The Tea Party's moment of truth

Richard Cohen
Copyright 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010; 10:11 PM

On ???Meet the Press??? yesterday, David Gregory asked Marsha Blackburn, a very Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, whether she approved of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) referring to the Obama administration as ???this gangster government.??? Blackburn had just finished telling Gregory that the Tea Party is wonderful because it???s about truth: ???What they want is leaders who are going to say, ???Look, we???re ???you may not agree with us, we???re going to tell you the truth. We???re going to tell you we???re we stand.?????? So where did Blackburn stand on Bachmann???s remark, made at a Tea Party rally? ???Are those views that you would stand behind? That kind of rhetoric???? Gregory wanted to know. In other words, is the United States of America like Venezuela or Cuba, or Syria or Belarus? Or was this another example of extremely tasteless rhetoric, an incredibly un-Tea Partyish lie uttered by a politician who had contempt -- utter contempt, if I can editorialize -- for her audience? I held my breath: This threatened to be a moment of truth, candor and nearly unprecedented boldness. But Blackburn was in a bit of a fix. After all, conservatives have been on a bender of Shavian wit lately: ???You lie!??? ???Baby killer!??? Not to mention the allegation that Barack Obama is a socialist -- or, as Newt Gingrich and Jim Garlow phrased it in a recent Washington Post op-ed, that Christian conservatives are up against ???a secular-socialist culture,??? which is as close as I would like to come, thank you, to a Godless-Menshevik culture of the sort found on the Upper West Side of New York. Still, while the culture is abhorrent, the bagels are pretty good. Ah, but I digress. We must get back to ???Guts Ball??? Blackburn, as she will henceforth be known. Did she agree? Did she approve? Gangster government? Rat-a-tat-at? ???You know, I choose a different rhetoric,??? Blackburn said. But that was not what Gregory asked, and he said so. ???Wait, but one sec -- is that over the line?...??? ???That was very --??? ???Is that over the line???? The congresswoman from truth, from candor, from telling people where she stood, summoned all her political courage and said, ???Those -- those are the words that she chose and the statements that she made.??? Pathetic.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company