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But Shuler’s press secretary told me he was not walking with Cleaver and did not hear the “N-word,” though he did hear someone shout “communist faggot” at Barney Frank. Cleaver himself raised doubts about the spitting allegation in an interview with the Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy:
Cleaver told me: “I said to this one person, ‘You spat on me.’ I thought he was going to say, ‘Hey, I was yelling. Sorry.’ But he continuing yelling and, for a few seconds, I pointed at him and said, ‘You spat on me.’”…
“I would prefer to believe that the man who allowed his saliva to hit my face was irrational for a moment,” Cleaver said.
There is a video of this moment. It shows Cleaver walking up the Capitol steps past a white man who has his hands cupped around his mouth as he shouts. Cleaver flinches, then turns and confronts the man before going on his way. It seems clear from the video that more than words came out of the man’s mouth-but whether it was a case of gross assault or say-it-don’t-spray-it is impossible to determine.
Travis’s CNN.com story was flawed in that it failed to acknowledge the disputes and ambigui-ties about what actually happened on March 20. But on the broader point, he was absolutely right. A broad-based grassroots protest movement has no way of screening its followers. It is unfair to judge the Tea Parties by the (alleged) presence of a few haters and cranks among their followers.
It is instructive to compare the coverage of the Tea Party movement with that of protests against the Iraq war during the Bush administration. As I noted at the time (“Bad News Bearers,” TAS, February 2006), journalists almost universally portrayed Cindy Sheehan as an ordinary grieving mother, when in fact she was an anti-American crackpot who, among other things, had opined that “we might not even have been attacked by Osama bin Laden,” referred to America as a “morally repugnant system,” and said, “This country is not worth dying for.”
Sheehan has not changed her tune. She too was in Washington on March 20, for an antiwar rally near the White House at which she shouted through a bullhorn, “Arrest that war criminal!” That “war criminal” is Barack Obama. That rally got the coverage it deserved-which is to say, very little. But the media’s past treatment of Sheehan as a legitimate critic of the Bush administra-tion makes for a stark and damning contrast with their efforts to marginalize the Tea Party move-ment by focusing on its fringe elements.
Since the first stirrings of the Tea Parties in the spring of 2009, liberal Democrats have at-tempted to discredit them as both extremists and corporate “Astroturf” (fake grassroots) opera-tions. Notwithstanding the contradictory nature of these claims, the media largely echoed them-and Democrats, reassured, pushed ahead with President Obama’s ambitious liberal agenda.
That organizations like CNN and the AP are belatedly changing their approach is perhaps the best evidence that the Tea Party movement is real, powerful, and closer to the political center than Obama and Nancy Pelosi are. This isn’t news to everyone, but it is to the Democrats. It might have arrived too late for them to avert a crushing defeat in November.
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.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online