When the most powerful Republican of them all (and we're not talking about the former resigned governor of Alaska) sort of throws up his hands and says, half-joking, "I'm only the speaker," you know that the tea party in the United States Congress isn't exactly like having a butter biscuit and some Earl Grey with Winston Churchill.
John "Tan Man" Boehner of Ohio, speaker of the U.S. House, drew some attention on the taking of his office by shedding a few tears on occasion. It was kind of touching, to tell the truth. But if the GOP tea partyers who swept to office last year keep going, he'll need to keep the hanky handy. Might consider one of those deluxe bath towels at Target.
Mercy. In the first of many flexes of the ol' righteous right muscle, the tea party crowd in the House pushed through an amazing series of budget cuts. As, it must be said, they promised. (President Obama makes his own promise ... to veto.)
The problem is, the things they're slicing aren't exactly, well, free-spending waste on helicopters or fresh gilding for the members' bathrooms or new cushions for the underground railroad that transports your lawmakers from the chamber to their office buildings.
Get a load of this list from the Associated Press, all things that the tea party group wanted either cut or prohibited as part of the continuing resolution that keeps the U.S. of A. running through Sept. 30.
They want to knock $60 billion out of programs for education, environmental protection and services in local communities. They want to stop funding for President Obama's health care reform. They want to kill funding for Planned Parenthood, family planning and prevention of teenage pregnancy.
And naturally, they'd like to cut funding for the Social Security Administration, which might result in furloughs for staff members, which in turn could well mean people would have trouble getting their benefits on time. Republicans say that's a bunch of nonsense. Which will sound good until people don't get their checks, in which case perhaps the tea partyers will simply get to the real point, and say, "Well, since there are difficulties, let's just do away with Social Security! Problem solved!"
The Environmental Protection Agency is sleeping with one eye open these days. The tea party folks want to stop it from enforcing or creating rules curbing greenhouse gases to answer the threat of global warming, which the new folks in charge of the GOP would view as a communist conspiracy if communism were still as scary as it used to be. But they think Democrats are pretty much the same thing.
Oh, and naturally the same crowd is picking on a lot of people who can't defend themselves, which figures considering they're behaving rather like schoolyard bullies, who never pick on people who can defend themselves. That means cuts for Pell Grants to help poor college students, and cuts for food for poor pregnant women and poor women with young children. Pattern here?
Say, and just for kicks, they'd like to kill off any public money for public television, and for AmeriCorps, which conspires to pay people for public service and to encourage others to volunteer. Doggone public servants and volunteers!
I'm an unaffiliated voter myself, and not in the position of advising political groups, but the tea partyers might want to consider another coaching staff.
Because ... once Social Security has to slow down payments, congressional offices are going to be flooded with calls and letters and marches that will make the Battle of Yorktown look like ... well, a tea party. Once tens of thousands of federal workers have to be laid off (thus, by the way, increasing the unemployment problem that the tea partyers were so exercised about just last year) and services start to suffer across the board ... have mercy, tea toters, because your constituents are liable to start tossing your office furniture in the Potomac excepting for the desks which you'll need to float out of town.
Things are not going well on another front for the tea party. Sarah Palin, who served a little bit as governor of Alaska and has been the tea party champion, seems to be fading. Like the late Soupy Sales, who made a career out of getting hit with a pie in the face for 30 years, the governor's predictable attacks on all things moderate are starting to get a little shopworn. Sales kept going on game shows. But there are not many alternatives for a formerly unsuccessful vice presidential candidate. Shopping network, perhaps?