From The New York Times:
On a day when the government deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations over the sagging economy and ride a metaphor two centuries in the making, 773 Tax Day tea parties were scheduled in cities from Boston to Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., to Yakima, Wash., to protest government spending — namely the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and $3 trillion budget.
Although organizers insisted they had created a non-partisan grassroots movement, it was argued by others that these parties were more of the synthetic “Game Day Grass” variety, since the occasion was largely created by the clamor of cable news and fueled with the financial and political support of current and former Republican leaders.
Fox News was covering the events and streaming live video as its own commentators Neil Cavuto and Michelle Malkin were headlining the protests in Sacramento, Sean Hannity appeared in Atlanta, and Newt Gingrich showed up at City Hall Park in New York. The web site TaxDayTeaParty.com listed its sponsors, which ranged from FreedomWorks, founded by former House Majority Leader, Dick Armey (R-Texas), Top Conservatives on Twitter, to RNC Radio.com, to the book from Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina, “Saving Freedom,” giving his “firsthand account of the unsettling socialist shift.”
“Our main goal as far as a national organization — although that’s a tough term to use since we wish we were organized better than we were — is just to facilitate an environment where a new movement would be born,” Eric Odom, the administrator of TaxDayTeaParty.com, said in a brief interview on Wednesday morning.
But it was hard to determine from the modest turnouts by mid-day (especially in the rain-soaked East) just how effective they would be. In Boston, which held its protest in Boston Common, near the State House, about 500 people showed up, fewer than the 1,500 that had responded on the internet.
Curiously, the only organization in Boston re-enacting the original tea party — the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender group — was not associated with the partisan movement. But instead of tossing tea bags overboard, it planned to dump federal tax forms into the harbor on Wednesday night to protest the unequal tax treatment of married same-sex couples.
In Massachusetts — one of three states where same-sex marriage is legal — married couples still have to file individual tax returns.
Of course, when the small band of colonists dressed as Indians and dumped tea in Boston Harbor in 1773 to protest King George’s import tax and imperial government, that movement led to independence.
All of these tax day parties seemed less about revolution and more about group therapy. At least with the more widely known protest against government spending, people attending the rallies were dressed patriotically and held signs expressing their anger, but offering no solutions.
While conservatives staged tea parties, President Obama marked the April 15 tax-filing deadline by ignoring his critics and instead delivering a sales pitch for what he called “the most progressive tax cut in American history.”
The president emphasized how his tax plan was designed to help middle-class families. While he acknowledged that April 15 “is not exactly everyone’s favorite date on the calendar,” he reassured Americans that he cut taxes for 95 percent of the nation’s workers, supported the reduction of tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of the population, as well as offered tax credits for first-time homeowners.
For his part, Mr. Odom insisted that Mr. Obama was not the focus of the outrage, and that government in general was the target.
“This is a protest that has been in government the last few years,” he said. “Bush himself was guilty of socialist policies.”
Yet GOP.com featured the Tax Day Tea Party on its web site in the last two days and implored people to send virtual tea-bags (in four categories) to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid.
And what would a conservative media event be these days without Joe the Plumber, otherwise known as Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher?
In addition to Fox News’s coverage, Pajamas TV — the same network that sent him to Israel — was covering the events across the nation on the internet. Mr. Wurzelbacher, a non-licensed plumber who virtually became the mascot of the McCain-Palin campaign, was the keynote speaker outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., where the local newspaper said he attracted thousands.
A tip of the hat to LaughingPlanet for the movie suggestion!