I just read a very bizarre blog post about entrenched incumbent Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch by Fox News anchor Greta van Susteren and then watched an equally distressing interview van Susteren conducted last night with Sarah Palin regarding Hatch.
First, the title of van Susteren’s blog post: “Is someone trying to manipulate the UTAH Tea Party vote unfairly away from Senator Orrin Hatch?”
Van Susteren absurdly suggests that dark, sinister, unnamed, and uninformed forces in Utah with outside backing are somehow trying to take away Hatch’s seat through nefarious means. She’s clearly talking about D.C.-based fiscal conservative groups like FreedomWorks and Club for Growth that support possible GOP primary challenger and current Rep. Jason Chaffetz (whom I also support). But she won’t come out and just name these groups. What gives?
Moreover, she fails to explain how it’s bad for a few Beltway-based groups to “manipulate” the race by encouraging primary challengers, but it’s fine for Beltway-based van Sustern to influence readers with her ill-informed dissection of the race and her promotion of Hatch’s purported Tea Party bona fides.
Hatch’s people have lined up big national guns from outside Utah to help him hold on to his power and perks. It seems clear to me Hatch is calling in every last chit he has amassed over four decades in the Beltway. It’s the only rational explanation for the beyond-laughable promotion of Hatch as a — gag — “Tea Party visionary.”
Whatever their reason for coming to Hatch’s aid, I wish some of these outside supporters of the incumbent would show a little more self-awareness and refrain from accusing other non-Utahans of “manipulating” the race and disregarding facts when their own fundamental understanding of the history and agenda of the Tea Party movement is so fatally flawed.
Utah voters themselves sent a clear, potent message that entrenched incumbency is no argument for more entrenched incumbency last May when they booted Hatch’s Senate big government Republican colleague Bob Bennett from office in the primary. Were they “manipulated,” too?
Van Susteren’s sloppy blog post (which doesn’t include a single hyperlink) provides erroneous facts about the Tea Party movement, erroneous characterizations of the core Tea Party agenda, and erroneous analysis of Hatch’s fiscal record after three decades in office. After insinuating that unprincipled motives are fueling those who oppose Hatch, she wraps up with a rather specious conclusion that based on Hatch’s creaky old support for the balanced budget amendment, she “would think that fact alone would make him the champion (the visionary?) of the Utah Tea Party.”
She ends with a question: “Am I wrong?”
First, let’s correct her errors about the birth of the Tea Party movement and its core agenda. She says she “decided to take a look at the facts and investigate a bit.” This is what she says she found:
First, The Tea Party appeared on the scene in about April 2009.
Second, 18 months later, in November 2010, the Tea Party exercised its political muscle and elected Tea Party Members of Congress. The mantra of the new Members of Congress, and what the Tea Party Congressional winners ran on is, “balanced budget amendment.”
Wrong. And wrong. Seriously, how long did she spend “investigating?”
The seeds of the Tea Party protest movement sprouted in February 2009 as grass-roots citizens outside the Beltway gathered to protest the massive Obama porkulus, generational theft, and the White House push for massive expansions of the government mortgage entitlement. On Feb. 19, CNBC’s Rick Santelli issued his now-famous “Tea Party” call — prompted, many people forget, by Obama’s mortgage entitlement expansion plans (proposals we’ve protested whether from Democrats or moron Republicans). Let me remind you that John McCain supported a behemoth $300 million mortgage entitlement expansion that dwarfed Obama’s — and it was the failure to provide a clear contrast to the Democrats’ Santa Claus politics that helped doom McCain and the 2008 GOP presidential bid.
Foremost on the agenda of grass-roots Tea Party activists was the need to stop new bipartisan bailouts and block Obama’s new spending programs. Investor’s Business Daily’s David Hogberg and Patrik Jonnson at the Christian Science Monitor were the first national media reporters to provide a fair and balanced look at protesters mad at both parties for bailout-a-palooza in late February:
To be sure, the federal spending package includes tax cuts for most Americans, and Obama has promised to eventually halve a US deficit the Democrats have largely blamed on the Bush administration.
But protesters like Kevin Tanner of South Dakota said deficit spending by both parties has unnerved Americans. “The Republicans have their own problems because we elected them and they didn’t do what we wanted,” says Mr. Tanner.
Many protesters expressed a sense that basic American freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are threatened by new Washington policies seen by many as more socialistic than capitalistic. The proposed taxpayer bailout of homeowners who may have inflated their earnings in order to secure mortgages is one example, says Jeff Crawford, a protester from Dacula, Ga.
“The first year after the Mayflower arrived, the colonists tried a communal method of storing and sharing food and it failed miserably,” says Mr. Crawford. “Why are things any different now?”
Eighteenth-century symbolism was rife at the Atlanta event as speakers drew comparisons with the Boston patriots who dumped the King’s tea in Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation, an act that began the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.
Some kids at the Atlanta protest wore tri-cornered hats, and one held a sign that said, “When I grow up I want to be free.”
In Tampa, two dozen protesters held handwritten signs with slogans like “Keep Your Bailout; I’ll Keep My Freedom.” About 300 people showed up in 25-degree weather in Wichita, Kansas, and someone brought a pig.
In St. Louis, local media expected about 50 people to show up while actual turnout surged to over 1,000 people.
After the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party protests in April 2009, the next wave of protests in the summer of 2009 focused on Obamacare and costly federal health care spending, regulations, and mandates. Sorry to burst van Susteren’s bubble, but the balanced budget amendment — while important to many founding Tea Party activists and candidates — was simply not what drove so many thousands of first-time fiscal activists onto the streets and into town halls and polling booths.
Weirdly, van Susteren then writes that “I had some research done for me” (by whom?) and hypes the “stunning” (to whom?) information that — gasp! — Hatch sponsored Senate BBA resolutions in 1979 and 1997 (dates which she puts in bright red, bold font).
More to the point: Since when does balanced budget amendment support alone solidify a pol’s Tea Party credentials and when did van Susteren become notary public of said credentials?
Grass-roots Tea Party activists inside and outside Utah have myriad problems with Hatch’s three-decade-long voting record.
Let me repeat what I said two weeks ago when Hatch called himself a Tea Party person:
Orrin Hatch is the antithesis of the Tea Party spirit. He is a mascot for big-spending Beltway entrenched incumbency who has consistently joined hands with destructive Democrats.
He co-sponsored the $6 billion national service boondoggle and dedicated it to his good friend Teddy Kennedy, with whom he also joined hands to create the ever-expanding SCHIP entitlement.
He supported tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner from day one, lavished praise on Joe Biden’s balls, and embraced and defended Attorney General Eric Holder’s nomination because, he said, “I like Barack Obama and I want to help him if I can.”
Most importantly: How do Utah Tea Party people feel about Tea Party pretender Orrin Hatch?
The same way they feel about his former big-spending entrenched incumbent in Utah — former Sen. Bob Bennett…
As I noted back in April 2009:
If only the condescending cable TV anchors at CNN and MSNBC had paused from wallowing in gutter puns about tea bags, they might have reported an even more significant phenomenon: Tea Party protesters were as vocal in their criticism of Republicans as they were of Democrats. In Salt Lake City, Utah, a crowd of 2,000 repeatedly booed GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, who both supported the $700 billion TARP bailout, and protested GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman’s decision to accept $1.6 billion in porky stimulus funds.
Refresh your memories of how Utah Tea Party activists booed Hatch, Bennett, and McCain 2.0 presidential candidate and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (at 1:24 in the video) in Salt Lake City in April 2009:
The video somehow escaped the attention of van Susteren’s researchers.
And yet on her TV show interview with Sarah Palin Thursday night, van Susteren accused Tea Party folks of factual omissions:
If you do a little research,” Van Susteren noted, it was easy to find that Sen. Hatch was a longtime champion of the balanced budget amendment, and that he had been ardently against excess spending for decades. “Some of these people in the Tea Party movement won’t recognize it. They won’t look at the facts,” she argued. “Within the Tea Party movement, there is a disregard for the facts.”
She then went on to minimize opposition to Hatch as “small” and criticized Hatch’s critics as “disruptive.” Van Susteren looked perplexed and irked that Tea Party people would want to turn out an elected incumbent in the Republican Party.
Hello? From day one, the nascent Tea Party movement has always been about holding both parties accountable for their records. “Disruption” of Washington business as usual is the entire raison d’etre of the grass-roots revolts and out-of-control taxing and spending. Token support for a balanced budget amendment means nothing if the BBA sponsor has spent nearly 40 years — as Hatch has — rubber-stamping expansion after expansion of the welfare and entitlement state, then hooking up with corruptocrat Dems like Chris Dodd and Teddy Kennedy to preserve and protect pet boondoggles.
Most devastating of all, Palin offered ZERO rebuttal of van Susteren’s nonsense and agreed that Tea Party folks should “work with” Hatch instead of “shoving him out.”
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I see a lot of good, hard-working Americans who are in the Tea Party movement. And then, you know, from time to time, I see things like — you know, today — today, I wrote on Gretawire a blog about what’s going on within the Tea Party movement to Senator Orrin Hatch. I mean, he’s getting attacking by a small portion of the Tea Party movement for not being Tea Party-ish enough, and it’s — and it fundamentally goes around the balanced budget amendment, which is so — which is the mantra of the Tea Party movement.
But if you do a little research, Senator Orrin Hatch going back to 1979 in the U.S. Senate was pushing the Tea Party — a balanced budget amendment. Yet some of these people in the Tea Party movement won’t recognize it. They won’t look at the facts and they go after him. So it’s, like, even within the Tea Party movement, there is — you know, there’s a disregard for the facts and an effort to be sort of disruptive even within the — within the group.
PALIN: Well, and you’ll find that within any venue, within any group, Greta, especially when it involves politics. But to your particular point about Senator Orrin Hatch — he is doing good in terms of trying to get a balanced budget and he has been for the last couple of decades. And he’s pushed hard for some fiscal reforms that we have got to see implemented, otherwise, you know, crony capitalism is going to continue coming out of Washington, D.C., and we’re going to continue on the wrong path and we will be bankrupt.
So people like Orrin Hatch, who now especially — he’s rising up with quite aggressive talk about the balanced budget amendment and other things that he has seen for all these years need to be done. We need to be agreeing and embracing his idea and working with him to make sure that that happens, instead of shooing him away and shooing him out of a Tea Party movement, if you will, when he agrees with such a basic fundamental principle that we must see implemented, and that’s just simply balancing the doggone federal budget!
Is this the same Palin who just a few weeks ago boldly (and rightly) wrote: “Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.”
To quote of my favorite Palinisms: WTF?
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