If the Obama administration has taken flak for suggesting that conservative groups might be home to domestic terrorists, it looks like some House Democrat leaders are willing to go even further:
But in an interview on Fox TV in San Francisco, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chalked up the GOP grass-roots effort as "AstroTurf."
"This initiative is funded by the high end; we call it AstroTurf, it's not really a grass-roots movement. It's AstroTurf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class," Pelosi said.
Other House Democratic leaders took a different tack: One senior aide has been circulating a document to the media that debunks the effort as one driven by corporate lobbyists and attended by neo-Nazis...
In addition, the tea parties are "not really all about average citizens," the document continues, saying neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists are attending them. The tea parties are also not peaceful, since reporters in Cincinnati had to seek "police protection" during one of the events, it states.
The suggestions that these tea parties are driven by DC-based groups is laughable; Liz Mair takes a critical look and concludes the charge is baseless. Besides the points that Mair makes, it's worth noting that while there have been dozens of tea parties, few have featured conservative candidates or representatives of DC think tanks and lobbying groups.
As far as the charge that these rallies are composed of Nazis and terrorists, that's hard to reconcile with the pictures of participants. There are too many young children and grandparents. Further, even a strong Obama supporter like Susan Roesgen didn't turn up any violent types at the Chicago Tea Party, despite her best attempt to provoke a strong reaction.
There probably aren't many Democrats who genuinely believe the charges levied by their leadership. Nate Silver guesstimates that about 250,000 people have attended the tea parties - so far. Do Ms. Pelosi and other Democrat leaders think they're all neo-nazis?
If this is a conversation they want to have, however, perhaps Ms. Pelosi can explain the role of Marxists and North Korean sympathizers in the U.S. anti-war movement, or discuss how George Soros bought such influence in the Democratic party. It's not a debate that would help Democrats, since it's relatively easy to show the role of fringe extremists in the Democratic grassroots.
'Senior Democrats' ought to have the courage to publicly assert what they're whispering to the media. But if they're afraid to admit that they're slandering hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizers and activists, is it too much to hope that some reporter will share a copy of these secret talking points?