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1. So I talked to and listened to part of a good presentation by local TEA PARTY people last night. They mostly seemed to be from a conservative, Christian, home schooling background. (There definitely is nothing wrong with that.) But they talked nothing but economics—against bailouts and being stimulated, against the fiscal disaster that ObamaCare will be, for the “fair tax,” against the tax burden that are the children of illegal immigrants, and against the huge debt given us by the combo of Bush and Obama. There was a little about the danger of Islamic Jihad, and so no criticism of military spending. They definitely aren’t “lifestyle” libertarians or even Randians. They’re all about the small businessperson and not about the “heroic entrepreneur.” From their “Main Street” (well, in Rome, GA, Broad Street) view, Wall Street is in bed with the Democrats.

2. The smart and eloquent student who framed the whole TEA PARTY phenomenon for the audience was perfectly right that these people are a largely admirable example of democracy in action, of genuine “civic engagement” at the local level. It’s easy for pointy-headed professors (like me) to question their grasp of the facts and all that. But who can deny that they’re trying to inform themselves and make issue-based cases at every public forum made available to them?

3. These TEA PARTY people really do revel in their success in defeating establishment Republicans in primaries. I expressed my concern to one of them about Christine O’Donnell, who really does seem to be sort of nuts. The response was: Isn’t it great that we might be able to get even her elected (she is closing a bit on her flaky Marxist opponent—what a choice they have in Delaware!)? And she will vote right every time (whereas Castle would have only about half the time). Who can deny that the TEA PARTY decision to work within the confines of one of our two major parties is the correct one? The problem with insurgent candidates is that they’re rarely properly vetted, but their victories do expose the decadence of the party organization.

4. So I asked a TEA PARTY guy about the prudence of nominating Sara Palin just to prove “we can do it.” He said that he was actually for New Jersey’s Chris Christie, whom he regards as basically elected by TEA PARTY efforts. I said, more or less, that’s the ticket: You don’t want to portray Obama as evil incarnate, but mostly as pretty incompetent. The election needs to turn, as they say, on both COMPETENCE and IDEOLOGY. The Republicans have successful Governors from which to choose: Christie, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney. They all have downsides, of course: too fat (and too new) or too short or sounds too much like Mr. Rogers or too flip-floppy and too perfect. But each of them has great promise, in my opinion. (Pawlenty, someone might ask!? Didn’t seem that successful to me, I answer. Huckabee!? He’s an entertainer now. Or even Palin!? She neglected to finish her term.)

5. I actually watched about 20 minutes of Glenn Beck at 3 a.m. He began by babbling at some length about fact and opinion and critical thinking as a way of suggesting that Obama is about imposing a radical socialist or even communist agenda on America. Dinesh D’Souza was the guest, and his pretty personal book about the president—which I haven’t read but sounds good—was (by Glenn) being given a conspiratorial spin not intended by Dinesh. I have to admit I stopped watching before Dinesh (who is always worth hearing) said much, because Glenn was interrupting too much. Isn’t it enough to say that the fairly standard liberal policies of the president are unsustainable these days and being implemented incompetently?It’s hard to say there’s a secret conspiracy when he’s pretty much doing what he said he would do during his campaign. And our Constitution will survive Obama.

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