Nancy Pelosi doesn't get it. Insulting hundreds of thousands of Americans who last week expressed their discontent with irresponsible government, the House speaker said "tea party" protestors were either dupes of the rich or, worse, their willing tools.
"It's not really a grassroots movement," she told a San Francisco Bay area television station. "It's AstroTurf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich."
That will come as a great surprise to volunteers from all walks of life who invested their time and their money to organize more than 800 protests nationwide. Surely if there were a connection between rich conservatives and the tea parties akin to, say, billionaire George Soros bankrolling MoveOn.org, whose greatest act of protest was to call Gen. David Petraeus a liar Pelosi could prove it. Of course, she can't.
And the rallies weren't mainly about tax cuts. They were about runaway spending and the mercenary politicians in both parties who have presided over record deficits. It doesn't matter that 95 percent of Americans will see a tax cut in 2009 and 2010. An endless series of bailouts, stimulus plans and pork barrel projects are piling up a record debt. Someday, that debt will have to be paid by everyone, not just the rich.
Janeane Garofalo doesn't get it. On an edition of MSNBC's "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann overflowing with vulgar innuendo, the actress and failed liberal radio host referred to tea party protesters as "a bunch of -------ing rednecks," referring to a sexual act. "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."
Got that? If you're opposed to the bipartisan profligacy that has caused the national debt to double since 2000 and which will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, cause it to double again over the next decade, you're just a toothless, banjo-strumming bigot.
CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen doesn't get it. Demolishing the distinction between unbiased reporter and partisan advocate, Roesgen clashed with a Chicago tea party protestor on air last week, cut him off and then declared: "You get the general tenor of this anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox."
Ironically, Roesgen's media soul mate Garofalo cashes a paycheck from that right-wing network for portraying hold the laughs an FBI agent on the thriller "24." But one wonders: Where was Roesgen's media criticism during the years CNN breathlessly covered every breaking development about much smaller anti-Bush protests ginned up by MoveOn.org?
Rick Perry doesn't get it. Leaving a tea party in Austin, the Texas governor opined that secession might be in the offing for the Lone Star State if Washington continues to thumb its nose at the American people.
The tea parties weren't about citizens abandoning the union. They were about changing the politicians in Washington who have abandoned the American people.
And Barack Obama doesn't get it either. The White House told ABC News the president was unaware of the April 15 protests. Obama also "wasn't aware" of the AIG bonuses his administration approved paying, wasn't aware that five cabinet nominees and the spouse of another hadn't fully paid their taxes and wasn't aware his pastor of 20 years was given to deranged tirades.
America's most technologically savvy chief executive was certainly aware of the tea parties. His judgment, however, was that they were one-off events to be ignored, not indicators of a grassroots movement. A politician who owes his success to the promise of change should know better.