The Washington Times recently used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain letters sent to the USDA by numerous Republican lawmakers seeking stimulus money for their constituents. All of these Republicans had publicly criticized the stimulus and voted against it.
Georgia Rep. John Linder wrote on his website in October that recent unemployment figures “only reinforce the fact that the $787 billion ‘stimulus’ signed into law eight months ago has done nothing for job growth in this country.” But just two weeks earlier the congressman had sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack on behalf of a foundation in his district seeking stimulus funds in which he claimed “the employment opportunities created by this [foundation’s] program would be quickly utilized.”
“We know their endeavor will provide jobs and investment in one of the poorer sections of the Congressional District.”
The quality that gives the Tea Party movement its legitimacy is that it is so fundamentally illegitimate: outside the establishment, bereft of representation on K Street, and without an identifiable face to speak for it on Meet the Press. This is a movement that sprang deep from within the viscera of America, not from some political poll or focus group.
It is not Republican; it is not even conservative. It has no interest in debating the merits of No Child Left Behind, abstinence-only sex education or George W. Bush’s rationale for going to Iraq. Replacing a “spend and borrow” Democrat with a “spend and borrow” Republican is not the goal of the Tea Party movement.
This movement is simply saying: “We are fine without you, Washington. Now for the love of God, go attend a reception somewhere, and stop making health care and entrepreneurship more expensive than they already are.”
I hope John’s right because if the movement allows itself to become entangled with the same party that publicly eschews big government stimulus while groveling behind the scenes for a piece of it, the [tea] party will be over.