A Rally's Mean Streak

An actual tea party is supposed to be a cordial, civilized affair but as more details emerge about Sunday’s “Cincinnati Tea Party,” it’s clear that some attendees need a lesson in manners.—-

Instead of the political protest remaining focused on substantive policy issues, many in the crowd at Fountain Square revealed their true colors through their obnoxious behavior. One such incident involved the racially tinged mistreatment of a black woman who supported President Obama.

Here’s how The Cincinnati Enquirer described the incident in a single, sanitized sentence from a front page article on the event published Monday: “A lone Obama supporter made her way through the edge of the gated area, shouting ‘O-bam-a’ to jeers from the crowd.”

What really happened, however, was much uglier and crystallizes why more and more American voters are turned off by the divisive, “me first” attitude of many conservative Republicans.

Among a predominantly white crowd that carried signs displaying slogans of aggrieved privilege like, “Honk if I’m paying your mortgage,” was a middle-aged African-American woman waving an Obama flag. As expected, many attendees began heckling her but what was surprising was the openly racist nature of their comments, according to several people who witnessed the encounter.

A crowd formed around the woman, yelling in unison the word, “sucks,” each time she chanted Obama’s name. No biggie. But when that didn’t discourage her, a white woman in her 40s began following along behind her shouting “Wel-fare mom! Wel-fare mom!”

The ugliness didn’t end there. A young white man held up a poster depicting the U.S. presidents except Obama, as he gleefully noted to the sole dissenter. He then told her, “Let me borrow your flag for a minute. I want to wipe my ass with it.”

Others in the crowd chanted, “get a job,” as the black woman began to leave.

Cincinnati Police who were on hand to provide security did nothing. Enquirer readers wouldn’t know about any of this because the incident was whitewashed by the city’s newspaper of record.

The shameful behavior was in addition to parts of the crowd who physically threatened TV news crews on hand to cover the event, an incident also not mentioned by The Enquirer. The crews scurried toward police for protection.

Regardless of all the hate, the rally’s very premise was built on lies.

Part of a nationwide effort, the rally was designed to protest the $787 billion economic stimulus plan and Obama’s $75 billion mortgage relief program. Participants were galvanized by news that AIG handed out millions of dollars in employee bonuses after getting a multibillion-dollar bailout from the government.

Congressional Democrats wanted to include limits on executive compensation in the stimulus bill, but Republicans — led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — insisted it be removed.

Also, the economic meltdown largely occurred because of the GOP’s dislike of any regulation on the private sector. As then-presidential candidate John McCain said in a March 2008 speech, ““Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments.”

Yeah, how did that work out for you so far?

McClatchy Newspapers recently reported the National Republican Congressional Committee is sending out video “trackers” to ask provocative questions of Democratic members of Congress, for use in campaign ads. Instead of wasting time and money on “gotcha” campaigning, the party should focus on developing a coherent, positive agenda for the future.

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