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“Lame-stream media” stereotypes the Tea Party crowd.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Doug from Reno was standing about 50 yards from the stage at Saturday’s “Showdown in Searchlight,” two hours before the official noon start of the rally featuring Sarah Palin. He was part of a huge crowd already gathering for the big first-day event of the Tea Party Express tour, and U.S. Highway 95 was backed up for more than a mile in either direction as thousands more made their way into the dusty lot a couple miles north of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hometown.
He was wearing a National Rifle Association cap and mirrored sunglasses, and had a sticker on his shirt promoting a conservative website, DumpReid.com. Doug held aloft a large hand-lettered sign: “Karl Marx and Mao Were Not Founding Fathers!”
So far as most major media organizations are concerned, he was just another dangerous right-wing crackpot, but most major media organizations never actually talked to Doug or others like him among the thousands of grassroots activists who showed up in Searchlight. With few exceptions, what brought reporters to Saturday’s rally was the opportunity to do what they have been doing in their Tea Party coverage for more than a year: Highlight negative “gotcha” moments to discredit the movement as a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics, meanwhile asking attendees questions along the lines of, “Who do you consider to be the leader of your movement?”
In that sense, Saturday was a two-for-one press-corps special, providing the media a chance to play “gotcha” with Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential candidate who is widely presumed by reporters to be a Tea Party leader, if not in fact the leader. Palin did not disappoint either fans or detractors at Searchlight, using her speech to assail the media for promoting Democratic claims that the movement is… well, a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics.
“We’re not inciting violence,” Palin proclaimed from the windswept stage that organizers had erected on the back of a flatbed truck. “Don’t get sucked into the lame-stream media lies.”
Palin’s denial of the accusation, wrapped in an anti-media message, drew cheers from the enthusiastic crowd and was quickly headlined by the same “lame-stream” reporters whom she targeted. The national press corps seems to be pursuing the idea that Palin can be used to discredit the Tea Party movement and vice-versa, as part of a mutually-reinforcing negative propaganda campaign intended to convince America that the only people who oppose the Democratic Party and its policy agenda are (you guessed it) a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics. So any event that connected Palin to the Tea Party was sure to draw a swarm of reporters, only too happy to depict both the crowd and the featured speaker as irresponsible dingbats.
The good news for conservatives is that the “angry mob” — to borrow a phrase made famous by the Democratic National Committee’s spokesman last August — now includes a majority of the U.S. electorate. The same polls that show Americans’ continuing to reject the health-care plan that Nancy Pelosi rammed through Congress also show that the Tea Party movement has higher favorability ratings than either major political party.
Whatever those polls say about Palin, she is drastically more popular than Pelosi. At least the Democratic Speaker of the House has the consolation that she’ll probably get re-elected by her California constituents in November, whereas Harry Reid now appears utterly doomed to defeat. Polls show that, if the election were held tomorrow, Reid would lose to any likely challenger among the dozen or so Republican Senate candidates who are contending in the June primary — all of whom were making the rounds shaking hands at Saturday’s rally.
Who will be the next Senator from Nevada? There’s been no opportunity to interview Vegas oddsmakers since I arrived here Thursday, but “Not Harry Reid” is certainly the odds-on favorite in that race.
The idea that Reid, the Democratic Party and their policy agenda are overwhelming unpopular in Senate leader’s home state is considered proof to the press corps that the citizens of Nevada are a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics — like David Moredock and his wife Nancy, who showed up at the Searchlight rally to hear Palin speak and therefore are, according to press-corps logic, presumed to be illiterate nutjobs.
In fact, Moredock is a Las Vegas pharmacist who says his decades of experience have convinced him that the new law signed last week by President Obama “is not the way to fix” the health-care system.
“Mandating and imposing is not fixing health care,” Moredock told me Saturday morning when I stopped to talk to him after taking photos of the anti-Reid signs he and his wife were holding. “We want health-care done right, but this is not the right way.”
OK, so what about Doug from Reno, the guy with the sign and the NRA hat? Does he fit the media stereotype of a Tea Party activist? It should be pointed out that the slogan on Doug’s sign was a statement of historical fact — neither Karl Marx nor Mao Zedong were among the Founding Father — and it is also a historical fact that some of Obama’s associates have praised Marx and Mao. Anyone in what Palin called the “lame-stream media” who dismissed Doug as just another kook could have learned a lot just by talking to him.
Doug Rodrigues is “part Chinese, part Hawaiian and Portuguese,” he explained. “In 1951, my Chinese grandfather returned to Macau, where he had some land across the river in Canton. That’s when Mao and the communists were taking over. He crossed the bridge into Canton and he was immediately arrested and thrown into prison, along with the other political prisoners. Most of them were either executed or died in prison. That’s the last we heard of him.”
Doug’s concerns about socialism — “which is where I believe the country is heading, with the present administration,” he says — may seem far-fetched and indeed, it is rather unlikely that anything like Mao’s revolution could come to America. Why? Primarily because there are so many Americans like Doug, people who believe in freedom. They are proud to be part of that dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics otherwise known as “We the People.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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H/T to National Review Online