE WE HAVE BIN LADEN…WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD 911……. RIGHT……..
HE SAID DO NOT BOTHER ME WITH THAT BIN LADEN GUY AFTER HE DID THE SUDAN-INDONESIA-WORLD TRADE CENTER-COLE BOMBINGS….THEN 911 -6 MONTHS AFTER BUSH IS IN OFFICE. WHY WHY DID CLINTON SCREW US AND STILL IS……WHERE WHERE. I AM SO SICK OF YOU ALL WAKE UP. CLINTON AND RHAM EMANUEL WAS ON THE BOARD AND DAVID AXELROD WERE HIS ADVISORS. RHAN EMANUEL WORKED FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC AND MADE 380,00 OF OUR MONEY…. DID THE RIGHT TO VOTE ACT BROUGHT IN ALL ILLEGALS FOR VOTES. 8 OF 19 HAD DL FROM THIS. WHEN THEY DID 911. OBAMA WAS THE ONE WHO PUSHED ACORN BEHIND CLINTON TO PASS THIS RIGHT TO VOTE ACT. LOKK IT UP ALL OF YOU…THE COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT 1995..TO GIVE MINORITYS SUBPRIME MORTGAGES… … ACORN PUSHED FOR ALL OF THIS WHILE OBAMA WORKED FOR THEM AT THIS TIME ..GET IT GET IT… NOW THERE ALL IN OFFICE LEADING OUR COUNTRY RIGHT INTO A DISIASTER. YOU HAVE TO GIVE TO THE MINORITY HE TOLD JOE THE PLUMBER….STILL DOING HIS CRAP WAKE UP AMERICA WAKE UP. CHECK IT ALL OUT…NEXT TIME YOU VOTE IS FOR THEM TO ALL BE OUT AND HAVE A STRONGER GOVERNMENT NOT ONE THAT TOOK OUR MORALS AND ECONOMY AWAY FROM US AND BROUGHT IT ALL TO A DISASTER….I AM AN IDEPENDENT……I AM NOT FOR ONLY GOOD PATRIOTIC CHARACTER……..NO ABORTIONS- NO EUTHANASIA NO STEM CELL WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE TISSUE STEM CELL WHICH MAKE PERFECT EMBYONIC ONES. LOOK UP TISSUE STEM CELL RESEARCH….HAVE GREAT MORALS AMERICA WHERE HAVE ALL THE RESPECT FOR THE SOLDIRES WHO DIED AND YOUR ALL MAKING IT IN VEIN IN VEIN IN VEIN… LOOK IT UP…..

TP


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NOMOREEXCUSES
Comment posted September 14, 2009 @ 6:48 am

Hey Brown,

I am sure Dr. Kings dream did not include his people developing a culture around food stamps, government housing, and other governmental support, incepted and supported by Dems – to keep people in poverty. Do a little homework and see which party supported Civil Rights. The government promised the Native American Indians that they would be taken care of……and now the majority live in great poverty and have despicable health care.

O yes, your answer to all our social problems is government. Sorry you feel so badly about the Patriot Act……..do you know anyone who was held or still held without cause……..no you don't; because you are reading from the same old uber-lib game plan – yet unaware of those pesky little things called facts. Have their been anymore attacks on the soil of this country – no, so be greatful that previous laws that responded for the first attack on US soil – over 3000 innocent people murdered.

You seem to be caught up in Identity politics with your “WHITE” reference – exactly what the Dem's love to use to continue to divide the people of our nation. My anscestors came to this country in 1889 and had no relation to slavery. They did not speak the language, worked 2-3 jobs for $7 a week, and worked and worked, and finally had something. They did not get food stamps, government housing, or any assistance from anyone – but they made it because they had a dream too – to work and raise a family and have opportunities for their children. You see, it does not make a difference what color you are, your religion, sex; you can do anything you want if you have the guts to WORK for it. So go do a little homeowrk and educate yourself so that you can form ideas and thoughts for yourself instead of reading and regurgitating the same old dribble you have had embedded in your brain – you know a mind is a terrible thing to waste!!

It is so odd that a black president is so intent on making slaves out of all Americans – more specifically, slaves to debt that they did not create. Brown, you are not immune to this future problem and if you have kids – they will live under the same burden all Americans will suffer.


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Comment posted August 7, 2010 @ 7:40 am

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ecigs
Comment posted April 7, 2011 @ 3:41 am

All politicians need to stop talking and take some time to think. We all have the same goals for our country – let’s come together!


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