Obama Down With A Tea Party?
Sometimes, political figures say things in front of cameras that they immediately regret. Sometimes, as in the case of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, it’s not so much what they say as how they say (scream?) it. While this isn’t exactly “The Scream,” President Obama said the following at a St. Louis town-hall meeting today (h/t the Alex Burns article at Politico, emphasis mine):
“Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I’m not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, Obama said, “let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security.”
The leaders of the tea-party movement responded rapidly. The press release, found here, says:
Michael Patrick Leahy, a member of the National Leadership Team of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, said “We want to broaden the scope to address the President`s runaway march to socialist-statism, and the rampant across the board irresponsible spending he is promoting with his $787 Billion Stimulus Plan and his $1 Trillion Annual Deficit, his takeover of General Motors, Chrysler and the Banks.”
Now it remains to be seen if the President will actually meet with the tea-party movement. After already minorly stepping on his own 100-days story with Arlen Specter, and now by attacking (and in my opinion, legitimizing) the tea-party crowd, the President is faced with an unpleasant choice. Either he can ignore the invitation, and have this grassroots phenomenon wonder why he has reneged on his public commitment; or he can meet with these leaders, and acknowledge that they are indeed a grassroots political force to be reckoned with. This would leave a sizeable amount of egg (or something…) on the MSNBC circus’ collective face. After the mass anti-tea-party hysteria showcased there, and to a lesser extent on networks and CNN, it would be riotously fun to see President Obama himself lending legitimacy to a movement he himself once scorned.
I await with bated breath, good sir.