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Tea Party activist Barry Spinka attends a rally in support of the state's Senate Bill 1070 immigration law in Phoenix, Arizona April 25, 2012. Several Supreme Court justices on Wednesday voiced support for Arizona's effort to crack down on illegal immigration, appearing to reject Obama administration arguments that the federal government has sole responsibility for dealing with people who illegally enter the United States. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION POLITICS) - RTR317QS
'An intellectual movement'
Yesterday the Tea Party Patriots had their big five-year anniversary bash. Five years of people dressing up in period costume and wearing strange things on their head—shall we take a peek at the celebration?

Rand Paul had a message for the troops: Try to be less crazy. Or be crazy, but let's be more polite about it:

“There are times, and I don’t think it is our movement, but there are times when people are using language that shouldn’t be used,” he said. “I recently criticized someone for using some of that language. I’m not going to bring it up, but I will say, we can disagree with the president without calling him names.”
Yeah, good luck with that. Good luck with this, too:
Many speakers also hit back against the charge that the tea party has racist elements - a charge that has been consistently and vehemently denied by activists in the movement.
If your anniversary commemoration needs to be punctuated by repeated assertions that you're not racists, you're probably doing something wrong. More, below the fold.

Another prominent anniversary assertion is that the tea party is a movement of intellectuals, and I'm gonna just leave this right here:

"The rise of the tea party movement is the most important development in politics since the advent of the Reagan Democrat," Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told the Washington Times. He added:

"Today, the American tea party represents the intellectualism of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan. These men believed in the citizenry and not the state . . . The intellectuals of the American tea party don't confuse sophistication with intellectualism. They know better even if the elites do not. The tea party also knows that it is impractical, indeed anti-intellectual, to try to govern this vast and diverse country from one corrupt city by the Potomac River."

You're not going to convince me the people tying bags to their heads and holding up signs pertaining to the latest fads in conspiracy theories are intellectuals. Hell, you're not going to convince me that that sentence is intellectual. Nobody will be pointing to the works of one Ronald Wilson Reagan (not his speechwriters) in centuries hence alongside the works of Paine or Jefferson. Unless there's some some gripping unpublished Reagan treatise yet to be found in one of ye olde rented storage lockers, nobody will be able to even name one.

But let us hear from one of the most prominent current movement intellectuals, one Michele Bachmann:

In a speech filled with digs at President Obama and other Democratic leaders, Bachmann drew laughter and applause from a less-than-packed ballroom at a Capitol Hill hotel this morning.

“The tea party movement at its core is an intellectual movement,” Bachmann said. “These are ideas that I would put up against any ideas in the world.”

Would that be the ideas from the guy with the Obama-as-Marxist T-shirt, or the ideas from the Reagan worshippers certain that a security failure in Benghazi is evidence of the worstest national security failure since we-can't-think-of-any-other-national-security-failures? No, we surely mean the base—the people who suddenly discovered the federal budget deficit ten minutes after their previous greatest intellectual ever finally got the last of his boxes out of the Oval Office and proudly flew off to strictly enforced movement anonymity. Bachmann, though, is relentless:
“I know that we have the intellectual ballast, I know we have the fortitude and I know we have the energy to make it all happen. It’s up to us. Let’s take the challenge and get it done.”
Ballast, noun: useless, worthless crap moved into an otherwise empty vessel in order to stabilize it just enough to reach a new port where it will pick up actual, paying cargo. Probably not the best choice of words. Then she went on to remind the audience of the terrible scandal of the IRS thinking the tea party might be a political organization and not a charitable one, because intellectualism.

I do not think we will be hearing much from the tea party on their tenth anniversary, or their twentieth, so this is probably as good as it's going to get. Wrecking the government as political statement has lost a bit of its luster, and the budget deficit as national crisis will last exactly until the Republican Party retakes the Senate or the White House, whichever comes first, suddenly disappearing again the moment we have a new tax cut to push or a new war to fight. As of yet, we have had more racists rise from the tea party movement than intellectuals, although there may still be hope that a future National Review might arise from the mess in a longer-lasting effort to combine both. In the meantime, enjoy your Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann.

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