The best laid plans...
Our newest contributer, Karoli, has audio from the teabaggers celebrating the RNC sign donations, which Heather reported on for VideoCafe yesterday:
But even after all that
official RNC support, okay, not official but still party-sanctioned, okay not party-sanctioned but still paid for by the RNC (or whatever their excuse is today), the tea-baggers seem to be petering out...
Pointing to preliminary turnout numbers at today's rally on Congress, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) argued that the momentum behind the Tea Party movement had waned as lawmakers approach a final, decisive vote on health reform.
The DNC said its own head count of today's rally estimated about 300 attendees, well below the 1-1.5 million a Tea Party organizing group, FreedomWorks, had estimated in attendance for its Sept. 12, 2009 rally on the Capitol. (Other media outlets had estimated between 60,000 to 75,000 in attendance for those rallies.)
For its part, FreedomWorks pegged today's attendance as closer to 1,000, a number which they said could be even higher since the rally was organized at the last minute, and because many people in town skipped the rally to go directly to lobby lawmakers.
Hold on there, FreedomWorks, facts are pesky things. I contacted a friend who is a Senate staffer to ask about the tea party protests from Capitol Hill and this is what he wrote back:
I didn't see anyone in the office buildings on the Senate side but walked out of the Russell Office Building to see a raucous crowd protesting loudly, a tight knot of maybe about 250-300. Only problem for the Tea Partiers: the protesters were a group calling for better public transportation in America.
The only Tea Party representation I saw was a single guy in yellow "smiley face" shorts, purple shirt, and blue wizard's cap holding a sign saying, "Nancy Pelosi Spits In The Face Of America." I know the action was planned to be on the House side, but there was nothing at all over on the North side of our august Capitol ...
Ooopsies! No fair taking credit for non-tea party protesters, FreedomWorks. In the interest of accuracy, a House staffer, with whom I confirmed this account, had this to say:
Smiley shorts guy has been there everyday for the last month.
In fact, Huffington Post has a picture of him, and it appears his shirt is green (resembling a character from Disney/Pixar's Monsters Inc, and his hat is the same as Mickey's from Fantasia), so the Senate staffer may have some issues with color recognition or the tea-bagger may be conducting his own separate non-tea party protest against Disney.
Not to be deterred by the dismal turnout and weakening talking points, a spokesperson for FreedomWorks offers a rosy prediction for their continued relevance:
"For those who are dismissing, I would say the only date that matters is Nov. 2nd," said Rob Jordan, the vice president for federal and state campaigns at FreedomWorks. "You can count on people showing up for that day."
Whatever you say, buddy.