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Tea Party Subtext

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Amy Fried, Ph.D.       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Now that the media and the blogosphere have had a few days to digest the Tea Party Convention, I've been thinking - not only about the many falsehoods and racist code words uttered - but also the unspoken messages from Palin and Farah.

Media Matters has debunked many of Palin's national security claims during the speech, and Politifact has debunked other claims she made - including the claim that V.P. Biden held a meeting of a transparency board in secret.

Other absurdities go beyond mere fact checking, such as her outrage that "our" constitutional safeguards would be used against someone who is clearly not "one of us." While it's true that the Bush Administration treated the shoe bomber the same way, the real issue is Palin's lack of understanding of what constitutional safeguards are all about. The strength of those protections is not that we reserve them only for those we deem "one of us" (and you have to wonder whether Palin would have argued for Jose Padilla to be Mirandized, or whether she would object to domestic terrorists being read their rights), but rather what it says about us that we would use them for even those we may despise. Ironic that the Right loves to talk about American exceptionalism, without apparently understanding what it means.

The irony continued with a dig at Obama being a "professor of law standing at the lectern," rather than a Commander-in-Chief. Funny how she would profess to love our Constitution, while deriding the notion that a president should be steeped in the law.
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On domestic policy, she continued to make little sense - complaining about the bailout (which she supported), and decrying the lack of consequences for the large banks that caused the financial meltdown - while her and her party's answers have always been on the side of less regulation.

She decried the "wasteful" spending of the stimulus funds, a charge whose hypocrisy is particularly timely, given the recent reports of the considerable amount of energy she and her staff spend getting the state of Alaska to pay her family's travel and other expenses (including the installation of a tanning bed.) And, of course, the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq under W. was fine, because after all, it was somehow related to the military - never mind those bake sales for body armor.

While sprinkling sexual double entendres on the word "stimulated," she claimed in one breath that not a single job was created, while saying in another that the exact number of jobs created is unclear.
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But with all the misguided attacks, what really bothers me about Sarah Palin, is her cowardice. What makes her so appealing to some - her looks and her "folksiness" - are weapons she uses to bypass the usual rules by which we usually hold political figures accountable. The smile, the high-pitched inflection, not to mention her resignation from political office midstream - these are the equivalent of a child lobbing an insult, and then running away. Numerous pundits have noted that Palin breaks all the rules. But that's by design. It leaves her free to irresponsibly hurl misrepresentations about her political enemies -with much ridicule - without having to answer for their veracity, nor for her own behavior. (And who on Fox News will seriously confront her?)

WorldNet Daily founder Joseph Farah's speech was perhaps even more bizarre. While his obsession over the long expired birther issue have been noted by many, the analogy he chose was particularly telling. He went on a long diatribe on the genealogy of Jesus, and how it was used to establish his biblical status. He could have used an example of someone who established his paperwork in a more modern context. Beyond establishing the tea party firmly in the camp of the Christian Right, his diatribe betrayed his true message: that Obama is not disqualified by virtue of mere paperwork, but by virtue of heritage - and by implication, race.

Together with Tom Tancredo's call for a return to literacy tests for voting, Palin and Farah reveal what the Tea Party is really about: a loss of entitlement, by those of an historically privileged heritage.


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Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism (more...)

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