If nothing else, the conservative movement is an irony producing machine. Aided and abetted by their echo chamber at Fox News, on Tax Day next week members of the raging right will gather at so-called Tea Parties around the country. There, the protesters, at least 95% of whom received a tax cut courtesy of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, will in essence decry "no taxation with representation." And if their misunderstanding of the Boston Tea Party wasn't bad enough, their choice of tea bagging as metaphor is more unfortunate still.
To be sure, what theoretically began as a protest against profligate government has morphed into a Rorschach Test of right-wing political grievance. (For examples, see this video collection from Huffington Post.) Glenn Beck's astro-turf acolytes decry saboteurs and "communists," evolution and "brainwashing machines." The tea baggers' strange brew of Birthers and Birchers proclaim Barack Obama foreign-born while issuing calls to "burn the books." In the end, the far-right foaming at the mouth (starting around the 1:58 mark above) was enough for the renegade conservative blog Little Green Footballs:
"This is some really deranged stuff, and the audience is eating it up."
As Jon Stewart rightly pointed out to the beaten and battered, furious and frothing minions of the right, "I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing." While President Obama has proposed returning the tax rate for the 2% of taxpayers earning over $250,000 to the Clinton-era levels of the booming 1990's, the Tea Baggers apparently believe King George III is still oppressing his colonial subjects under the yoke of the Townshend and Tea Acts:
In 1773, a handful of men dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. That one act set in motion a chain of events that birthed the greatest nation on earth. But today, many Americans feel helpless as they watch an imperialistic government destroy our Constitution and 237 years of liberty.
The first American Tea Party birthed a nation. The second American Tea Party could help save it!
Of course, what the Tea Baggers have saved is hundreds of dollars each, thanks to the Obama stimulus package passed by Democrats in the House and Senate, a Congress which was overwhelmingly elected by the American people. In response, the disaffected denizens of the right plan their own stimulus of sorts, spending their tax cuts on "T.E.A" ("taxed enough already") merchandise. It's no wonder fiscal conservative Andrew Sullivan could only conclude:
"These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It's a function of a movement's intellectual collapse and a party's fast-accelerating nervous breakdown."
And as the Rachel Maddow Show among others highlighted, these Fox-Pajamas Media sponsored tantrums chose a most unfortunate means of protest. In the vernacular, as one uncomfortable Salt Lake City reporter detailed, "tea bagging" isn't merely a term referring to rubbing one's genitals over the face of another. The practice has also become part of hazing rituals - and court cases - involving high school and college sports teams nationwide. In Pennsylvania, New York, Utah, Colorado and elsewhere around the country, parents and their children are grappling with what courts have deemed sexual assault. And as its core, the hazing practice involves coercion, taunting and, above all, degradation.
All of which makes tea-bagging the perfect protest of choice for the furious followers of the Republican right.