Glenn Instapundit Reynolds on Tea Party Party in Nashville


Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Instapundit Reynolds weighs in on last week's Tea Party Palooza:

Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington's habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they're no longer depressed.

Instead, they seem energized. And surprisingly media savvy. William Temple donned colonial dress knowing that it would be an irresistible lure to TV cameras. When the cameras trained on him, he regaled interviewers with well-informed discussion of constitutional history. Other attendees were hawking DVDs, books, and Web sites promoting tea-party ideals, while discussing the use of tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for political organizing.

Press attention focused on Sarah Palin's speech, which was well-received by the crowd. But the attendees I met weren't looking to her for direction. They were hoping she would move in theirs. Right now, the tea party isn't looking for leaders so much as leaders are looking to align themselves with the tea party….

If 2009 was the year of taking it to the streets, 2010 is the year of taking it to the polls. With ordinary Americans setting out to reclaim the political process, it's likely to be a bumpy ride for incumbents of both parties. I suspect the Founding Fathers would approve.

Read the whole thing here.

NEXT: Hey Libertarians! Liberals Are Just Not That Into You!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. it’s likely to be a bumpy ride for incumbents of both parties.


  2. “I suspect the Founding Fathers would approve.”

    I approve

    1. Me too. Pass the wine.

      1. Me three. Pass the costume.

  3. Two questions: Where was this anger before? And how come if this is a genuine anti-government movement most of the sentiment is anti-Left & not anti-state?

    1. Agreed, all of a sudden once BO got elected these “tea partiers” come out and say “whoa whoa whoa big government is out of control now that the dems are in power” if John McCain would have been elected, there would have been no tea partys, even though they would have been needed as McCain would not have been any better than Obama.

      1. it was not all of a sudden. The tea party movement got started by ron paul supporters who were angry at the republicans for what they had done in 8 years. Unfortunately the movement was hijacked, i still dont know how it happened, but it did.

        1. Since Ron Paul earned between 3 and 19% in most of the primaries, it’s not surprising that Ron Paul supporters would be outnumbered in the Tea Party movement, once it gained momentum.

      2. This is such a tired argument. NO, it was NOT okay when Bush overspent – and it sure as fuck isn’t okay now.

        1. But do you actually believe that is a common belief among the Tea Partiers? Do you think you could get even half of them to say so (to actually call out Bush and things he did, not just generic “The GOP was bad, too”) even with the benefit of hindsight?

          If so, you’ve been watching a different tea party than I have.

          1. These movements start when people who thought that they were an extreme minority viewpoint discover that there’s lots of folks like them. The Republican establishment backed Bush to the hilt, and most of the Republican congresspeople and media did to, so there was nothing for ordinary people who were pissed off to grab onto, and no reason for them to think that lots of other people were pissed off. I think Ron Paul was the turning point; all of a sudden seeing his stickers everywhere, seeing the money bombs, seeing him actually competitive in primaries made people look up and realize that there were other people like them. And the fact that Fox broadcast the tea party movement when it was just starting meant that the natural momentum was hugely augmented. So yeah, there may not have been tea parties if McCain was elected, but not because the same people wouldn’t have been pissed.

            1. OK, so then riddle me this. Do you think that if we held a Presidential election and only Tea Partiers were allowed to vote, would Ron Paul beat Sarah Palin? I don’t think it would even be close.

              And of course it doesn’t even take that hypothetical situation to have Fox News run against Paul. They’ve done it plenty of times.

    2. the movement started as anti-state and then something happened and you went from obama is not american to palin and tancredo and palin talking at the “tea party” convention. I suspect those who are not religious zealots will try to distance themselves from the movement. I for one am mad that it was taken over.

    3. Probably because:

      1. The Democrats control Congress and the WH.
      2. A lot of s**t hit the fan at the end of the Bush admin. There wasn’t much chance to mobilize and express anger before he left office.
      3. The Obama admin has focused very visibly on an attempt to put health care completely under the thumb of government.
      4. The Obama admin’s other behavior has involved a lot of heavy handed statism.
      5. Obama himself never seems to suggest any solution to any problem, real or imagined, that is not government based.
      6. There is a sense that the US is accelerating toward statism and may soon reach the point of no return.
      7. The principle anti-state criticism of the Right would be a criticism of foreign policy. The Obama admin has treated foreign policy as an afterthought and so it has not received as much attention as it might otherwise have. Although there is certainly dissatisfaction with US foreign policy from a number of quarters, most Americans don’t harbor the animus toward the US military that many on the left does. Sending KSM to civilian court seems ridiculous to most Americans and creates the impression that people on the far left are running the show.

      The other problem is that the left is statist by nature and the Democratic Party is and has been fully committed to statism.

      1. “6. There is a sense that the US is accelerating toward statism and may soon reach the point of no return.”
        woah woah woah hold up there, and your saying that we weren’t accelerating towards statism during 2002-2008? Hello, the patriot act? How come these guys weren’t protesting that? That is one of the most downright evil pieces of legislation ever passed in the history of America.

        1. Certainly the US was moving down the statist highway under Bush, but the current crop of leaders is really putting the pedal to the metal. All the spending with the word “trillion” in it (yes, I know the first was under Bush) and the attempt at Obamacare has really hit the public between the eyes.

          I would rate the formation of the Dept. of Homeland Security as much more dangerous in the long run than the PA. Rightly or wrongly and for whatever reason, the public at large was never that worried about the PA.

        2. But it’s okay when WE do it!

    4. Reynolds pointed this out the other day:

      Porkbusters. There were a pretty sizeable number of conservatives who were not happy about spending at the time. As the spending accelerated, so did the anger.

      That said I think the point is valid, but only to a limited degree. Those who were unhappy with spending under Bush could have (probably should have) been louder and more numerous like they are, but they weren’t completely MIA. It was there.

      1. Well the scale was completely different. Someone who would only be slightly annoyed at their bus driver speeding at 15 mph over the speed limit… may be frightened and angry when the bus driver accelerates to 30 mph over the limit.

    5. I love how nobody can answer b-psycho’s question: Why is the teabagger sentiment not anti-state, but rather anti-left?

      There has been no leftism under Obama. There has been no socialization of financial institutions. There has been no breakup of too-big-to-fail institutions. There has been no capping of credit card interest rates. There has been no appropriation of abandoned industrial capacity. There has been no penalty for taking jobs overseas. There has been no curtailing of military spending. There has been privatization of NASA. There has been no single-payer health care. There has been no establishment of a financial consumer products safety commission. There has been no massive public works reinvestment. There has been no windfall tax or public shareholding of bailed out institutions.

      There has been no leftism. So why are a load of medicare recipients who misspell their signs while playing dress-up for the cameras seeing Red?

      Free-market libertarians all know the reason: because it’s better to fellate corporate interests with fake populism than it is to actually correct the course of the country.

      1. There has been no breakup of too-big-to-fail institutions.

        Why in the world would you believe that the left wants to do any such thing?


        1. Oh, because I listen to what they say. Kucinich. Klobuchar. Sanders. You know: that tiny handful of bona fide leftists that hold seats in the corporate-controlled Congress. True, you have to strain to listen, and none of them wear a fucking stupid three-cornered hat on TV yet, there they are, correctly decrying the corporatist arrangement of society to serve its economic engines, pushing for the inverse.

          1. There will always be leftists who complain that some leftist in power isn’t going far enough. By Kucinich’s standard, Obama is a squishy moderate. From the view of Hugo Chavez, he’s a right-wing warmonger. Neither is the final word on whether is “really” is one.

            By contemporary American standards, Obama is perhaps only moderately left. By historical American standards, he’s very left. He hasn’t socialized financial institutions or appropriated industries, but he’s got his fingers deeper into Wall Street, and his UAW buddies now more or less own GM and Chrysler. Incremental Fabian-style socialism is still socialism.

            1. Rank nonsense. By American historical standards, Teddy Roosevelt was far to the left of Barack Obama the second he busted his first trust.

              Obama’s “got his fingers in Wall Street”? Unless you’re talking about prostate massage while administering the biggest blowjob to banking interests in White House history, you have zero idea what you’re typing about.

              The UAW now “owns” GM and Chrysler? What planet do you live on and what color is the sky there?

              More importantly, what color three-cornered hats do you have to choose from there?

              1. The UAW controls 68% of Chrysler shares and 17% of GM (Second only to the US Treasury). What the hell do you call ownership?

                1. What you call “UAW control” of publicly traded Chrysler shares, I, and the Wall Street Journal, call ownership by a benefits trust with judge-appointed administrators. That, plus seats on the board, I call that certainly fair for a workforce whose contract givebacks far outstripped whatever management AND government bailout could do in the last 30 years to avoid disaster for the company. I don’t call it UAW ownership, because, well, it isn’t. The same MBA douchebag haircuts are still calling the same shots.

      2. There has been no leftism under Obama.

        Not for lack of trying! The card check and “public option” health care bill (which would have inevitably led to single-payer) were the top priorities, and they’ve been stalled by Blue Dog opposition. You can bet there would have been a lot more leftism if those two initiatives had passed quickly.

        As it is, his lackeys in the EPA have asserted the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without authorization from Congress, which is clearly outside the intended scope of the Clean Air Act.

        1. Maybe there is something to the old water flouride panic, because there has to be some chemical explanation for why libertarians look at a corporate centrist, yet see a leftist.

          You take a tiny shred of my list, ignore the rest, and try to justify these illiterate teabagging ninnies’ fear of socialism with it.

          And what is your insight? You call the crushing of health insurance reform something other than the free market for political results, paid for by AHIP. I swear, glibertarians see markets everywhere except those places where they are most important (and inconvenient for their delusional narrative).

          As far as emissions go, I’m fine with doing to CO2 what government-subsidized pollution trading did with sulfur emissions and acid rain: end the problem. Whole lotta silence about that from everybody: environmentalists, industry, government, certainly glibertarians – yet it seems to have worked like a charm.

          1. You take a tiny shred of my list, ignore the rest, and try to justify these illiterate teabagging ninnies’ fear of socialism with it.

            You claimed that there was “no” leftism under Obama. I gave three examples of leftist goals that have been either fulfilled or attempted to be fulfilled by the administration. One would have been sufficient to disprove your claim.

            1. No, not a single one of these goals has been fulfilled, sorry. Public option was a major priority? Wrong. Card check hasn’t passed and is in fact sidelined. And the EPA is, as they were with SO2 emissions, well within the mandate of the Clean Air Act – and they interepereted that mandate as one to create a market solution that made Wall Street some money and proved their pollution solution. Yeah, that’s some real bolshevism right there.

              Of course, had any of the above actually happened/been true, I still don’t see how that answers j-psycho’s question: why fulminate against the left when the left barely exists?

              The answer, as I believe all free-market fundamentalists are well aware, is that red scares are AWESOME cover for business interests to get absolutely everything they want from anyone they want.

              Libertarianism as crypto-corporatism would have it no other way.

  4. “Right now, the tea party isn’t looking for leaders so much as leaders are looking to align themselves with the tea party….” and that is what will kill the tea-party. Any crowd that cheers tancredo and palin immidietly loses credibility in the eyes of many who could have “joined” the movement. Hopefully it wont but I think the stupid tea party convention killed the true spirit of the tea party which was started by the grassroots Ron Paul movement anti-state movement. Now it seems the neocons and religious zealots have taken it over. I hope I am wrong…

    1. Except that the tea party is bigger than those who went to the convention. And it is doubtful that there will be a “leader” because if it truly is hijacked, it will lose its momentum. Look at what happened with Farah’s speech.

  5. I suspect the Founding Fathers would approve

    Um, Professor, the Founders were by and large, very wary of populist sentiment. Esp Mr Adams, despite his post above. That’s why they wrote so many caveats, provisos, and exceptions to simple majority rule.

    Or one could ask the Whiskey Rebellion guys if the Founders were all that keen on “ordinary Americans setting out to reclaim the political process”

    1. Professor? Professor?

      That’s the new racism dog whistle of the left and falsely attributed to Professer Ogletree of Harvard.

    2. OK, then Andrew Jackson would have approved. (Tom Paine’s post above is also in-character)

  6. “There were promises of transparency and of a new kind of collaborative politics where establishment figures listened to ordinary Americans. We were going to see net spending cuts, tax cuts for nearly all Americans, an end to earmarks, legislation posted online for the public to review before it is signed into law, and a line-by-line review of the federal budget to remove wasteful programs.

    These weren’t the tea-party platforms I heard discussed in Nashville last weekend. They were the campaign promises of Barack Obama in 2008.”

    And he wonders why many who voted for him are angry.

    1. These weren’t the tea-party platforms I heard discussed in Nashville last weekend. They were the campaign promises of Barack Obama in 2008 just about every candidate for national election for the last 20 years or so.

      And they’ll keep on saying it and not doing it forever, because voters are idiots.

      1. There are alternatives to the electoral process.

  7. This is the first article I’ve ever read anywhere where someone said dressing up in colonial garb was a media-savvy move….

    1. and “knowing that it would be an irresistible lure to TV cameras.” Crazy is always the money shot but calling it beneficial to any political party is complete idiocy.

      1. The presence of TV cameras explains the continuing saga of Nader for President. Plus the “moron for US Senate” campaign of Al Franken.

        1. Plus Jesse “The Body” Ventura” and to some degree Arrrrnnnnnnooooolllllllddddddddddd.

          1. Did you forget to mention some of your own tribe?

    2. You have to realize that among other things, Reynolds is an unreconstructed geek (and I mean that in its more positive sense . . . )

      1. Got it. He wears a batman costume to bed and not because the wife likes it.

        1. Hold on… Batman Begins-style costume, or Adam West-era Batman costume?

          1. Christian bale is too weird. How cool would that have been to see Adam West in the 2005 costumes back in his day?

  8. it’s likely to be a bumpy ride for incumbents of both parties

    Yeah, great. Replace an incumbent of one branch of the Big Government Party, with a member of the other branch of the Big Government Party.

    Result: More Big Government.


  9. Obama could have avoided all of this by governing more like Clinton. He could have permanently painted the Republicans as the party of fiscal irresponsibility after record half-trillion-dollar deficits under Bush. Instead he tripled them.

    1. I never thought I would miss Clinton. Now I do. At least Clinton would have paid attention to the polls with regards to his precious health care bill. One think you could say about Clinton is that he was a poll watcher. Some conservatives criticized him for this. At least that would be better than what we have now.

      1. “8 years of peace and prosperity”, doesn’t sound all that bad, now.

    2. The only flaw in that strategy is that it would require some fiscal restraint on the Democrat’s part, and they haven’t been willing to do that since the 1860s.


  10. The Tea Party movement may have started as an anti-big government backlash, not tied to either party or to tiresome Republican v Democrat politics. But that didn’t last long. The convention was just a straight Republican conservative movement outpost.

    So it’s hardly surprising that a party line hack like Glenn Reynolds would gush about it.

    1. Anyone who think Reynolds is a “party line hack” hasn’t read him. He regularly criticizes Republicans.

  11. “With ordinary Americans setting out to reclaim the political process”

    That could be true…

    Where “ordinary Americans” means “rubes with a penchant for flaky propaganda/conspiracy theories”, and “reclaim the political process” means “have more fawning ‘press’ coverage than they do full-on participants.”

    1. So I take it you have not been to any tea party events or even bothered to look into the movement at all.

      1. It is telling that your take calls for me to be ignorant. If only I understood the nature of astroturf, I’d understand that it’s almost as good as the grassroots, right?

        1. On what basis do you claim that this is astroturf?

          1. When MoveOn or Code Pink does it, it’s okay!

            1. Get outta here w/ your binary thinking…

              It is like foresters running controlled burns to deprive real fires the ability to expand.

              Take that flake who was leading Jesus freaks to protest at soldiers’ funerals. So far so good. Those soldiers died because of the imperial ambitions of the myopic ideological inbreds we pass off as leadership.

              But wait! They weren’t there to protest costly ham-handed imperialism. They were there to (crudely) protest…faggotry in the military.

              They take up the space that should be occupied by real resistance to our nations erroneous course.

              That’s not accidental.

              Or maybe I’m paranoid.

              One of those..


              1. “It is like foresters running controlled burns to deprive real fires the ability to expand.”

                Two problems with this comparison. 1. Even controlled fire ARE real fires. They do burn down actual trees. 2. So long as these tea party protests continue to focus on economic and / or spending issues I see no harm in welcoming others who may disagree with us on other issues. The criminals in DC need to see this is a broad coalition.

                “Take that flake who was leading Jesus freaks to protest at soldiers’ funerals. So far so good. Those soldiers died because of the imperial ambitions of the myopic ideological inbreds we pass off as leadership.”

                Not a good comparison for three reasons. 1. Very few people, even among most social conservatives, wanted anything to do with them. Regular Baptist Churches even put out press releases making it clear their “Baptist” church was unaffiliated with theirs and that THEIR church condemned these actions. 2. Their impact was the opposite of its intention. People who otherwise would have stayed silent came out to support gay rights. They backfired. 3. Whatever one thinks of the wars, private ceremonies of mourning are not the proper venue to protest the wars. Let the families mourn, let them heal. It beyond indecent to use a venue where family and friends are trying to emotionally heal as an opportunity to protest.

  12. The original tea party movement was more small-government libertarianism, but has since morphed into “stop the spending!” fiscal conservatism.

    That’s not all bad, though, because there simply aren’t enough pure small-government libertarians to have made this big a stink. By narrowing the focus to gov’t spending, it enlargened the movement enough to get noticed and get real results (i.e. health care bill failed, and Obama and Co. are being forced, kicking and screaming, to move to the center).

  13. Ummm…
    There were a whole 600 people there.
    Significantly fewer than go to the average high school basketball game.
    Without Caribou Barbie, there might not have been a dozen media members (as opposed to roughly one for every three members of this [ahem] “mass movement.”)

    The only reason Perot got even 19% of the vote is because, as a billionaire, he could buy pretty much unlimited media.

    Who’s going to be the Teabaggers’ financial angel?

    They don’t know who they are, they don’t know what they want (“keep the government out of my medicare”!), they don’t know whether they’re creatures of the super-right that cost the GOP NY23 or the populist center (now there’s an oxymoron) that elected Scott Brown – and that will see him defeated in two years if he joins the GOP “nothing will pass” club.

    Incoherence is neither a governing philosophy nor a program.

    1. How/why is “populist center” an oxymoron?

    2. “Incoherence is neither a governing philosophy nor a program.”

      It seems to work for Team Red and Team Blue. I expect it to continue to work.

    3. Hoffman was a pro war Neocon who parroted Libertarian talking points and Brown supported Romneycare.

  14. “Incoherence is neither a governing philosophy nor a program.”

    It seems to work for Team Red and Team Blue.

    1. That’s because they’re already entrenched. If either the Dems or Repubs were starting from scratch they would be doomed.

  15. I think Nick is a bit too cozy with the Tea Party neo-cons as well as Glenn “Amazon link” Reynolds. Steve Chapman nailed it the other day:
    ” But judging from the applause for Sarah Palin at its convention, the movement’s suspicion of government power is exceeded only by its worship of government power.”



  16. Sounds like thats gonan be about as exciting as watching a game of golf! Ekk!


  17. I went to a tea party rally in Harrisburg last year and quickly lost interest in the movement. By that time it was already taken over by the conservatives and the local talk radio station.

  18. Why do I have the feeling we are going to be right back where we started in 2012?

  19. Glenn Reynolds is a putz and a hack. I want nothing to do with anything he endorses.

    This whole tea party discussion reminds of stupid arguments I’d have with my teenage friends over who was “hard core” and who was a “poseur”…ten years after punk rock was relevant and many miles from where it mattered in the first place.

  20. I must say this back printing is very cool and it attracts people so much. It’s very common here in my city and its fun.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.