Tea Parties: A view from the Ivory Tower, and a grassroots view

Senior Obama advisor (called by some on the right “Obama’s brain”) David Axelrod described the Tea Party movement as “unhealthy” because of its alleged potential into developing into something extreme:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senior White House adviser David Axelrod on Sunday suggested the “Tea Party” movement is an “unhealthy” reaction to the tough economic climate facing the country.

Axelrod was asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about the “spreading and very public disaffection” with the president’s fiscal policies seen at the “Tea Party” rallies around the country last week.

“I think any time you have severe economic conditions there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod appeared to backtrack when pressed on whether the movement is unhealthy.

“Well, this is a country where we value our liberties and our ability to express ourselves, and so far these are expressions,” he said.

Uh huh. Nice attempt at spinning his way out of it, but he made it pretty obvious he was taking a page out of the Napolitano/DHS handbook when it comes to smearing right wingers (and others who agree with them) whow have legitimate political differences with this administration. In fact, it’s actually the whole “they’re all extremists like Rush Limbaugh” all over again, which is a play out of Carville’s and Axelrod’s books.

Contrast that with a story posted at the LAT’s Top of the Ticket blog from the perspective of Ticket reader, Dann Selle from Spokane, WA, who provided a recap of the Spokane Tea Party that took place on the 15th. The two differing views are a study in contrast between a WH that is out of touch with the anger felt by many Americans over what they’ve done in the last near-100 days, and a left coast conservative recapping the concerns and anger expressed by him and his fellow Tea Party attendees over the adminstration’s agenda.

Interestingly enough, in that same CNN piece, it was noted that Dem strategist James Carville didn’t find the Tea Party movement “unhealthy” in the way that Axelrod suggested, but indicated he felt it was “damaging” to Republicans, which brings to mind a related issue I’ve been wanting to bring up.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard over the last several weeks from supposedly “concerned” liberals about how the Republican party is going to “fade into obsurity” if it doesn’t “fall more in line” with the views of the American people. Now, I don’t think the core philosophy of conservative Republicans is out of step with the American people, but instead believe that conservatives in DC lost their way over the course of the Bush years with the massive, mostly unchecked spending, and with the various corruption scandals. That said, let’s assume for a minute for the sake of argument that the principles of smaller government and lower taxes were “out of touch” with what mainstream Americans wanted. Is that any reason to “modify” our stance on bigger government and higher taxes? Let’s say for the sake of argument that the principles of desiring a strong national defense were “out of step” with mainstream America. Should we therefore “change” what we believe on that in order to gain popularity with the American people?

The answer, in my view, is no. If conservatives abandoned their principles on those issues, our party as we know it would cease to exist. In fact, we saw what happened when conservatives in Congress started acting like moderate liberals on spending, for example – it didn’t do us any good. Certainly there are issues that we can find common ground on with the left on, like on card check, supporting our returning veterans, and on regulation/deregulation. At this point, we don’t have a choice, but in the end there are core principles that should never be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Even if it means in the end the party would die out.

The jobs conservatives have to do in order to ensure that doesn’t happen is to explain their conservative positions to their respective constituencies (or in the case of those running for office, explain their positions to their potential respective constituencies) clearly and articulately – and make their case for how a Congress and WH controlled by fiscally conservative Republicans is better overall for our country’s future than one controlled by fiscally irresponsible liberals. And at the same time, they shouldn’t be afraid to tackle the tougher social issues like illegal immigration, gay marriage, and the right to life. These issues can be framed in ways that have the potential to win over potential young conservatives and independents of all ages alike. We shouldn’t cede ground on the “green” issue, either. We don’t have to fall for the phony “man-made” global warming arguments to be able to make persuasive arguments for less dependency on foreign oil via more offshore drilling and exploring alternative forms of energy. It is, after all a national security issue more than anything else, and even after all the last two elections where conservatives have lost considerable ground, national security is still one of the few issues more people trust us on than they do the left.

What do you think?

Obama gets shown up again by another Socialist Latin American “leader”


PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — President Obama endured a 50-minute diatribe from socialist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega that lashed out at a century of what he called terroristic U.S. aggression in Central America and included a rambling denunciation of the U.S.-imposed isolation of Cuba’s Communist government.

Obama sat mostly unmoved during the speech but at times jotted notes. The speech was part of the opening ceremonies at the fifth Summit of the Americas here.

Later, at a photo opportunity with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Obama held his tongue when asked what he thought about Ortega’s speech.

“It was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored two questions about Ortega’s speech, instead offering lengthy praise of a cultural performance of dance and song opening the summit.

“I thought the cultural performance was fascinating,” Clinton said. Asked again about the Ortega speech, Clinton said: “To have those first class Caribbean entertainers on all on one stage and to see how much was done in such a small amount of space, I was overwhelmed.”

A senior administration official declined to criticize Ortega, saying the president wanted to focus on the future.

“His expectation is that these debates of the past can remain that, debates of the past and that the leaders can take advantage of this opportunity to focus on what they can do in the future to advance the interests of all the people of the hemisphere.”

Ortega, meanwhile, droned on about the offenses of the past, dredging up U.S. support of the Somoza regime and the “illegal” war against the Sandinista regime he once led by U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Ortega was a member of the revolutionary junta that drove Anastasio Somoza from power in 1979 and was elected president in 1985. He was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Chamorro and ran unsuccessfully twice for the presidency before winning in 2006.


Ortega denounced the U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s new Communist government in Cuba in 1961, a history of US racism and what he called suffocating U.S. economic policies in the region.

In his 17-minute address to the summit, Obama departed from his prepared remarks to mildly rebuke Ortega.

“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. We’ve all heard these arguments before.”

“I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old”?? What kind of defense of your country is that? It’s not – it’s a lame attempt at defending himself, which is pathetic. As much as he’d like to make it about him, it’s not – it’s about America, and for him to say he’s “grateful” to Ortega after everything he’d said about this country shows he’s willing to sit back and take it rather than stand up for it. Obama is the President of the United States, and he has an obligation to defend this country, not continually apologize for it, and not to continually rub elbows with socialist “leaders” in foreign countries who despise it – and despise freedom.

William Jacobson puts an even finer point on it all:

There is something truly bizarre about this reasoning. If something happened when Obama was not of a certain age (we know it is at least eight years old, although we don’t know where the line is drawn) then he accepts no responsibility. That is fine if one is talking about personal responsibility only. Obama is no more responsible on a personal level for what others did, be it yesterday or 30 years ago, than anyone else.

But Obama no longer is “anyone else.” Obama is the President and bears the burden of dealing with accusations and attacks on this country related to events which did not take place on his watch.

If Obama agreed with the attacks by Ortega, Chavez and others, then Obama should have had the guts to say so, and dealt with the domestic consequences. That would have been brave. If Obama didn’t agree, then he should have had the guts to stand up for his country then and there, in front of the tyrants. That would have been even braver.

The one option no longer available to President Obama is to hide behind his narcissistic view of his own personal responsibility. That is cowardly. The presidency is bigger than the person, and only a big person realizes and accepts that fact.

Obama’s overseas trips have proved one thing and one thing only: That when it comes to foreign policy and diplomatic relations, he makes George W. Bush look like a genius. God help us that we’ll have to endure at least three and a half more years of this abject nonsense.

John Hinderaker at Power Line has a recap of Obama’s bumbles and stumbles this week on his latest apology tour.

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.