Tea & trumpets

"Tea & trumpets" Continued...

Issue: "Ghost streets," Feb. 27, 2010

Weeks shy of the movement's first anniversary, organizers ended the weekend by asking for the same thing conventional groups do: money. Phillips said individuals must "belly up to the buzz saw" and get used to asking for dollars to support candidates.

In a call for a show of hands, about a dozen of the 600 delegates said they were thinking about running for office; an additional six said they actually are running in 2010. The delegates in general seem to embrace their outsider status and relish the fringe label they get from the mainstream media (at one point the group turned and shouted in unison to the press seated in the back of the room).

Convention organizers seemed to leave asserting an agenda to their closing speaker: Sarah Palin. Her appearance, covered live by all the major news networks, seemed to give the group a link to the political mainstream. With her trademark folksy jabs, Palin attacked Democrats for their approach on nearly every policy front, including foreign affairs, the economy, and energy. She stuck to the Republican talking points of tort reform for healthcare, described an "out of touch" pre-9/11 security mindset at the White House, and attacked past and future stimulus bills along with the president's $3.8 trillion federal budget.

"D.C. would just love for us to believe that this is all way over our heads," she told the crowd. In return, the audience held up copies of Palin's book, and a few raised "Palin 2012" bumper stickers.

Decked out in a patriotic sequin hat and wearing a jacket with an American flag print covering the back, Donna Fike, 72, of Ridge Top, Tenn., said Palin is her presidential favorite: "She is a politician you can trust, which is rare these days."

Washington, perhaps due to inclement weather, largely ignored Palin's speech. Senate and House majority leaders, as well as the White House, did not comment. These Tea Party hopefuls are still waiting for Washington to listen to them.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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