The big liberal blogs have been all over the story all day. Daily Kos provides a comparison with the original. TPM has a great photo gallery of some of the protests. HuffPost had several posts.
The point of all these is to protest taxes and the government in general and Obama. From some of the pictures, these protests attracted a fair people from the fringe of the radical right.
Andrew Sullivan tried to take these protesters seriously. He linked to an incredibly cool graphic of exactly how and on what the federal government spends money. He summed up the salient point well:
it seems odd to describe this as anything but a first stab at creating opposition to the Obama administration's spending plans, manned by people who made no serious objections to George W. Bush's.It's almost trivial to describe these protesters as whackjobs. Obama is a fascist/socialist? Huh? There were people on the left who used that kind of language to describe Bush. Both Bushes. And they were ignored, particularly the second time around, even though W. was a much worse president than his father. They were ignored because the vast majority of liberals and Democrats - the 99% who are sane, rational people - realized that the crazies tainted the movement. Apparently the right did not learn this lesson.
. . .
All protests against spending that do not tell us how to reduce it are fatuous pieces of theater, not constructive acts of politics. And until the right is able to make a constructive and specific argument about how they intend to reduce spending and debt and borrowing, they deserve to be dismissed as performance artists in a desperate search for coherence in an age that has left them bewilderingly behind.
I'm going to imagine for a moment that these folks are serious about cutting spending. Where have they been for the last 8 years? One of the largest items in the budget is interest on the debt. At the end of the Clinton administration, we were running a surplus. If we had kept doing that, we would have eliminated a huge chunk of the interest we pay on our debt, which would have made cutting taxes or dealing with this financial crisis even easier. Somehow this never comes up.
If these folks really wanted to cut the budget, they would have protested against Bush. But of course they didn't. And now that Obama is in office, with the horrendous problems he inherited from Bush, they're blaming him? Please.
They're angry about government spending, but of course they couldn't protest Bush, because they somehow see themselves as agreeing with him, even though he did the opposite of what they believe in. So Bush pissed them off, but they couldn't protest against him, so they are taking all their anger that was inspired by Bush, and aiming it at Obama.
Can you say dysfunctional?
This feels like one of those moments at a party when someone does something really embarrassing but doesn't realize it, so everyone else pastes uncomfortable smiles on their faces, waits for the moment to pass, and then doesn't say anything. Until maybe a few days later, when there is a hushed whisper here and there. And eventually the person somehow doesn't get invited to quite as many parties. Right now, many, many Republicans are incredibly embarrassed by this spectacle, but they're not saying anything, and they won't for a while. At least not in public. But this will have a strong impact on how many people vote.
What's unfortunate for those mainstream Republicans is that events like the ones today are great networking events. Thousands and thousands of business cards and phone numbers and emails were exchanged at these parties today. Which means that we have not heard the end of the tea partiers. It took many years and several devastating electoral defeats before the Democrats finally dealt with their nutcases. As Sullivan keeps writing, it is going to get worse before it gets better.