Conservatives are pouncing on President Obama for using what they say is a pejorative expression for the Tea Party movement.
In a new book by Jonathan Alter, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Mr. Obama is quoted as saying that House Republicans' unanimous vote against the stimulus package "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."
John Kartch of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform calls the term "tea baggers" "obscene and derogatory" and points out that in a commencement speech at the University of Michigan delivered just days ago, the president called for "a basic level of civility" in public discourse.
"It is insulting to have him lecture on civility while being the least civil participant," Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist is quoted as saying. "Obama, get out of the gutter, wash your mouth out with soap and grow up."
Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin bemoans the "vulgarity-clogged" White House, while blogger "Allahpundit" at the conservative website Hot Air writes that Mr. Obama must be aware the term is a crude sexual reference, since he has never used it publicly.
Liberal bloggers, however, are pointing out that the term actually emerged from the Tea Party movement itself. David Weigel of the Washington Post points to his past reporting, which provides evidence of Tea Partiers embracing the term.
The left-leaning Talking Points Memo points to an article from the conservative National Review, which details how Tea Partiers sent members of Congress tea bags on April 15, 2009 and embraced the term "tea bagging" before it was seized on by liberals poking fun at the movement.