Hype rarely matches reality, and that was certainly the case with how a Tea Party meeting unfolded in Nashville two weeks ago. Conservative pundits were skewing reality once again by feeding America's gullible mainstream media ideas about how angry Tea Partiers were going to create a political revolution in Nashville. The reality is that by the time the last angry Paul Revere impersonator left Nashville, the event had become more of a yawn than a statement. There are reasons for that.
When Fox News conducted a poll and asked the question, "What is the Tea Party movement about?" that Fox poll showed that 76% of the respondents said it was a "fruitless mix of racism and conspiracy theories." The poll showed that only 16% of the respondents said that the movement had anything to do with "fiscal responsibility." That identity crisis is one reason the Nashville event was like one-hand clapping.
To put into perspective what a non-event the Nashville meeting actually was, you need to understand that fewer than 600 people showed up for what was supposed to be the event that changes American politics. For comparisons, 125,000 people showed up in San Diego for a comic book convention. An average of 7,000 people show up to tour the Hershey chocolate factory everyday.
There were three reporters for every person who attended that Tea Party that called itself a political game changer. Those reporters were desperate for quotes that could sell newspapers and airtime. The biggest story that surfaced was that Sarah Palin had charged a $100,000 speaker fee. Part two of that story was that she was so unprepared that she had to read notes written in ink across the palm of her hand to answer questions that were planted and staged with the audience. If there really were any grassroots revolutionaries who wanted to attend, it's possible that the $550 per ticket charge to pay for Palin was too pricey.
There were other problems. Conservative bloggers flooded the net with criticism about how the tea party movement had become a money "scam." Even neo-con loyalists complained that wealthy Republicans now own the movement and that it is neither grassroots nor independent. Key ultra-conservative sponsors withdrew both their financial and political support. Spooked conservative speakers began making their exit from the scene like furry varmints escaping the Titanic.
The media came away with tons of sound bites that will continue to shape the image of the Tea Party movement. Here is a collection of what Tea Partiers projected to those reporters during that week in Nashville.
- Tea Partiers are angry people;
- Angry Tea Partiers believe Obama is an Arab Muslim;
- Angry Tea Partiers are upset that America has become so multi-cultural;
- Angry Tea Partiers believe an angry revolution will make America into a better place;
- Angry Tea Partiers were mostly made up of an aging all-white angry crowd.
But one angry Tea Partier went as far as to tell a reporter this: "We have God on our side, that's why we're so successful, and that's why they hate us." I'm pretty sure that God is not angry enough to have been anywhere around that Nashville non-event.