ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight wrote this column appearing November 27, 2010 on The Washington Times website.
Whew. Liberals are breathing a sigh of relief after the Associated Press released a poll this past week showing that Tea Partiers are out of step with the rest of America. Doctrinaire liberal: “We just knew those people were wacko. Now we have proof.”
Another doctrinaire liberal: “Thank goodness for polls like this and a reliable outlet like AP, or Sarah Palin and her backwoods family might yet dance their way right into the White House.”
Here’s how AP spun it:
‘Tea party’ backers fashion themselves as ‘we the people,’ but polls show the Republican Party’s most conservative and energized voters are hardly your average crowd.
“According to an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 84 percent who call themselves tea party supporters don’t like how President Barack Obama is handling his job – a view shared by just 35 percent of all other adults. Tea partiers are about four times likelier than others to back repealing Obama’s health care overhaul and twice as likely to favor renewing tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans.
Doctrinaire liberal: “See? They’re out of the mainstream. Now we can get back to pretending we care about the national debt. Hey, have we told you how debt talk can translate into higher taxes?”
Here’s their problem: The only poll that counts was taken Nov. 2, when liberals were routed all over the nation in the Great Shellacking. So, either those Tea Partiers found a way to resurrect the dead like miracle-performing precinct captains in Chicago and Baltimore or the nation is closer to the Tea Party vision than liberals want to admit.
There is other evidence that Americans are not quite ready to jump back aboard the Hope and Change Express. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll on Wednesday showed that just 28 percent of voters “strongly approve” of how Mr. Obama is performing as president. Forty-two percent strongly disapprove, “giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 14.”
I’m not a statistician, but combined with rude comments from Democratic consultant James Carville about Mr. Obama’s anatomy, these developments indicate that Mr. Obama’s troubles are deepening and the Tea Party’s moment in the sun may be just beginning.
Even the professional gropers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are taking the hint that Americans have had it with heavy-handed government. I flew out of Washington Dulles International Airport this past week to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and back, and the TSA people could not have been nicer.
Gone was the officious, cattle-prod attitude. Instead, the agents patted children on the head (just on the head) and exchanged friendly greetings. At least, they did so at Dulles and in Fort Lauderdale. Plus, the full-body-scan machines went unused. We all sailed through the usual magnetic scanners, past smiling TSA agents. God bless them, because they do have an unenviable job. It’s like being a hockey goalie. You can play well the entire game, but if you let the game-winning puck go through, you’re the goat, and in this case, the stakes are astronomically higher.
But getting back to the Tea Party: Something is in the air, and it’s not a taste for more liberal government.
Even if the AP poll is accurate and the Tea Party crowd is more adamant than other Americans about rejecting Obama Nation, that should not bring liberals any solace. People who are politically active are naturally more energized and motivated than other citizens. And it takes only a highly motivated minority to shift political tectonic plates.
Largely out of step with America, liberals have enjoyed decades of success because the liberal media have kept the spotlight off their prevarications and policy failures. But the new media have changed that.
Now, when you hear the New York Times or CBS touting “research” showing that global warming causes hair loss, herpes and acid rain in the Sahara, you can check out other sources.
Similarly, you can take with a grain of salt the AP story’s predictable warning that Republicans had better listen to Democratic strategists if they know what’s good for them. OK, AP didn’t put it that way, but there was huffing and puffing about the danger of alienating “moderates,” accompanied by quotes like this:
The House and Senate Republican leadership are playing a very dangerous game by appearing to embrace proposals that many Americans consider outside the mainstream,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who was narrowly re-elected over tea party favorite Sharron Angle.
Who would have thought that slot machines could dispense filled-out ballots just in time for the final count in Vegas? Sorry. Who knows how Mr. Reid managed to win after trailing in the polls consistently just before the election? Maybe it was all on the up and up.
And maybe it’s for the best to have Mr. Reid around to continue to disparage Tea Party Americans as “outside the mainstream” and even “extreme.”
He and the liberal media are making those terms badges of honor. But that leaves us with a problem. What do we call the real extremists?
You know, the ones who want a confiscatory death tax that seizes 55 percent of a business that the founder spent a lifetime creating? Or the folks who think carbon dioxide, the very breath we exhale, is a dangerous pollutant?
For now, let’s skip the term “progressives” and go back to the old reliable: liberals.