Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tea Party Hangover

One of the most fun parts of following the health care debate was the wackiness of the Tea Party movement. Part spontaneous uprising by conservatives against an expansion of the welfare state, part result of careful cultivation by Fox News, and part paranoid delusion by conspiracy nuts and unruly mobs, it was always exciting to follow the twists and turns. Probably the lowest point of the whole thing came when someone caught a few Tea Party activists on tape accosting a Parkinson's victim who was holding a pro health care reform sign:

The video went viral and was even played on cable news. After the identity of one of the protesters - the guy who was throwing dollar bills - became known, a kind of repentance happened. From an interview in a recent article, he seemed to genuinely feel remorse, and in a way none of the conservative leaders who were responsible for working people up into that kind of a frenzy have, he owned up to what he had done:
"I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can't explain it any other way," said Chris Reichert of Victorian Village, in a Dispatch interview..."He's got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful," Reichert said. "I haven't slept since that day."
Obviously Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or John Boehner aren't going to take responsibility for anything, regardless of how bad things might get, but it will be interesting to see if regular Tea Party activists start to come down from the high of "fighting tyranny" and, once it's clear that health care reform isn't going to lead to Armageddon or the end of freedom, are left with the sort of hangover Mr Reichert appears to be feeling.

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