WASHINGTON -- Two Tea Party luminaries have some advice for the Occupy Wall Street crowd: get a message, and clean up your act.
Not that Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.) or Steve King (R-Iowa) think OWS has anything legitimate to say, or that they sympathize at all with the anger that has been on display in protests from New York to California. Indeed, the lawmakers see the protests as artificial.
"If they knew what their grievance was then maybe one could have some sympathy, but I can't really identify their grievance," King told The Huffington Post.
West laughed when asked if he could identify at all with the protesters. "No, I don't," he said, adding that their movement was not genuine. "I don't see what the point is, and I think it's going to backfire because when you peel the onion back, you find out who's behind it and who's financing it -- it's not a true grassroots movement. It's not a true statement."
Critics said the same thing of the Tea Party movement in its earliest days, pointing to funding and organization provided by well-funded groups like FreedomWorks. "FreedomWorks tried to come in then and capitalize on it," West refuted. "The Tea Party is going to keep on whether FreedomWorks exists or not."
But aside from not being a real movement, and in spite of his charge that the protests are a creation of unions, West said one of the biggest problem of the Wall Street protesters is that they have no message.
"I don't know what these kids want. I mean, if they stand up and say 'We want the end of capitalism, we hate corporations...,'" West said, trailing off into a chuckle.
King also suspected unions are behind the movement, but found it far less amusing than West.
"I look at the signs that are there -- it's a human sea of discontent," King said, adding that he spotted anarchists in the crowds on TV. "This is the Left looking for a cause," he said. He also added that he's "seen no evidence" that the movement is organic.
He did not buy that they were angered by the the lack of regulation that sparked the ongoing housing crisis. "Aren't they volunteering to live in the street without housing right now? So it can't be very important to them, I would think," he said.
King also argued that there is no other comparison to be made to the Tea Party, even though some of them were angry, too. "The anger of the Tea Party was because this government is spending too much money and it's not operating within the bounds of the Constitution -- that's what ties the Tea Party together," King said.
"The differences we have are that I don't know of any member of the Tea Party that's been arrested," he said. "They are a peaceful group of people that could just as well be the folks at my church picnic.
"And they clean up after themselves. Let's see what kind of mess Wall Street is when they leave," King continued, before offering a few suggestions.
"That'd be my advice to them if they want to be like the Tea Party: Don't get arrested, and clean up after yourselves," he said. "And by the way, see if you can find some constitutional underpinnings to support an argument -- whatever it may be. I challenge them to do that."
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