Doubtless the defense here will be that The One wasn’t aware of the sexual connotation and therefore had no idea that the term offends tea partiers. Funny thing, though: Offhand, I can’t recall a single instance of him saying “teabaggers” publicly. Not in speeches, not in interviews, not at town halls, not even at that fundraiser a few weeks ago when he goofed on protesters by saying they should be thanking him for cutting their taxes, i.e. for running up gigantic deficits. If he doesn’t know the term’s impolitic, how come he hasn’t innocently used it on camera yet?
He knows. They all know.
In Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise: President Obama, Year One,” President Obama is quoted in an interview saying that the unanimous vote of House Republicans vote against the stimulus bills “set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”
Tea Party activists loath the term “tea baggers,” which has emerged in liberal media outlets and elsewhere as a method of mocking the activists and their concerns.
How many prominent Democrats, I wonder, have yet to use “teabagger” in one form or another? Kerry and Schumer both used it in fundraising e-mails to appeal to the lefty base before the Massachusetts special election, and we’re bound to hear it again as the rhetoric ratchets way down before the midterms. Can it be that … Joe Biden is the tactful elder statesman on the left these days?
A lot of people are e-mailing to remind me that Obama was blathering about civility just three days ago at the University of Michigan (“You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it”), but the truth is, he’s been blathering about it forever. The only thing more common these days than a liberal screeching about racism or Nazism is The One spouting platitudes about civility without ever calling his side onto the carpet. That’s a nice gig if you can get it.