You know you’re on to something when the tinfoil hat conspiracists start lobbing grenades at you.
In response to the nationwide outbreak of taxpayer protests against the culture of entitlement, a loon at Playboy.com claimed that the Tea Party events this weekend were part of a grand cabal funded by something called the Koch Foundation in cahoots with CNBC’s Rick Santelli:
What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.
Just a few problems with this hysterical plot, of course:
1) The rebellion was already underway before Santelli took a stand on the Chicago trading floor. The Seattle anti-pork protest, spearheaded by independent mom-blogger Keli Carender who comments on this site, took place on Feb. 16. Santelli’s Tea Party call came three days later.
This was Keli’s first foray into grass-roots activism. It was a solo, seat-of-the-pants Herculean effort fueled by her passion about the porkulus bill — and made possible through blogs and social networking sites. The only outside, evil “funding” she received was from the pulled pork I donated at the last minute after she gave me a heads-up about the protest and spread the word on Twitter. Keli writes:
So it seems that we have an attempt to discredit conservative grassroots movements, and thereby their power and sincerity, by leveling a charge of “well orchestrated” or “corporate.” It is a denial put forth in order to cool the rising passions and energy by trying to suck the life out. Let me just say this: I planned the first Porkulus Protest c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y on my own. I paid the $50 for the permit and I started emailing people. Not one GOP official, county or state, showed up or offered to help. I planned the Tea Party with the help of one other woman, again I paid the $50 for the permit, and we started emailing people. And again, not one GOP official helped. It is so insulting to insinuate that we are not an authentic, and admittedly ragtag, group of citizens that have finally had enough, and are finally willing to do something about it.
If anyone is well orchestrated it is the Moveon.org crowd that is funded by billionaire George Soros.
Nail on the head. I spy projection on the part of the paranoiacs.
After Seattle, came anti-pork protests in Denver, Mesa AZ, and Overland Park Kansas — all planned on the fly before Santelli opened his mouth and all spontaneously organized by a wide variety of taxpayer groups and Internet activists — some of whom disagree vehemently with each other on public policy issues, but who united against reckless government spending and found common ground against both the substance and process by which the trillion-dollar stimulus became law.
The wheels of the “Tea Party” movement had already been set in motion by folks who probably had never heard of Santelli — let alone the Koch Foundation — when they decided to take to the streets.
2) The Daily Kos claims that the Tea Party phenomenon is one big promotional campaign for CNBC. Um, except for the fact that much of the blogospheric publicity for the events has come from yours truly
— a contributor for the rival Fox News Channel.
3) As Glenn Reynolds points out, the Tea Party-bashers can’t get their stories straight: The movement is both a savvily orchestrated astro-turfed conspiracy AND an amateurish, underfunded failure:
RICK MORAN THINKS THE “TEA PARTY” PROTESTS are amateurish and disorganized. At Playboy, on the other hand, they think they’re suspiciously well-coordinated. Both are right!
Of course they’re amateurish. Most of these people have never organized a protest before (hence the tendency to do things like forget bullhorns). That’s what you get at the beginning of a movement. But it’s much bigger news when 200 people with jobs who’ve never protested turn out, than when 20,000 of the usual suspects organized by ACORN or ANSWER march with preprinted signs. If this keeps up (and I think it just might) the amateurishness will fade away soon enough. Then Moran will probably complain about the loss of authenticity.
I’ve heard quite a bit of smug and snobbish condescension towards the Tea Party rebels from naysayers in the Beltway and blogosphere. The crowds weren’t big enough, some Hollywood types and elite conservatives sneered. The protesters need “talking points” and slicker signs.
Are you kidding me?
Some of the most trenchant commentary on the stimulus/bailout/entitlement craze has come from the non-professionals at the Tea Party.
The critics would be lucky to have half their creativity, passion, and initiative. I’ll be posting another mega-Tea Party round-up later this afternoon. More events are in the works. Stay tuned.
And Party On!
Get involved: April 15…Tax Day Tea Party.
Mark Tapscott thinks GOP leaders should get involved.
It’s nice for them to voice support, as Sen. Jim DeMint did. But I think they’d be better off staying on the Hill, engaging in combat on the House and Senate floors, and doing their jobs. What say you?