Come on, folks, there’s really something more alarming than a congressman’s gray underwear.
I give you the Grand Old Tea Party and the 2012 presidential race.
That’s what it is, right? The GOTP? Republicans were more inclusive. Remember Mac Mathias?
The strange new reality has been with us for some time, of course. But the significance of it keeps coming into sharper focus.
Now we’ve had a debate among declared candidates, including for the first time Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
You remember Romney. He’s the guy who’s running against a health care plan he pushed through the Massachusetts legislature. The plan seems to be working well.
Now he’s against it. Under the new political rules, of course, he has to be or he’s toast in his primary.
It’s a spectacle.
The new perversity
Here’s someone who, policy-wise, had something to hang his hat on before he threw his hat into the ring.
But he’s become an illustration of the new perversity. It’s not about what works. It’s about sustaining the pejorative rhetoric. “Obamacare,” having been thrust into the political vernacular of the right, must be intoned, thrummed and repeated ad infinitum.
Don’t tell anyone, but Romney actually made government work. Can’t let that out. Government is not the solution. Government is the problem. Etc.
Under this new banner, Romney is obliged to assume he’s running in a party primary where the tea partiers will have all the influence. They don’t like the national plan passed by President Obama. As we all know, Obama and the then-Democrat-controlled Congress used much of what was passed by Romney in Massachusetts.
A badge of honor became a curse.
Mitt now explains that what may have been good for Massachusetts may not be good for the rest of the country. We all buy that, right?
He’s not the only Republican candidate who thinks following the company line — opposition to Everything Obama is the way to win the party primary. One of the candidates, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, took himself to the public confessional over a bill he once supported — only to find the tea party catechism says no.
Civics for tea partiers
If this political reality drives you a little batty, you may be in need of the Tea Party Survival Guide.
You can push back.
Herewith, a few suggestions:
-Organize a Nancy Pelosi Fan Club. It’s the kind of in-your-face activity that drives ’em crazy. Besides, she’s a Baltimorean.
-Invite the members of your local tea party to a meeting of Adults for Political Literacy. Hand out bumper stickers to anyone who shows up, saying things like “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”
-Agree to teach civics for tea partiers, beginning with a lesson on the connection between government and Medicare.
-Organize a citizenship institute in Hawaii — pointing out that Hawaii is a state — and send modest contributions.
-Write a state-by-state how-to manual on write-in campaigns in case Joe The Plumber tries to unseat someone like Lisa Murkowski in your state.
-Compile and circulate a list of all the good earmark projects, beginning with Kentucky and Mitch McConnell.
-Register voters. Low turnout helps elect former witches, Nazi re-enactors and nominees with baseball bats.
-Establish a website devoted to demonstrating how government can help solve big problems — Romneycare in Massachusetts, for example.
C. Fraser Smith is senior news analyst for WYPR-FM. His column appears Fridays in The Daily Record. His email address is [email protected]