Karl Rove: The tea party is “not sophisticated” compared to the Reagan Revolution

posted at 7:12 pm on October 19, 2010 by Allahpundit

For some reason, this story made me think of that Politico poll this morning showing widespread skepticism about the tea party among Washington “insiders.” I wonder why.

Seriously, though, with one small exception I think the outrageous outrage about what he said here is overblown. Some people will grumble about it anyway, partly due to lingering resentment over his criticisms of O’Donnell a few weeks ago, but I don’t think he means to be insulting. The gist of what he’s saying is that (a) there are a lot of political newbies in the tea-party movement, which is true, (b) the tea-party movement is notably decentralized, which is also true, and (c) virtually all political movements, including the Civil Rights movement, expect instant change even though politics is more complicated than that. It’s not that tea partiers are “not sophisticated” in the sense that lefty bloggers are, ahem, “not sophisticated” about American history, it’s that they’re not sophisticated when it comes to building well-oiled political organizations. They’re getting there to be sure, but you don’t go from 0 to 90 overnight.

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure. There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

SPIEGEL: Is the Tea Party movement a repeat of the Reagan Revolution?

Rove: It’s a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be. It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution. If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated. It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.

Read the whole interview, as he goes on to defend O’Donnell (er, sort of), calls Obama a centrist only by the standards of European social democracy, and reminds the interviewer that The One wasn’t the only president in recent memory to have his legitimacy questioned by the other party. I don’t know what he’s talking about, though, when he says tea partiers haven’t read Hayek — didn’t they help make “The Road to Serfdom” a bestseller a few months ago after Glenn Beck touted it on his show? — and it’s bizarre that he’d describe the Reagan Revolution as “ideologically motivated and conservative” but not the tea party. I think what he means is that Reaganism was more about a comprehensive conservative policy platform, including social conservatism, whereas the tea party is chiefly (but not entirely) a response to the looming fiscal crisis caused by debt, entitlements, pension obligations, and so forth. In other words, the tea party is a tad narrower in scope (but maybe not for much longer). Argue with that if you like, but I don’t think he means it as an insult.

Update: Actually, maybe his point about Hayek is that there aren’t many tea partiers who have read Hayek’s more nuts-and-bolts economic pieces, only the broader big-think stuff like “Serfdom.” That is to say, whereas the Reagan Revolution had a stable of think-tank eggheads ready to roll out policy ideas, the tea party thus far is an almost entirely grassroots populist phenomenon. I’m not sure that he’s right — the good folks at the Cato Institute would happily lend a hand in a tea-party administration, I assume — but that’s his claim.


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No nuance…no need to be “sophisticated”…we just can’t abide BS…and we’ll call it out whenever and wherever we see it!!!

Word to Karl: Follow us or get out of the way!!!!…Otherwise, you’ll find our footprints all over your suit and tie!

landlines on October 19, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Allah, I was willing to go along with you and cut him some slack until the Hayek comment. F*ck you, Rove: you’re playing along with the media narrative because you don’t want to be seen as stupid. Remember, Bush was an idiot, but Rove was always the evil genius who ran things. That’s quite a coveted status that he won’t give up lightly.

So I reject your attempt to get back in my good graces, sir. You showed your colors with the O’Donnell bashing (and again, it’s not that he disapproved of her, it’s that he did so without discretion, in an excessively vicious attack), and now you think you can praise us out of one side of your mouth and insult us out of the other.

I picked up Anthem, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and The New Left (all by Ayn Rand), The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer, and The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek in late 2008 and early 2009, long before any were mentioned on Beck or other shows. I make no claims to be an intellectual or “sophisticated,” but yes, I’m informed.

Suck it, Rove.

Animator Girl on October 19, 2010 at 9:46 PM

I will not vote for any Presidential candidate with the last name of: Bush, Clinton, Obama.

I’ve had enough of dynasties, slime and insanity, and they each have their own version of those that we get way too much of.

And if Rove is trying to ‘distract’ us from looking at candidates, then he is not out there trying to get this election done and won. Yes he has done a lot for the Tea Parties, but he is also getting in the old politics gaffes which no longer are acceptable in the new era of politics that is arriving. Others are adapting, and he must adapt as well… if Dick Morris can adapt, then surely Rove can too…

ajacksonian on October 19, 2010 at 9:47 PM

You’re sounding like an apologist for Rove these days, AP. He doesn’t know what’s going on with the Tea Party movement because he’s not a part of it. If he was, he would understand that this movement will not be “absorbed” into centrist politics-as-usual. It’s aim is to TAKE OVER the Republican Party, regardless of the political cost or time it takes to get it done.

CliffHanger on October 19, 2010 at 9:48 PM

I wonder what Dick Cheney thinks of this know it all loud mouth clown?

dhunter on October 19, 2010 at 9:56 PM

It’s amazing how people and perceptions can change.
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During the Clinton years, Dick Morris seemed to me to be the creepiest thing on two or four legs.
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Today he is a regular Willaim F. Buckley Jr.
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Hard to have imagined such a thing back then.
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Anyway, god bless R.W.R. , S.P. and all those who understand the founding fathers and the blessings of liberty and freedom.
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esblowfeld on October 19, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Never did see anything remarkable about Rove’s commentary after he fled the Bush White House. The sinister genius Rove was a giant leftie projection — James Carville with an (R).

Of course, Rove was a competent technician for pushing a dynast into the White House. At least Carville was entertaining.

Feedie on October 19, 2010 at 10:29 PM

“If the Republican Party doesn’t embrace the message of the Tea Party … it’s THROUGH!”

~ Sarah Palin

gary4205 on October 19, 2010 at 10:53 PM

I wonder what Dick Cheney thinks of this know it all loud mouth clown?

dhunter on October 19, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Does Karl like duck hunting?

jdkchem on October 19, 2010 at 10:54 PM

Rove doesn’t have to be right but will be as long as the Tea Party thinks mere electoral victory will produce the kind of change it wants. The only way to really effect lasting and significant change is with a constitutional amendment. The Tea Party has the energy now to make something like that happen but won’t later.

edshepp on October 19, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Is this the 357th article in a series entitled; The Rove Rehabilitation Project? Or is it; How To Make RINO Rove Appear To Be A Conservative Through The Magic Of Blogging?

Do you really think we need a translator to tell us what Rove meant to say? This election is not about Rove, much as he and his friends might like it to be, so can we assign him to the dustpan of history and move on now?

Did it ever occur to you that many of the same people who were a part of the Reagan Revolution are now involved in the Tea Party? They are just a bit older now. You’d be surprised at how sophisticated, accomplished, well educated and well read they are and they didn’t have to hitch their wagon to a politician in order to bask in or take credit for someone else’s success. In my opinion, Bush would have succeeded in being elected with or without Rove, he needed Bush more than Bush needed Rove.

Done That on October 20, 2010 at 5:32 AM

Of course it isn’t, Karl. You’re not in control of it, so obviously, us rubes are just blindly groping around in the dark, too stupid to turn on the flashlight without YOU there to show us how it works…/

Note to Karl: When this is over, there’s going to be clear cut winners and clear cut losers.

Choose your side carefully, because the loser camp is going to be a mighty cold place for a guy with so many enemies on the left…

SuperCool on October 20, 2010 at 6:55 AM

Services do NOT create wealth.
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Mining the earth and manufacturing products create wealth, period.
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esblowfeld on October 19, 2010 at 8:05 PM

This is not quite accurate. Some services — hair cutting, lawn mowing, etc. do not create wealth. Others do. For example, analyzing and automating a business process that reduces costs directly creates wealth. Much of the services consulting industry is based on this — the services are used to determine how to make more efficient that mining and manufacturing. And how would you define “inventing”? Or teaching practical skills?

I do agree though that no economy should be totally dependent upon services.

SunSword on October 20, 2010 at 7:17 AM

Good grief. People get spun up about the most ridiculous things. What Rove said was apt, and nearly impossible to twist into some kind of insult.

Murf76 on October 20, 2010 at 7:43 AM

Rove, you were part of the RINO administration that led directly to bigger government and higher government spending – go away.

Over50 on October 20, 2010 at 8:39 AM

This is just MORE ELITIST NONSENSE from a DC insider who fears real conservatives. Karl Rove presided over an evangelical, neo-con administration who expanded government exponentially and spent $5 Trillion. He presided over a new policy of “unitary executive” and “pre-emptive” war–not conservative or Constitutional in any sense of the word. Karl Rove is a despicable traitor who thinks that exposing an undercover intelligence agent, undermining our own intelligence networks around the world, as well as putting them at risk, just to further his own political agenda, is “fair game.” This is a man who is beneath contempt and why he is still a face on “conservative” talk shows and a voice in “conservative” circles is BEYOND ME. When are conservatives going to realize that telling the truth about what Rove/Bush did is the first step toward winning back the country. If the GOP thinks they’re going to be invited to stay in DC, they’d better be honest about the past GOP failures, and determine not to repeat them. We don’t want activist government; we want individual liberty, the rule of law, and freedom from insider DC control over our lives.

mountainaires on October 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM

What a jerk. go away, already.

james23 on October 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM

It’s called “damning with faint praise.” Rove mocks the Tea Party movement and liberals love it. With friends like Rove, who needs enemies?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/20/karl-rove-tea-party-is-no_n_768427.html

mountainaires on October 20, 2010 at 10:05 AM

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove’s response to this should have been “What is too far to the right?” Once you accept the premise, you have already lost the argument.

As for Rove’s political genius–we have him and W. to thank for giving us Obama. Karl Rove is an overrated hack and gives the conservative movement a bad name when those on the left (and right) attach his persona to it. He’s smarmy and a reminder of everything that is wrong w/ the GOP today.

Redneck Woman on October 20, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Not to worry. Sean Hannity still loves his Karl, and Sean swoons over Maverick Senator John.

Mr. Grump on October 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM

As for Rove’s political genius–we have him and W. to thank for giving us Obama. Karl Rove is an overrated hack and gives the conservative movement a bad name when those on the left (and right) attach his persona to it. He’s smarmy and a reminder of everything that is wrong w/ the GOP today.

Redneck Woman on October 20, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Exactly. I am sick and tired of seeing his fat face on the television. Why do they go to the man who destroyed the Republican brand for insights into that party (and a movement that sprung from visceral disagreements with his style of governing)? He should just fade away.

halfastro on October 20, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Hey Rove and other Country Clubbers:

SFW.

Get ready to be displaced and rolled over as any kind of pundit or spokesman. Take your whiteboard and shove it.

jfshaughnessy on October 20, 2010 at 10:54 AM

I’ve read Hayek, read it years and years ago. I’ve handed out about 30 copies as gifts to political compatriots, friends and family in the last 6 months and plan to gift another 40-60 copies as gifts this holiday season.

Copies are available for $8.72 on amazon right now, here’s a link.

http://amzn.to/diuBGO

Jason Coleman on October 20, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Animator Girl on October 19, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Great comment.

An Objectivist on October 20, 2010 at 11:28 AM

I can’t grasp the outrage. Of course some who consider themselves Tea Partiers have read Hayek, but I think it’s obvious many have not. The notion that the movement itself is some deeply intellectual revolution is absurd. While the objectives of the movement are certainly consistent with classically liberal economic theory, the motives of most Americans who are currently revolting against the Democrat totalitarian movement–including, I submit, most who identify with the Tea Party–are not rooted in intellectualism but rather simple common sense: Spending like a lunatic while in debt is bad, the government buying crappy car companies with tax dollars is a losing investment, national bankruptcy sounds like a bad possibility, the job market remains in shambles despite two years of failed leftist policies, etc. Simply put, it does not require an intellectual to see the Democrats have launched the nation on a disastrous path (indeed, at this stage only an “intellectual” could engage in the rhetorical contortions required to attempt to claim otherwise).

None of what Rove said is inaccurate, nor is any of it even negative. Those who espouse outrage at his statements are both seeking to be outraged, and, worse, are making the grim mistake of failing to recognize their friends (a flaw particularly common, I know from personal experience on both sides of the divide, of Objectivists). Neither proclivity serves one well.

Blacklake on October 20, 2010 at 11:39 AM

The notion that the movement itself is some deeply intellectual revolution is absurd

I would say that the tea party movement is one of the MORE INTELLECTUAL movements that has come along.

The Greens – can lies be intellectual?

Gay Marriage – seems more emotional than intellectual

Abortion – more about religion and philosophy than intellectual problem solving

The tea party movement is one of the few times I’ve seen the electorate actually wake up and take a look at what is happening in Washington and around the country and actually look for solutions to the problem rather than fringe emotional appeals to steal the debate and cover the problems.

2010 is going to be one of the “more intellectual” elections we’ve had. This election is about governance and the shape and form of it. That’s pretty high intellectual there.

We could go back and continue to argue about gay marriage, snail darters, manger scenes at city hall and aqua buddha, but I’d rather chop big government at the knees, or neck.

The tea party is reading alot more intellectual material than the MoveOn kids did.

Jason Coleman on October 20, 2010 at 11:58 AM

We will have a Third Party.

joshlbetts on October 20, 2010 at 11:58 AM

I am not even going to read what he has to say. I don’t even really like Palin. I do not think she is qualified to be President……………but, the movement is right. Moe Tucker of The Velvet Underground is a follower of the Tea Party. Now that is a shocker. Read what she has to say:

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/atoz/2010/10/moe_tucker_interview_2010_politics_tea_party_velvet_underground_video.php

SC.Charlie on October 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure.

That’s as far as I had to read.

labrat on October 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM

We will have a Third Party.

– joshlbetts on October 20, 2010 at 11:58 AM

I pray not. All what we need to do is downsize, government and, yet, make it more effective in doing what it should be doing.

SC.Charlie on October 20, 2010 at 12:08 PM

It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.

I won’t repeat the profanity-laced response which came out of my mouth upon reading that. I have an image to uphold. :)

We peasants have these things called libraries, bookstores and wifi, Karl.

Jackass.

baldilocks on October 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Uh the Tea Party brought us Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle…I think I agree with Karl.

terryannonline on October 19, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Karl Rove brought us 2006 & 2008… and deficits and a new entitlement and “compassionate conservatism”…

I’ll take COD and Angle along with the myriads of other Tea Party candidates.

mankai on October 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM

I recently had to go to the hospital. I checked myself into an Urgent Care satellite office of a major hospital. I had a ride. Yet, I was forced to take an ambulance to the main hospital. And, I was not in any immediate danger. I would have been willing to sign a release accepting my responsibility. But none existed.

SC.Charlie on October 20, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Karl Rove brought us 2006 & 2008… and deficits and a new entitlement and “compassionate conservatism”…

I’ll take COD and Angle along with the myriads of other Tea Party candidates.

mankai on October 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM

don’t forget the 2006 Amnesty cramdown, that was his baby, too. If the GOP had any sense, they’d give Rove a long term assignment in Zimbabwe or New Zealand. All he can do is more harm to the GOP “brand,” or what is left of it. Not that I particularly care about the GOP’s survival.

james23 on October 20, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Rove was largely out of the election game in 2006 and even more so in 2008.

I would posit that it was anti-Rove’s that gave us McCain and the 2008 election.

Jason Coleman on October 20, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Sometimes simplicity is best. No need to over complicate things.

ReneePA on October 20, 2010 at 1:16 PM

It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.

Really? So, Karl, who is it that’s buying up all those copies of von Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”?

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Doctrines > Marxism
#1 in Books > Business & Investing > Economics > Economic Policy & Development
#1 in Books > Business & Investing > Economics > Theory

It must be some other movement driving the sales up.

AP, while what Rove said was factually incorrect, it didn’t sound like he was denigrating the grassroots movement. In fact, it looks as if he’s defending it as an anti-elite group.

“Sophisticated” in this context is a pejorative.

Why do you want us to hate on Karl? You don’t? Maybe you should ask someone else to read the headlines before they go up.

applebutter on October 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM

AP, while what Rove said was factually incorrect, it didn’t sound like he was denigrating the grassroots movement. In fact, it looks as if he’s defending it as an anti-elite group.

As little lost children who are angry but don’t really know why….

Condescension is much worse than denigration.

baldilocks on October 20, 2010 at 1:41 PM

“Sophisticated comprehensive immigration reform”??

“We don’t need no sophisticated comprehensive immigration reform, you cow dung pile.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turd_Blossom

fred5678 on October 20, 2010 at 2:13 PM

More elitism from the ruling class. This observation is correct and welcome as Hades. This is god evidence that the little guy is finally taking control of the elections in this nation and away from those professional manipulators that have so fouled it up. This can only be good news. Like rain on your picnic -it makes the crops grow and fills the reservoirs too – so it isn’t fair to Karl’s picnic plans -tough nuggies Karl.

Don L on October 20, 2010 at 2:27 PM

I have a problem with the initial question of whether he can intrigrate the Tea Partiers without moving the Republican party too far to the right. That is really the whole problem isn’t it? The Tea Partiers wants the Republican party to embrace Conservative values, and many of the Republican leadership wants to move in a Progressive, Large/Global Government, socially liberal that favors the political elite. Rove seems to have the same problem as McCain, Lindsey Graham and other RINO’s. I think that Rove is a smart man, but like most politicians I wouldn’t trust him to run my family or the nations future. President Reagan had it right when he said “Trust but Verify” this applies too politicians also.

SGinNC on October 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Glenn Reynolds has a good take on a lot of this. We have credentialed people who are good at one thing but are by no means well rounded or well educated.On the other hand the Tea Party has a lot of wide experience“COMMON SENSE” and can spot beltway BS 500 Yards out.
Tea Party folks want a government that works,literally and we know that we are in this for the long haul,wishing the Tea Party will go away after the election is whistlin’ past the tombstones.

Col.John Wm. Reed on October 20, 2010 at 4:39 PM

I am a proud libertarian-conservative, but if the Tea Party are rubes, and the Reagan Revolution was sophisticated, than I’ll take the Tea Party, as the Reagan Revolution ultimately failed in Reagan’s own self-description.

To paraphrase, Reagan, said it was easier to defeat the Soviet Union, than cut the size and scope of government. The book, “Never Enough”, gave me palpitations from anger, since Reagan and the Gingrich Congress were the only two eras with government spending kept to a crawl (but still growth). I wish the Gipper were here today because he would welcome the Tea Party within his small government vision. I hope these Congressional Repubicans take heed, get a back bone, and oppose the President in his statist goals.

sDs61678 on October 20, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Good grief. People get spun up about the most ridiculous things. What Rove said was apt, and nearly impossible to twist into some kind of insult.
Murf76 on October 20, 2010 at 7:43 AM

Unfortunately, it wasn’t impossible for some insecure, excessively angry people on the Right with inferiority complexes!

None of what Rove said is inaccurate, nor is any of it even negative. Those who espouse outrage at his statements are both seeking to be outraged, and, worse, are making the grim mistake of failing to recognize their friends (a flaw particularly common, I know from personal experience on both sides of the divide, of Objectivists). Neither proclivity serves one well.

Blacklake on October 20, 2010 at 11:39 AM

How could someone really be a friend of True Conservatives if they’ve expressed any criticism of them? Why don’t you see that Tokyo Rove is an elitest plant from within the Beltway, attempting to subvert the Tea Party movement? If you can’t see this, you clearly are a RINO!

Bizarro No. 1 on October 20, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Rove= Reagan Snob.

I still like Rove though.

jawkneemusic on October 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Rove still has not got it thru his thick skull.

Last night even Bill O seemed to be starting to think, trying to learn. Time will tell on Bill, he is slow.

allrsn on October 20, 2010 at 9:50 PM

jawkneemusic on October 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM

True I still respect Rove, maybe he will learn that our children and grandchildren are a part of the tea party and are learning what is going on and why.

allrsn on October 20, 2010 at 9:52 PM

They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

Rove is part right and part wrong here. The most fervent Tea Partiers who have read the Constitution know that legislative (law-making) power is vested in Congress, and only a third of the Senate can be changed in any one election, and bills vetoed by a President can only be forced into law by a 2/3 vote of both houses, which will be HIGHLY UNLIKELY in 2011-2012, no matter how many Tea Party candidates win election in 2010.

This has to be a two-election process–take the House and split the Senate in 2010 to slam the brakes on Obama’s socialist agenda, then take the Senate and White House in 2012 to repeal and reverse it. Two elections to undo two elections: 2010 to undo 2006, and 2012 to undo 2008.

There may be some frustration in 2011-12 while Tea Partiers elected to Congress struggle to make their voices heard in Congress, and might have to settle for watered-down compromises, because they don’t have the votes to force their will on Senate Democrats and Obama. Rove is right about this–change will be incremental.

But what did Rove & Co. do after the victory in 2004, with Bush re-elected and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress? They bungled immigration reform. They bungled the response to Katrina. They bungled the war in Iraq. They cozied up to K street instead of Main Street, which led to disaster in 2006 and 2008.

Let Rove help conservatives take back the House this year, and the Senate and White House in 2012–Rove is good at winning elections, but not governing. If Republicans sweep in 2012, Rove should stay out of the way, and let the new President and Congress GET IT RIGHT the next time!

Steve Z on October 21, 2010 at 11:47 AM

It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek

No, but most of us have been around the block a time or two and know if we spend more than we make then we have to get a second job. If the government spends more than it takes in then we have to get a third job and I’m too damn old.

Herb on October 21, 2010 at 12:35 PM

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