That in itself is fine. The Tea Party movement has caught on for a reason, and it's good to see a grassroots groundswell of discontent over the issue of health care reform; regardless of your political stripe, it's good to see citizens concerned over actual political issues of the day.
The problem, it seems, is the snowball effect. What started out as a protest against a bad plan for universal health coverage has picked up other causes as it rolled along, and what could have been a bloc of citizens taking a principled stand has degenerated into the same sad "Birther" populism that is gnawing at the soul of the GOP.
First there is this, regarding the looming specter of Obama's planned speech to schoolchildren:
“Stay away from my children,” one mother shouted so loud that Roberts had her come to the stage and repeat for the crowd. The Patriots went absolutely nuts.
OK. Well. I'll grant that I have some reservations about the speech, mostly given the timing of it; but it's well worth noting that the President will not be addressing health care in the speech, and is not the first to have pulled something like this. Meanwhile, some suburban mom has just tarred the entire movement as a bunch of crazy, at least borderline racists who think that the bogeyman President is going to reach through the TV to do physical harm to her children. Had the parties been reversed, this lady -- and the crowd of "Patriots" who "went absolutely nuts" (one assumes it was a supportive kind of nuttiness, though one suspects that the crowd was actually just a bit unhinged generally) -- would have been rightfully tarred a victim of the ever-charming "Bush derangement syndrome".
But it gets better. Because it gets Godwin-ed -- well, almost:
One of the first concerned participants had more of a warning story to tell. “I was in Shanghai, China in 1943 when the Japanese invasion began. I was 12-years old when they took me to a concentration camp,” she explained. “I lost my freedom and I feel like I’m losing my freedom again.” Again the crowd erupted in cheers.
Maybe it was too much to hope that a responsible figure would stand up to be the figurehead of this movement -- say, a Paul Ryan, maybe. Instead, what could have been a principled and intellectual moment returns me to the sad question: does the GOP really want a Buckley any more?