To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, April 25, 2024


The GOP’s Tea Troubles



“We are all Tea Party here,” declared Sarah Palin appearing with John McCain at a recent rally supporting his re-election as senator from Arizona. The crowd screamed its approval of that statement, and John McCain beamed somewhat sheepishly. One wonders what was going through McCain’s mind at that time.

Was he thinking: “How did it ever come to this?” Was he mortified with embarrassment? Did he think: “A couple of years ago I picked this woman out of obscurity, and she was an embarrassment to me during the election. Now, look what I am into. She’s picking me up and dusting me off.” Or was it, “I’m an 80-year-old war veteran and once a respected leader. I’ve endured terrible things. Now, why me, why this, Lord?”

Most of us had a lot of respect for John McCain during his earlier years as a maverick, going against his party and working across the aisle with the opposition on any number of issues important to the country. His succumbing to pressure from the right and picking Sarah Palin bothered most moderates. That topped off his shift to hard right rhetoric during his run for his party’s nomination. Then he continued to run an entirely negative campaign for the presidency, still using the style of the hard right.

Now poor John McCain is locked in a life or death struggle for his own Senate seat with a loony from the fringe right, a political snake oil salesman if there ever was one. This guy lost his seat in Congress after his involvement in the Jack Abramoff bribery scandals shortly back. Now the guy is coming at McCain for the party’s nomination, running from the lunatic fringe.

Rather than revert to what many of us think his real nature might be, John has chosen to go further and further to the right. His public appearances and his speeches in the Senate have been full of right wing hostility and anger. At home he is apparently trying to get as far over to the right as this kook who is opposing him. This is what brought him to a crazed bunch of tea party fans of Sarah Palin, while accepting the gratuitous endorsement of this know-nothing political celebrity from the fringe.

Palin has a few new cutesy twists to the old talking points, and a generous lacing of biting sarcasm disguised as humor – not funny outside the tea party ranks. The followers have the familiar signs calling Mr. Obama a commie, a Nazi, a Hitler makeover, socialist, Muslim, and foreigner, and the Devil – among other things. Their dialogue with reporters goes: “We want our country back; the government won’t listen to us; nobody wants that health care bill; health care [or you name it] is causing big deficits and bankruptcy; government is taking over health care; a bureaucrat will make your health decisions; don’t tread on me; and no taxation without representation.

The lack of validity to most or all of their signs and utterances doesn’t seem to bother the Tea Party crowd, nor their icon, Ms. Palin. Some should know better, of course, but those have shared the responsibility of selling an unthinking part of the public on the big lies.

One would think that all this hostility could not be generated from the health care issue alone, especially if this loony bunch actually believes all those lies and slogans. Unfortunately, this raucousness has been inflamed and goaded not only by the right wing talk radio and Fox News stars, but it has had its cheerleaders from among Republican Party stalwarts. “Hell, no, you can’t!” shouted House republican leader John Boehner after he lost the vote. That angry, hateful, threatening display by the party leader gave a clear “go-ahead” to the thugs in his party’s right.

Is it important to understand that research shows 75% of the Tea Party fringe identify as Republicans, while only 15% have Democratic backgrounds? Of course, nobody would expect anything different.

History has shown that extremists on either side do not win elections. For example, Republican Goldwater and Democrat McGovern lost in landslides. If the Republican Party keeps to the hard right, as they have been doing, then history casts them as a loser in any national general election.

On the other hand, if the Republicans disavow the tea party fringe, and that group organizes to run its own candidates, then other historical trends come into play. Does anyone remember 1992 when Ross Perot entered with a good following, and Bill Clinton beat the elder Bush with not quite half the votes cast? Ralph Nader has caused similar problems for Democrats, resulting in George W.’s election.

As of now the Republican Party regulars seem to be allowing the Tea Party fringe, with the help of ultra-conservative broadcasters, to take over and dominate their party. Should they continue to do so, and eventually achieve the image of the hostile, pseudo-patriot Tea Party people, it is questionable that anything good can come for them or for anyone else.

Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer


  1. Perot did not elect Clinton. All polling shows that Perot drew from Democrats the same % as Republicans. The Cato Institute did a study and shwed that if Perot was no in the debates. Bush 41 would have lost by a larger margin. Bush 41 demanded that Perot be included in the debates due to the fact that Bush needed Perot to take away votes from Clinton which is exactley what happend. This myth really needs to stop becasue it is bankrupting the nation.

    • Likewise, Nader didn’t “result in George W.’s election”! Gore actually WON Florida’s popular vote, as well as the national popular vote, and thus the Electoral College vote, as the media consortium showed. Gore didn’t fight to secure his win, but let it be stolen by the SCotUS Five, Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush, Diebold and other electronic voting firms pledged to insuring Bush’s “win,” and the Fox News big lies.

      Also, nearly 300,000 Dems in Florida voting for Bush had far more impact than Nader on the outcome, as both DLC head Al From, and Al Gore himself have stated. Most Nader voters would have stayed home or voted for another non-major party candidate had Nader not run; polls show the rest would have nearly split between Bush and Gore, resulting in a wash. Other polls show that without Nader running, Bush would have done better, particularly among Muslim voters, and could have won outright, instead of STEALING the election.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.