I thought I’d do a quote roundup from various commentaries on today’s Tea Party gathering in D.C.
From Sen. Jim DeMint, commenting on the demonstrators in Washington DC carrying signs that call Nancy Pelosi a Nazi and Barack Obama a communist:
This is not some kind of radical right-wing group. I just hope the Congress, the Senate and the president recognize that people are afraid of what’s going on.
Uh huh. That really means a lot coming from a guy like DeMint.
The demonstrators numbered well into the tens of thousands, though the police declined to estimate the size of the crowd. Many came on their own and were not part of an organization or group. But the magnitude of the rally took the authorities by surprise, with throngs of people streaming from the White House to Capitol Hill for more than three hours.The atmosphere was rowdy at times, with signs and images casting Mr. Obama in a demeaning light. One sign called him the “parasite in chief.” Others likened him to Hitler. Several people held up preprinted signs saying, “Bury Obama Care with Kennedy,” a reference to the Massachusetts senator whose body passed by the Capitol two weeks earlier to be memorialized.
Both the Times and AP are equating the crowds turning out in DC to protest Obama’s policies with crowds turning out to see the president later today at a town hall meeting. Both are saying “thousands” have turned out.
According to CNN, the event got underway an hour and a half early because so many people showed up at the bottom of Pennsylvania avenue, there was simply no more room for new arrivals.
Pictures supplied by Fox and CNN appeared to me to show a crowd stretching all the way from the Capitol steps, back many, many blocks, stretching off into the distance.
By any stretch of the imagination, such a crowd should have been identified in “the hundreds of thousands.”
The DC Park Police stopped trying to estimate crowds years ago. But given the estimate for Obama’s inauguration by some (”more than a million people”), I would say the number of people out today comes close to matching the number on January 20.
Michelle Malkin reports that Capitol Police are estimating crowd at 1.2 million. ABC saying 2 million.
Can’t say where Malkin got the “police” estimate.
Daily Mail hed – “Up to Two Million march to Capitol to protest Obama’s spending…”
Sorry, but that is certainly an exaggeration. This time lapse aerial sequence taken from where the march kicked off shows, in my opinion, less than a million marchers. A long time ago, a park policeman told me that 7 blocks of people shoulder to shoulder equals a half million marchers. Someone might want to correct me but it looked to me that there might have been 9 or 10 blocks of a massed crowd. Maybe less than that.
Of course, there were people already at the Capitol who didn’t participate in the march. And there were many late arrivals. It would be more accurate to place the total at between 750,000 and a million.
Probably the weirdest thing about the Glenn Beck / Tea Party nexus to me is that it tends to rely so heavily on libertarian rhetoric and fear of incipient authoritarianism. These kind of sentiments would be a lot easier to take seriously if not for the fact that we didn’t see these people marching out in the streets when George W. Bush used the threat of terrorism to justify secret, illegal warrantless surveillance, detention without trial, torture, etc. Indeed, the very same people who spend Monday, Wednesday, and Friday complaining that Barack Obama’s “czars” are a threat to liberty not only weren’t worried about czars in the Bush years, they spend Tuesday and Thursday worrying that Obama’s not doing enough to ensure that intelligence operatives can break the law with impunity.Jonah Goldberg, it seems to me, was the real pioneer in this brand of hypocrisy-driven hysteria—holding captives in secret where they’re hung by shackles from the ceiling and occasionally beaten to death is fine by him, but efforts to curb smoking are “liberal fascism.” And now this line of thinking seems to have completely taken over the right.
Saturday’s “Taxpayer March”– at which organizers expect anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000 people – as well as dozens of smaller marches around the country, will prove that the fledgling “Tea Party” movement is real, according to Mark Williams, a conservative radio talk show host from Sacramento who is vice chairman of Our Country Deserves Better PAC, a political action committee that is co-sponsoring the march.
“If I’ve learned one thing in 30 years of doing activist talk, it’s that you can’t manufacture this kind of thing,” said Williams. “I could get on the radio and rant and rave until I was blue in the face, but if it’s not out there, it’s not going to happen.”
But whether the marchers reflect a small minority’s continuing anger over the more liberal direction the country began taking in the 2008 election or something deeper that could have repercussions in 2010 and 2012 is one of the questions the march may begin to answer.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the Senate’s most right-wing member, thinks conservative activists demanding a right-wing shift in government policy are just the regular ol’ American mainstream.
“This is not some kind of radical right-wing group. I just hope the Congress, the Senate and the president recognize that people are afraid of what’s going on.”
I see. Confederate-flag waving conservatives, who think Democrats are Nazis, are just normal, middle-of-the-road Americans.
DeMint went on to say that “a fair analysis” of the right-wing crowd would show that it’s “a cross-section” of the U.S. population. Asked why the protestors were almost exclusive[ly] white people, DeMint added, “It’s probably just the time and organization and the media that promoted it.”
I have no idea what that means.
Back at the time of the tea-party protests — when the “stimulus” was the going issue — several people on this site made a particular point. I remember Jonah Goldberg making it, in particular. The protests were homemade, and touchingly so: unslick, amateur, unorganized. Self-organized, so to speak. At the typical big rallies — organized by the Left — you see thousands of identical signs. A “sea” of a particular sign. At these tea parties, everybody made and brought his own: just like, you know: America, at least in some imagined state.
I was reminded of this when reading this Washington Post report about today’s march. The reporters — good for them — said, “Most signs were handmade.” I especially enjoyed, “Having government manage your health care is like having Michael Vick watch your dog.”
Dick [Armey]’s group FreedomWorks, which organized last spring’s tea parties, is behind Saturday’s events as well. They claim to model themselves on MoveOn.org, except that MoveOn.org actually is a grassroots group, and not funded by corporate lobbyists like FreedomWorks is. The official website for the event, 912dc.org, is owned by FreedomWorks.
–Armey’s FreedomWorks is actively organizing against health care reform. Indeed, Armey’s lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose comparative effectiveness research in the health reform plan because such a program may cut into revenue for branded drugs.
– Currently, FreedomWorks is focusing their energy activism on supporting the status quo reliance on fossil fuels. In addition to working for various domestic oil companies with a vested interest in opposing change, Armey’s lobbying firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues such as maintaining the U.S.-UAE relationship where “U.S companies have played major roles in the development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.”
Saturday’s sponsors have deep ties to GOP lobbyists and interest groups.
– Gold Sponsor Tea Party Patriots is a website run by FreedomWorks staffers. When Tea Party Patriots list serv members objected to the 9/12 march symbol, they were rebuffed and told that all final decisions were made by FreedomWorks.
– Gold Sponsor Our Country Deserves Better is a Republican PAC that also operates the Tea Party Express, a bus tour arriving in DC for the 9/12 march. Our Country Deserves Better/Tea Party Express, which has ran an advertisement comparing Obama to Hitler, is managed by the GOP consulting firm Russo, Marsh & Rogers.
– Bronze Sponsors The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are phony think-tanks dedicated to churning out academic-appearing reports to discredit global warming. Like FreedomWorks, both organizations are funded by David and Charles Koch of the Koch Industries oil empire, one of the largest privately held companies in the world.
– Bronze Sponsor American Conservative Union is run by David Keene, a lobbyist for a firm that represents private health care companies, including the insurer HealthFirst.
– Bronze Sponsor The Senate Conservatives Fund is a Republican Party PAC run by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
A passer-by forwards this image of a printed sign being distributed at the conservative rally at 13th and Pennsylvania in Washington today.
Stay Classy, Teabaggers!