Robert Knight

Gone was the officious, cattle-prod attitude. Instead, the agents patted children on the head (just on the head!) and exchanged friendly greetings. At least, they did so at Washington Dulles and in Fort Lauderdale. Plus, the full-body scan machines went unused. We all sailed through the usual magnetic scanners, past smiling TSA agents. God bless them, because they do have an unenviable job. It’s like being a hockey goalie. You can play well the entire game, but if you let the game-winning puck go through, you’re the goat, and in this case, the stakes are astronomically higher.

But getting back to the Tea Party, something is in the air, and it’s not a taste for more liberal government.

Even if the AP poll is accurate, and the Tea Party crowd is more adamant than other Americans about rejecting Obama Nation, it should not bring liberals any solace. People who are politically active are naturally more energized and motivated than other citizens. And it takes only a highly motivated minority to shift political tectonic plates.

Largely out of step with America, liberals have enjoyed decades of success because the liberal media have kept the spotlight off their prevarications and policy failures. But the new media have changed that.

Now, when you hear The New York Times or CBS touting “research” showing that global warming causes hair loss, herpes, and acid rain in the Sahara, you can check out other sources.

Similarly, you can take with a grain of salt the AP story’s predictable warning that the Republicans had better listen to Democratic strategists if they know what’s good for them. Okay, they didn’t put it that way, but there was huffing and puffing about the danger of alienating “moderates,” accompanied by quotes like this:

“The House and Senate Republican leadership are playing a very dangerous game by appearing to embrace proposals that many Americans consider outside the mainstream,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who was narrowly re-elected over tea party favorite Sharron Angle.”

Who would have thought that slot machines could dispense filled-out ballots just in time for the final count in Vegas? Sorry. Who knows how Harry Reid managed to win after trailing in the polls consistently just before the election. Maybe it was all on the up and up.

And maybe it’s for the best to have Sen. Reid around to continue to disparage Tea Party Americans as “outside the mainstream” and even “extreme.”

He and the liberal media are making those terms badges of honor. But that leaves us with a problem. What do we call the real extremists?

You know, the ones who want a confiscatory death tax that seizes 55 percent of a business that the founder spent a lifetime creating? Or the folks who think carbon dioxide, the very breath we exhale, is a dangerous pollutant?

For now, let’s skip the term “progressives” and go back to the old reliable: liberals.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.