Reading tea leaves

Reviewing reporting and commentary about Tax Day tea parties, one blogger described the left’s playbook this way:

1. Demonize your opponent.

2. Attack the messenger.

3. Distort the language.

Some mainstream media are sounding like leftists. CNN’s Susan Roesgen questioned attendees belligerently. CNN’s Anderson Cooper made off-color remarks. NPR’s Linton Weeks deflected listeners, musing whether tea leaves should be associated with protest and suggesting the protest was contrived. Other pundits thought it ironic Americans protested high taxes on a day when 95% would receive a tax break — ignoring whether one smokes, uses electricity, owns stock in a business or 401K, or are subject to inflation. Some editorial writers seemed to buy the story line, ridiculing many hundreds of Americans who took the time to make a statement.

At the Rome Anti-Tax Tea Party, several messages made sense:

"We have representation. It’s just not very good."

"Our representation was elected by us. We are the cause of the problem."

"We are worried about our personal future and that of our country."

"I’m a lot better at stimulating with my money than they are."

"Don’t let those in power drive a wedge between the haves and have-nots."

"What the government is saying looks counterfeit to me."

"Learn all you can about our founding fathers and what our country means."

It’s hard to demonize people who say such things. It’s hard to attack a messenger who asks you to think for yourselves. It’s hard to distort such simple messages, yet politicians in Washington try. One congresswoman called the tea party events an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan. That’s rubbish.

If, as reported, 1,000 people can show up in Rome, and, according to some reports, hundreds of thousands stand up across the country, then politicians on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue should set aside their political games, get their house in order, or lose office. The Kansas City Star has it right. "What we’re seeing is a center-right populist outpouring prompted by the long-term implications of President Barack Obama’s gargantuan budget, his spending plans, the massive tide of red ink those plans will generate — and, most important, what all that implies about the future balance between the government and the private sector."