The Tea Party up close and personal

After writing about Max Blumenthal, I recalled earlier work that he did on US domestic politics and a short documentary in 2010 that took a look at the Tea Party and its wealthy backers and the racist messages that drove much of the rhetoric. It was the standard Blumenthal method of going to their meetings and talking with them and you can see the angry reaction from people like the late Andrew Breitbart, while Blumenthal remains calm with a smile on his face. (For some reason, the 28-minute documentary is followed by 12 minutes of a blank screen.)

Max Blumenthal goes inside the Tea Party from Ram Bam on Vimeo.

In the video we see the prominent role of former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey, who left Congress and became head of FreedomWorks and played a major role in the fear-mongering that fueled the growth of the Tea Party. Armey acted as the intermediary between the big money interests behind the faux grass roots movement and the people shouting and holding signs at rallies. He left the group soon after a bizarre dust-up.

As my earlier post about the Republican civil war said, Armey is now, along with Karl Rove, trying to rein in the Tea Party monster they helped create because it is threatening to devour them.

The Tea Partiers felt so energized back then that they foresaw sweeping victories in the 2010 mid-term elections and they were right, with Republicans gaining 63 House seats and a majority, and six seats in the Senate, narrowing the gap with the Democratic majority. However, that bloom was short-lived and 2012 saw them losing eight seats in the House, two in the senate, and most devastatingly for them, seeing president Obama re-elected.

The 2014 elections will be a pivotal to see if they have staying power.


  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Off topic sorry but I just want to say this:

    I apologise Mano Singham to you and your readers.

    I’m not a nasty person, really I’m not. But I am a bit messed up. A lot even.

    And I have said some pretty nasty things when I’ve been carried away in the heat of argument here on this blog.

    Mea culpa. I’m sorry about that. Surprised (& glad) I’m not banned from here.

    I struggle for balance. I’ve got mental health issues of my own.

    Many years I went waaay too far in one direction and now I realise I’ve gone waaay too far in the opposite direction. I over-corrected. Once I was anti-Semitic, then I realised that and overcompensated in an attempt to undo the damage I thought I might’ve done.

    I apologise for that and for many of the things I’ve said last year and before on this blog.

    I ‘m really not racist, not a believer in genocide, not what some people have accused me of being.

    I don’t believe in violence or harming others. Any others. I think those that do are wrong.

    But I have said a few things that I now realise could’ve led to that mistaken impression and I’m sorry and humbled and willing to admit I was wrong about a few things including a lot of what I’ve said here before in usually overtired and drunk state although I’m NOT claiming that as an excuse just how I am.

    Again, I am sorry and I apologise to you and your readers here.

  2. Silentbob says

    I salute you, StevoR.

    In my opinion there is no shame in being wrong. There is shame in knowing you’re wrong and refusing to face it out of pride. You have said hateful things, but I have never thought those things came from a place of hate, rather a misguided loyalty to institutions that are dear to you. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, but loyalty should never trump compassion. We should be as willing to criticise our own side – perhaps even more willing – as we are to criticise those we oppose.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. People naturally pick on you for your more intolerant comments, but you have also demonstrated great compassion. (I remember you were staunchly on the pro-feminist side from day one of the elevatorgate controversy two and half years ago.)

    I’ve criticised you in the past, harshly and sarcastically, but always in the hope that you would reassess. Which you have done.

    As one Aussie to another… good on ya, mate.

  3. Mano Singham says

    That was very gracious of you.

    None of us have the views we have fully developed from birth. All our views have changed over time, hopefully for the better. I cringe now when I recall many of the views that I had when younger: pro-US in the Vietnam war, sexist, homophobic, tribal, to name a few. These have been painfully overcome over time, at least somewhat, though one may never quite get rid of all one’s past views but merely suppress them because one knows intellectually that they are wrong.

    I have often wished that I could go back in time and space and apologize to the people I may have offended personally, but that cannot be. One simply has to resolve to be better.

    So you are by no means alone.

  4. says

    I watched the video clip and was amazed by how poorly the tea partiers are able to articulate what they claim to believe. It’s always odd to me when I see that because I think “if you believe it, you must first understand it, which would mean you could probably explain it.” But I don’t really think that is what is going on there – they don’t really understand; they’re talking parrots.

    In fairness I think Blumenthal did a good job of selecting his pieces of video for maximum “make them look stupid” factor. The clip of Anne Coulter, for example, left the taste of vomit in the back of my mouth – and that guy at the end of the video (27:42) was just horrible. IN-U-ENDO! IN-U-ENDO!!! What an argument.

  5. says

    For the longest time I have considered Anne Coulter to be a performance artist purely doing it for the money.

    Sure, but couldn’t she at least be funny or interesting? I mean, she could spit ping pong balls into shot glasses, or make rabbits appear or tell jokes or something.

  6. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @3. Mano Singham & #2. Silentbob : Thankyou to both of you.

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