Friday, June 14, 2013

Obama's Africa trip gives Tea Partiers something else to bristle about

Social media is lighting up on the far-right after the announcement of President Obama's planned trip to Africa.  Adding to the list of things the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has developed as evidence this President is the worst ever, the projected cost of the trip to sub-Sahara Africa to be in the rang of $60 - $100 million.  According to this Washington Post article from Thursday, June 13, 2013 by Carol D. Leonning and David Nakamura, these costs and deployment of resources are well in line with previous Presidential trips abroad to less developed countries.  The most recent of which was President George W. Bush's trip to Africa in 2008. 

The list of grievances the Tea Party has compiled is a mixture of the justifiable and asinine.  Pealing back the layers of each "scandalous" story that has dogged the Obama Administration since the President's re-election reveals most are instances of human error, poor decision, and lapses in judgment by people under extreme pressure - not malfeasance.   

Among the justifiable are is the NSA leaks by the former Booze Allen intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden.  Every American should be outraged that the government has this level of capacity to gather intelligence on anyone (in the world as it seems), regardless of the layers of legal hoops they have to jump through.  Another is the Justice Department's phone tapping of the Associated Press to discover who leaked classified information about intelligence operatives in Yemen.  Lastly, is the enhanced scrutiny by the IRS of Tea Party leaning or connected groups.  But this has led to more questions about what truly constitutes a social welfare organization worthy of tax exempt status and one who's sole purpose is to affect politics and election outcomes. 

As for the asinine, the insistence the Federal Government is stockpiling weapons and ammunition by the Social Security Administration in anticipation of brewing domestic unrest that could lead to a second American Civil War.  Then there's the one where Tea Partiers insist that Obama is running the nation into a financial abyss that we'll never be able to recover.  Every analysis that's come out about the Federal Government's spending during the last 11 Presidential Administrations (including the current one) relative to GDP shows the Obama Administration comes in lower than all others with the exception of Dwight D. Eisenhower's back in the 1950s. 

Then there's the Marine holding the umbrella over the President, and the one where Obama's playing with the dog, or that Obama is giving out free cell phones to deadbeat welfare mooches (when in fact this was a program started under the Reagan Administration for low cost phone service to the poor that has been reauthorized and updated over the years).  Then there's this latest one about the cost to taxpayers for the President to travel abroad to Africa (which is something both Clinton and Bush did during their terms). 

The credibility of Tea Party aligned Republicans is a factor heading into the 2014 Federal elections.  Up first are the statewide races for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christy (R) is well position to get a second term, largely due to the fact he has governed in large part from the middle rather than on the fringe.  Virginia is a different story altogether. 

The Republican ticket is made up of Tea Party aligned nominees.  For Governor is Ken Cuccinelli (current Attorney General) who is best known for his pit bull pursuit of climate change scholars.  Then there's Attorney General nominee Mark Obenshain, who's signature piece of General Assembly legislation is a requirement that women who have a miscarriage notify law enforcement.  Then there's the circus known as E.W. Jackson who, among the laundry list of extreme views, beliefs and a checkered past, thinks that practicing yoga could lead to Satanism.  Even the most ardent conservatives have heart burn when Jackson speaks. 

The Tea Party is well positioned to follow in the footsteps of Protestant Fundamentalist who championed Prohibition, and burned out when their views were outright rejected by the American public.  With a national economy trying to find the right gear to propel it into a higher speed, the majority of Americans accepting the fact that gay people deserve the same rights guaranteed under the constitution, the public realizing that the Sequester cuts were a bad idea, it would behoove the Tea Party to find more substantive issues to wine about than the President doing the job of the Executive and flying the flag in promotion of freedom and liberty in emerging democracies.