“It’s deja vu all over again...”
Ever since 2009, political junkies have turned their attentions outside the Beltway each August, watching to see whether conservative voters would return to the outrageous town hall antics that made the Tea Party famous four years ago.
But each year it’s become harder and harder to say that the crowds are as large or rowdy as they were back then, or that a counter-movement must be right around the corner. Part of it is just that elected officials got wise and stopped doing regular, publicized town halls. But mainly it’s just that a series of developments — the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP takeover of the House, the Supreme Court decision to uphold the healthcare law, President Obama’s reelection — have each sucked some of the ants out of Tea Partyer pantaloons.
On its surface, this August is no exception. At least, so far. If we assume that Democrats and their allies have scattered their trackers across the country to film as many of this month’s GOP town halls as possible, then last week was a dud by 2009 standards. But several revealing, newsworthy developments occurred this August, all of which point to a depressing fact. Tea Partyers might for the most part be done rallying and heckling politicians, but they still wield enough influence on the right to intimidate Republican officials into validating the same old unsavory claims and arguments that drove Tea Party and GOP approval ratings through the floor in Obama’s first term.
In three town halls this August, members confronted by birthers have been cowed into tacitly validating the idea that Obama isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., explained his reasoning to voters stream-of-conscious style early this month by positing that the question might be a “distraction” while agreeing to co-sponsor legislation authored by Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, to investigate the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.
The liberal website ThinkProgress caught Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., telling a birther, “I believe what you’re saying and I don’t support this president whatsoever. But ma’am, we lost Nov. 6. We had the opportunity to get another president in there.”
Mullen’s spokeswoman later told TPM that he simply misspoke. But even if he didn’t mean to say he “agree[d]” with a birther, his suggestion that Obama’s birthplace is a question for the electorate to answer was a pander when what’s needed was some real talk.
Then most recently, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told one clearly deflated birther, “I think, unfortunately, the horse is already out of the barn on this, on the whole birth certificate issue. The original Congress, when his eligibility came up, should have looked into it and it didn’t. I’m not sure how we fix it.”
- A new House Birther takes the stage: Rep. Markwayne Mullin, c’mon down (dailykos.com)
- A birther invades an Oklahoma town hall (brobrubel.wordpress.com)
- GOP Rep. to ‘birther princess': ‘I don’t even give a sh*t’ about Obama’s birth certificate (rawstory.com)
- What Prompted GOP Rep. To Tell Town Hall ‘I Don’t Give A Sh*t’? (mediaite.com)
- GOP Rep. backs birther investigation in hopes of invalidating laws under Obama (thehill.com)
- They’re Baaaack! (thinkprogress.org)
- Congressman Markwayne Mullin’s Town Hall “Birther Princess” Exposed (theokieblaze.com)