The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 9, 2010

What I'd say if asked to speak to Tea Party

Daily Star

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My friends in the local Tea Party _ yes, I actually do have a couple _ have been urging me to attend one of the group's rallies.

This, I believe, would be a splendid idea, particularly if I were given the opportunity to address the multitude.

Other friends _ not affiliated with the Tea Party movement _ have strongly advised against this notion, warning that I would stand a pretty decent chance of being burned in effigy.

I would be fine with that _ as long, of course, as we're just talking effigy here. Still, one hesitates to intrude upon places where one might not feel the warm and fuzzy glow of welcome.

Apparently, just because in a previous column I referred to the national Tea Party as a "bastard child" of the Republican Party, some of the "patriots" have taken offense.

Gee, go figure.

I'm confident that in their heart of hearts they really don't believe I was questioning all of their individual parentage, but a couple have insisted otherwise. This stems, I believe, from the fact that some of these folks seem to rather like being angry, even in the absence of anything logical and tangible to be angry about.

My comment was made in the same vein as that of the Benjamin Franklin character in the 1992 movie "1776" to fellow Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress John Dickinson.

"Revolutions come into this world like bastard children, Mr. Dickinson _ half-improvised and half-compromised."

That Franklin _ who knew a thing or two about having children out of wedlock _ probably said no such thing in real life doesn't particularly matter here. You still get the general idea.

From accounts in this newspaper and from various attendees of local Tea Party gatherings, while the rhetoric can get vitriolic enough to scald the paint off the White House, participants are generally peaceful and try to create a wholesome family atmosphere.

So, if given a microphone for say, 10 minutes, I would like to think that the chorus of boos and catcalls my statements might elicit would be reasonably polite boos and catcalls.

"My fellow Americans ..." I would begin that way because my audience would have a tough time disputing that I am indeed their fellow American, although I understand even a birth certificate _ particularly one from Hawaii _ isn't always proof enough for some of them.

"Ahem ... my fellow Americans, while I admire the fact that you've all gotten involved with your country's political process, I've gotta tell ya, folks, I have no idea what you're talking about most of the time, and I doubt very seriously whether you do, either.

"All I keep hearing are all these vague catch-phrases. One is: 'We need to take back our country.' Now, what the heck does that mean? Take it back from whom? There was an election for president two years ago and a Democrat won. Fair and square. If you don't like him or what he's doing, vote for the Republican next time.

"'Cut my taxes' is another one. The Obama administration did. Its stimulus package gave you a tax cut as long as you weren't making more than $250,000.

"You say government spending is out of control and Washington should balance the budget. Where were all you people when George W. Bush was turning surpluses as far as the eye could see into deficits as far as that same eye could see? Why is it that your Tea Parties didn't begin until a Democrat was in the White House?

"It's not enough to just howl at the moon, folks. If you're serious about the deficit, you've gotta say what you're willing to cut. Social Security? The Defense budget? Medicare? I don't hear anyone here talking specifics about anything.

"And some of these whack-job politicians you're supporting? If you truly want to be taken seriously, get yourselves some better candidates.

"Carl Paladino for governor of New York? C'mon, folks. Do you really want to support a guy who forwarded racist and pornographic e-mails hither and yon _ not just once, but over and over?

"Someone, who having fathered a love child 10 years ago, without any proof accused his opponent of philandering, and called the Assembly speaker a 'criminal' _ again, without any proof?

"Loonytunes Sharron Angle of Nevada, Joe Miller of Alaska and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware _ all so dangerously ignorant on national issues that they (almost) make Sarah Palin look wise and informed _ aren't worthy of your support. Yet there they are, and there you are ... right with them.

"And here I am, still alive, thank goodness.

"Hey, nice effigy."

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.