08/31/2010 04:33 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Cold Cup of Tea

The Tea Party has it all wrong for this simple reason:

America's descent into calamity, corruption and godlessness didn't begin with the Obama administration. It began at least eight years earlier, when George W. Bush moved into the White House dragging along his venal vice president and their conniving cronies.

I'll wager that many of today's Tea Partiers actually voted for GWB the second time around, and maybe the first. They didn't raise their voices against the wasteful Afghan war, the unjustified invasion and occupation of Iraq, the disgraceful devastation of New Orleans, the hideous shame of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, or the burgeoning greed and fraudulence on Wall Street.

For eight years, these patriotic Americans were silent. As George and Laura began packing up to return to their home in Texas, ordinary Americans began losing their homes everywhere....and their jobs....and their savings. The damage had begun; it was too late to turn the tide. Now, the Tea Partiers are throwing the book at Obama. (Let's be explicit: they are calling the kettle black!)

Where were these people during the years of corporate scandals, of mounting national debt, of industrial outsourcing and outrageous gasoline prices? Were they glued to their cell phones and computers, guzzling caffé lattes at Starbucks, playing video games with their kids, blissfully maxing out their credit cards at Wal-Mart?

Have they just now awakened to the fact that America is falling to pieces? Some of us knew it all along, could see it coming, and probably should have formed our own Tea Party years ago.

Unquestionably, America's political system needs a third voice, a third party. It has happened in Britain. But American conservatives are too querulous, and American liberals and self-styled progressives are too timid. And so the role may fall to these sturdy, stolid, God-fearing Christians who are now stirring up a tempest in the nation's teapot.

Had they raised their voices eight years ago, I might have joined them. But now, in 2010, they are looking and sounding a lot like the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit -- "I'm late! I'm late!"