The Tea Party's Got Issues to Work Through - Boy, Do They

Tea Party

Not all people who identify themselves as Tea Partiers are ethnocentric wingnuts who get their information about the world spoon-fed to them by televised talking heads. But apologists for this movement are going to have a hard time explaining away the fact that a sizable minority qualify for that very description.

The latest CBS News/New York Times poll presents a picture of an aging cohort of pessimistic white folks, rattled by economic and cultural changes which have rocked their increasingly Twitter-fied, multicultural and multi-polar world (one led by a charismatic black guy who can swoosh 3 pointers with the best of them.) And their unhappiness with the verdict of the 2008 presidential election has led them down the rabbit hole.

More from the Poll:

Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe
Most Tea Partiers Believe Too Much Made of Problems Facing Blacks
Tea Partiers View Palin, Beck and Bush Favorably
Tea Party Activists Small but Passionate Group
"Birther" Myth Persists Among Tea Partiers, All Americans
Most Tea Party Supporters Say Their Taxes Are Fair

Read the Complete Poll on Who They Are (PDF)
Read the Complete Poll on What They Believe (PDF)

Judge the poll data for yourself but for me the clincher was the birther issue. An astounding thirty percent of the people who identified themselves as tea partiers still believe that President Obama was born in another country, while another 29% still don't know. Don't know? I'm not sure which is worse: being paranoid delusional or potentially paranoid delusional but too lazy to find out the facts.

Everything else flows from this bogus controversy. It so happens that I have it on good authority that the birthers were dropped off on Planet Earth from an asteroid penal colony near the farthest rung of Saturn. Prove it, you say? Au contraire; first they prove they're not from outer space and then perhaps I'll reassess my suspicion. Yes, that's how insane it is.

Some other gems:

  • 75% don't believe that the president shares the values of most Americans. Fascinating. I'd pay money to sit down with these folks to learn more about their belief system. They must think of Obama as something of a cross between Eldridge Cleaver and a Maoist Mao-Mao. As for the over-achieving, doting wife and those ridiculously cute kids? Obvious stage props to divert attention from the revolutionary hordes massing on the other side of the Rio Grande.
  • 88% say the economic stimulus has had no impact on the economy. Two possibilities here. Either they aren't paying attention or they the tea partiers are so ideologically blinkered that it really doesn't matter what the facts are. By any measure except one - jobs - the economy is demonstrably stronger than it was when George W. Bush left the White House. We can argue about economic theory but data remain immune from ideology and they are beyond contestation.
  • 92% say that Obama is moving the country toward socialism. I'll wager two means of production and one Saul Alinsky union card that most of these folks never read Das Kapital and wouldn't know a Hegelian dialectic from the man in the moon. Obama, a bourgeois intellectual who has surrounded himself with mainstays of corporate capitalism, has a plan to take us to the socialist paradise? Yeah, and I suppose the New York Mets are a lock to win the World Series this year.
  • 54% identify as belonging to the GOP while 41% claim to be Independents. Just 5% are Democrats. This isn't surprising. Nor is it any shock to learn that 57% have a favorable view of George W. Bush. It apparently did not register that the Great Recession began under Dubya's watch (as did the haphazard Wall Street bailout.)
  • Asked what they liked least about Obama, 19% simply don't like him. Another 11% say he is turning the U.S. more toward socialism, and 10% mentioned health care reforms. (9% said he was dishonest.) I'm not sure how far to extrapolate but 89% of these folks are white and a majority feel that too much has been made of the problems facing blacks.

At least they're being honest.

  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.