trying not to care about unfair credit

Because I'm no political naif, it came as a shock to see that I had apparently been duped.

(Well, at least so it appeared.)

While catching up on email, I found an apparently official announcement from the American Family Association (how I got on their list I don't know) claiming that the AFA was "the" organization behind the Tea Party protests:

Tupelo, MS - The number of cities organizing Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party rallies has grown to 1,593. American Family Association (AFA), the organization sponsoring the rallies, says that number continues to grow.

"Our goal was to have a TEA party in 1,500 cities. We are nearly 100 cities above our goal and still growing," said Donald E. Wildmon, AFA chairman. He said that the AFA sponsored TEA parties are in addition to several hundred more being organized by other groups. A listing of the cities participating can be found on the Internet at

Wildmon said April 15 was chosen because it is the day federal income taxes are due. "The runaway spending by President Obama and Congress will have a definite negative effect on our families. We are leaving a debt of trillions of dollars to be paid by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Wildmon said his organization is working with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Renewing American Leadership organization.


I can't think of a better way to take the wind out of people's sails, except I don't think that most of the attendees were told that the AFA was "the" organization behind the Tea Party Protests. Fortunately for the Tea Party Movement, the AFA claim is false, even though there's nothing anyone can do about it. False advertising might be actionable in a commercial setting, but political speech is in a category all its own, and exaggeration, misrepresentation, or lying are all protected forms of speech.

Political opportunism crosses all ideological lines. I'm reminded of the Socialist Workers Party's penchant for showing up at any left-wing demonstration and trying to claim credit for it.

Were I on the left, I'd send a check to the AFA. For now, the AFA's message doesn't seem to have resonated with the attendees; if Jennifer Rubin's report is correct, social conservatives might not be ready to rejoice:

Republicans should not be rejoicing quite yet. Many protesters went out of their way to say they are upset with both parties and hold George W. Bush equally responsible for launching the now never-ending stream of bailouts. And the crowd, if anything, was libertarian in bent rather than conservative. These people are advocating less government, restraints on federal power, and a return to "constitutional government." Social conservatives who seek expansion of state power on issues from abortion to support for faith-based programs may find themselves at odds with a newly invigorated movement to shrink government and enhance individual liberty.
Regardless of the extent of their involvement, I think it would be a mistake for libertarians (or major libertarian organizations) to claim credit for what a broad-based grass-roots mass movement. It's bad enough that CNN is publicly crediting Fox News.

I realize that there are sharp differences between libertarians and social conservatives, but I don't see why they can't agree on taxation, just as they generally agree on the Second Amendment. I think both sides should take to heart what Ronald Reagan famously said,

"You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit."
Good advice, if sometimes hard to follow.

It just strikes me as unfair that those who take the credit should get the credit.

MORE: I'm not the first to criticize the AFA's bogus claims. Hot Air's "Repurblican":

It is these special interests, Right and Left, that pose the biggest threat to the movement. Contrary to what the Media Matters crowd might tell you, the tea parties are a grassroots movement that's picked up some power players along the way, and not the other way around. It's the power players that need to be watched. The Founders didn't forcefully disembark a ship full of tea because of gay marriage, abortion, God in schools, or anything beyond the right of self-determination and right to not be taxed without their interests represented, and if "sponsoring" organizations such as the American Family Association try to make "traditional values" a retrofitted part of the movement, God help us, the movement is going to devolve into a diluted, meandering ideological sideshow that does more harm than good to small-government interests. (AFA, unsurprisingly, doesn't show up at the "sponsoring" link at the "tea party" website,a testament to how decentralized this grassroots movement seems to be.)
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

MORE: Speaking of Newt Gingrich, Andrew Ian Dodge discusses his attempt to co-opt the Tea Parties:

One of the major mistakes made by the national movement was the ill-conceived decision to accept the help of Newt Gingrich and his American Solutions organization. Gingrich is a very divisive and high-profile Republican. His entry into the movement marked the beginning of a campaign by Republican groups to take over and ruin the non-partisan cred.
Let's hope the Tea Party Movement continues in spite of him.

posted by Eric on 04.17.09 at 09:21 AM


On traditional values at the Tea Party.

I went to the one in Charleston SC. Most signs were economic, liberty, or merely respect voters in nature. A few traditional values signs were there, and a few speakers brought up home schooling, Christian Nation, abortion etc. While it may have just been me and my cluster of people, the first sentence down this path was a wet blanket on the whole affair. In such a moderate rally, the "great sucking sound" of the fire leaving the crowd was most audible during the closing of the mic where the guy went on to attack Wicca as the source of evil in the country. I understand as one of 3 proud owners of a Mikey B. for President button, I am the minority at any rally. But, if Wednesday is any indication at all, those like myself will not be tied up with a traditional values crowd, because urging for a Christian Nation at a rally against an overreaching and oppressive government gets old fast. And frankly, I have better things to do during my afternoon than be lectured by spiritual juveniles about the perils of Wicca, abortion, immigrants, drugs, etc. I, and my politcal peers want to tell everyone to do one thing, and only one thing. Leave me alone. Let me be, I'll let you be, and unless you break into my house, we can be just fine.

I wrote Newt and told him to keep his dirty fingers off of my cup of tea. Snail mail of course. He botched one revolution already right? Unless one thinks GWB was the embodiment of the Contract.

Christopher Hay   ·  April 17, 2009 11:44 AM

I'm pretty much in line with Christopher. "Pick up a flag and run to the front" is how most politicians work. Willy Stark comes to mind.

I get daily e-mail from this group due to my business. I worry about their raison d'etre .

OregonGuy   ·  April 17, 2009 2:19 PM

I have heard so many of the Tea Parties are defensive about their validity of being a true grass root party. Who cares!! The principles are the issue. Small government, low taxes, Power restricted to the government to specific tasks (10th Amendment). No bailout of failing corporations by taxpayers.

Whether it was professional organizers or not has no bearing on the principle. People who react against that attack by the media are falling into a trap to justify their existence and beliefs.

RAH   ·  April 18, 2009 10:10 AM

Gee, Wildmon lying through his teeth to steal credit for himself? I'm "shocked". If the religious right successfully hijack this movement I'll walk away from it as fast as I have left the GOP behind. I don't need to vote for the Dems to get my point across, I'll just continue not showing up for the shills of the "traditionalist" hacks.

Having said all of this, I have no problems joining hands with liberals and conservatives of all stripes to fight for fiscal sanity. Heck, I'll even hum a few bars of "Kumbaya" for the social cons if that helps...

John   ·  April 18, 2009 4:38 PM

The Tea Party thing was great until the "conservatives" just had to drag their fascist anti-freedom "family value" and "Christian" garbage into it.

The Republicans did every bit as much as the Dems to create this much, and Bush and Co. made Asset Inflation, Debt Creation and Monetary Manipulation the centerpieces of their economic policy. The Repugs are just as much supporters of government- backed incentives for home "ownership" among folks unqualified for it as the Dems are- whatever it takes to keep the developers and builders and banks happy.

Labels like "conservative" or "liberal" are no longer applicable or descriptive. The only difference between the parties I can discern is that the Dems will at least let my control my own reproduction and reject Christianity, and the Republicans will at least let me smoke a cigarette in a bar and defend my second amendment rights.

Both parties are owned by Wall Street, and the purpose of these "stimulus" bills sponsored by the Dems, like the "rescue" bills sponsored by the Repugs, is to strip the last bit of wealth remaining to the population away and pour it into the back pockets of our financial moguls. Both parties are run by economic illiterates and financial maniacs.

Laura Louzader   ·  April 18, 2009 7:42 PM

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