By JAY AMBROSE
Scripps Howard News Service
January 06, 2010
It's a good movement, say 41 percent of Americans in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that also showed just 23 percent thinking it a lousy movement. The Democrats? Some 35 percent viewed them positively, it's reported. The negative view was 45 percent. And nobody much likes Republicans -- well, 23 percent do, while 43 percent are holding their noses.
In a Rasmussen poll that's likewise been receiving considerable columnist comment, it seems independent voters would go for a generic tea party candidate over both a Democrat and Republican, and here's what I think is going on -- ordinary Americans appreciating the principles and common sense of other ordinary Americans while simultaneously feeling disgusted with the corrupt radical leftism of Democrats and the betrayals of Republicans.
To get to favorable conclusions, these ordinary Americans had to wade through massive misinformation -- some of it in the guise of straight news reporting -- that would have them believe the protesters were GOP-manipulated ignoramuses whose effusions about such subjects as debt, taxes, health-care reform and global warming were wholly at odds with facts, figures and the wisdom of our national intelligentsia.
No such thing, for if you witnessed a rally of tea party protesters as I did, and heard what they said about our accumulating federal debt and its dangers for America, you could not help but be struck by the similarity of an assessment the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform. The people on this commission include top budget officials from past Democratic and Republican administrations -- hugely respected for their fiscal savvy -- and if their statistic-backed warnings about possible ruination were expressed in more abstract, academic terms than the protest speeches, the substance was similar.
But weren't tea party participants simply echoing right-wing know-nothings when they criticized Obama's proposed health-care reform as more threat than salvation? Liberals snickered that this was the case, but read a recent Wall Street Journal piece by Jeffrey Flier, dean of the Harvard Medical School, and you find him saying the bills Congress has now passed would neither rein in costs nor improve care, even if they might make it more accessible to some. Who do you think knows more -- Flier and the health care leaders and economists he cites, or MSNBC's lewd, tea party-bashing Keith Olbermann, who honed his political insights as a sportscaster?
At least some speakers at tea party events also worried aloud about a cap-and-trade taxing system to prevent global warming as a wasteful extravagance, and we know how nuts that attitude is, right? Wrong. Top economists have warned that the wrong approach could be much more damaging to human welfare than warming, and literally thousands of scientists quarrel with some aspect or the other of the thesis that we humans are quickly bringing catastrophe on our planet through the burning of fossil fuels and that there's no way out but an immediate, drastic curbing of emissions.
I've also seen TV reporters condescendingly question the protesters when, after a minute or two, it was clear these reporters understood next to nothing about our tax structure, who pays what, how the earned income tax credit works, what happened in the fiscal-year 2009 budget President Obama signed or much of anything else.
Some of the protesters have had their faults -- too much shouting at town hall meetings, for one -- but their dissent is intellectually respectable and perfectly understandable to me and millions of others who are also dismayed about much that's happening in Washington. It does not necessarily follow that the protesters should form a new political party, but it does follow that there has been great value in the movement.
He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com