Opinion

Commentary: Limbaugh wannabe created a tea party tempest

Before he gained national notoriety for aiming bigoted satire at the NAACP, who really cared about shock jock Mark Williams?

Previously fired by Sacramento's KFBK, Williams was a fourth-rate Rush Limbaugh.

Unlike Limbaugh — who leaped from KFBK to national radio prominence — Williams' brand of song stylings was not smart, substantive or funny.

He was far down the KFBK depth chart when he was canned. If Williams had attracted listeners and advertisers, he would have his own radio show right now.

That's what is most galling here. A bush leaguer is being raised up for stooping low.

In a satirical letter addressed to Abraham Lincoln, Williams wrote: "We Colored have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing."

"Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the reward. That is far too much for us Colored People and we demand it to stop!"

Williams was cracking back at the NAACP for stating that the tea party movement, of which Williams is a member, tolerates bigotry within its ranks.

What a genius. Williams proved their point.

Even as bad satire, his words made sweeping generalizations about an entire race in a denigrating way.

What would you call that? It seems ignorant and bigoted to me.

Curiously, Williams is a part of the Tea Party Express – a now-former arm of the tea party movement funded by a Sacramento-based committee headed by Sal Russo, a longtime GOP strategist.

Russo has kept the Tea Party Express focused on fiscal issues and government reform. He raised $5 million by staying on point, funding tea party-approved candidates and going after opponents such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

In an April interview, Russo said the Tea Party Express was modeled after the fiscal conservatism of Ronald Reagan, not hard-line stances on social issues. He does not subscribe to the orthodoxy of some conservatives who oppose gay marriage.

"Our followers are angry at the way politicians have abused the Constitution, but they are not angry people," Russo said.

"It's a happy crowd. A pro-American crowd."

Williams blew that image.

Despite getting more attention for himself than he ever could on the radio, Williams verbalized the worst fears about the tea party movement. He also created a potentially deadly image problem for a nascent movement.

Russo knows.

"In many ways, the tea party movement is modeled after the Ross Perot movement (of the early 1990s). It's conservative and reform-minded," Russo said in April.

"The problem with the Perot movement is that Ross did silly things and destroyed the movement."

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