Teabaggers are on the move, led by the usual suspects: Michael P. Leahy, Tom Whitmore, Judson Phillips, and social media maven Christina Botteri. They even have marching orders to chant while they pack their signs, their video cameras and their astroturf before coming to Washington DC to "defeat Obamacare".
Their Take the Town Halls to Washington website is full of rile-em-up, send-em-out rhetoric fit for bluedog and teabagger alike:
The idea is to bring a tea party town hall to the 66 members of the House of Representatives whose support of Obamacare is wavering. We want to let them know there is only one vote their constituents will support: No on Obamacare. We are asking local tea party activists to travel to Washington during this period, and make sure that each of these 66 members is reminded every day that if they fail to vote against Obamacare, they will be voted out of office in November.
One of the more interesting, but somewhat bizarre moments in the call came when Dr. Milton Wolf came on the line as their very special guest. The person speaking on the call as Dr. Wolf claims to be President Obama's second cousin (see genealogy here), which of course somehow qualifies him to be a featured "special guest" on this phone call.
Dr. Wolf's presence was ostensibly to bolster the troops, and fire up the flames of patriot wars on Washington, or something. Being a specialist and all, Dr. Wolf has a special antipathy for those beneath him, sneering at the idea of health care reform as a "middle class entitlement that won't end". I call it access to health care, but for Dr. Wolf, it plays better as a socialist plot engineered by his second cousin, once removed.
I recorded the entire call. Most of it was details about flights, hotels and the like. One key excerpt is the Wolf/Leahy conversation and QA session, excerpted below. I loved his accusation that his beloved cousin will take us from "the cradle of freedom into the cauldron of socialism...", which of course is that ugly 'government takeover of health care.' Dr. Wolf fervently believes it will be a 'middle class entitlement.' I think that more or less tells us where Dr. Wolf stands.
Unremarkably, Michael Steele and the RNC are throwing their full weight behind the effort, serving up some Michelle Bachmann with a side of Demint and a Blackburn chaser for the tea party.
Between repeated warnings about "lefties infiltrating the call", there were the usual mundane questions about signage, travel plans, and where the "war rooms" would be. Pointed instructions about social media, twitter takedowns, calls to representatives out of individuals' districts and admonitions to shoot video of everything in hopes of getting that juicy tidbit comprised the majority of the call.
For me, this was the bottom line: health care reform is going to pass whether they like it or not. They understand that this is their last stand, and are deeply fearful that Nancy Pelosi will "ram it through" on Thursday of this week. Underneath the false bravado, there is a strain of elitism, fear, and disdain for anyone suffering from lack of access to health care. They wrap it up in fishy-smelling paper with liberty written on the label, but the stink comes out anyway.
Here, then, are the juiciest excerpts along with the complete call. I was recording from Skype and the call was jammed, so some of the audio isn't great, but you'll get the idea.
Michael P. Leahy, Milton Wolf, MD, including QA session
Teabaggers' social media marching orders