01/27/2011 11:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cluelessness Trifecta as Tea Party Flubs Response to Obama State of the Union

I have already written about the economic cluelessness of Obama's State of the Union Address and the cluelessness of the official Republican response. Neither party seems to grasp that free trade killed the Great American Job Machine, and both are grasping at straws, repeating mantras from 30 years ago, or promoting policies (a NAFTA with South Korea?!) that will make things even worse.

But I was holding out a tiny glimmer of hope for the Tea Party. Whatever one may think of them on other issues, they are a populist insurgency, so if a challenge to the Demopublican Tweedledum-Tweedledee consensus on trade was to emerge somewhere, it just might be here. And polls now report that a solid 61% majority of Tea Party supporters are now against free trade agreements.

Unfortunately, the Washington leadership of this loosely-organized movement is notoriously not the same as its rank and file, and the response to the State of the Union by Tea Party supporter Rep. Bachmann merely repeated the same mistakes as the official Republican response: a) no grasp of the Keynesian idea of deficit spending to get out of recession, and b) no idea why jobs are being lost. She said,

Two years ago, when Barack Obama became our president, unemployment was 7.8 percent and our national debt stood at what seemed like a staggering $10.6 trillion dollars. We wondered whether the president would cut spending, reduce the deficit and implement real job-creating policies. Unfortunately, the president's strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money. The White House promised us that all the spending would keep unemployment under 8 percent. Well not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. It hasn't been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs...In October of 2001, our national unemployment rate was at 5.3 percent. In 2008 it was at 6.6 percent. But just eight months after President Obama promised lower unemployment, that rate spiked to a staggering 10.1 percent. Today, unemployment is at 9.4 percent with about 400,000 new claims every week.

Narrowly true, most of it, but why, Michelle? Why is the jobs engine broken? No mention of that in your speech. Just some bits from the old Reaganite deregulation agenda -- as if deregulation hadn't caused a big part of our current mess, and as if we could ever win a race to lower regulatory standards with Guandong.

The Tea Party claims to believe in returning to the Founders' vision of America. Well, here's something they should consider: the founders were explicitly against free trade. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is what they need to be pondering right about now.