"Hello, fellow racists."
That's how I greeted the gathering at the Tax Day Tea Party rally in Sacramento, Calif. Several people dropped their hoods and sheets in laughter. After a thorough search, I can report that I detected no secret handshake, security guards or minority-sniffing German shepherds to alert blacks that our presence was unwanted.
An MSNBC reporter at another Tea Party rally actually asked a black man whether he "felt uncomfortable." "No," he laughed. "No, these are my people -- Americans." The man appeared far too polite to ask, "You ever felt uncomfortable working for MSNBC?" I once appeared on a television show where a black pundit accused former President Ronald Reagan of racism. When I asked for proof, he said that Reagan "was uncomfortable around black people." I replied, "I'm uncomfortable around you. What does that make me?" So in the black tea partier's case, his presumed discomfort around whites made them racist. In Reagan's case, his presumed discomfort around blacks made him one. It does get confusing.
A more serious criticism of the Tea Party movement goes like this: When George W. Bush and the Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Oval Office, where were the complaints about spending?
One TP critic put it this way: "During these Tea Party protests conservatives are showing why the word 'hypocrite' should be part of the dictionary definition of conservative. They said nothing and did nothing while Bush and the Republican Congress were getting the country into deeper and deeper trouble. The conservatives who organize the Tea Party protests sat on their hands and did nothing. They did nothing when the balanced budget was destroyed, nothing when Bush exploded the deficit, nothing when Bush cut taxes instead of raising them to pay for the war he started."
As to Bush's non-defense, non-homeland security domestic spending, people did complain -- lots of them and frequently. Why isn't this more widely recognized? When a conservative criticizes Rush Limbaugh, that's news. The left hates Limbaugh. When a conservative criticizes Bush's spending, that's not news. The left loves domestic spending. For liberals, Bush's No Child Left Behind program "wasn't fully funded." The prescription bill for seniors contained a "doughnut hole," which made it insufficiently generous.