DANIELS: The Delusional Tea Party Republicans

Lee A. Daniels | 10/9/2013, 3 p.m.
Amid all of the economic pain the Tea Party-Republican coalition’s action are causing millions of Americans, we should not forget ...
Lee A. Daniels

As these words are being written, the Obama administration is trying to end a shutdown of the United States government forced by the refusal of the Republican bloc of the House of Representatives to vote on a continued funding of the government’s operations.

Looming ever closer is the deadline for Congress to deal, with the country’s debt ceiling by raising its borrowing limit. The Treasury Department last week warned that the Congress’ failure to do so by Oct. 17 could provoke “a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.”

But another way of looking at these inter-related, and completely unjustifiable, crises is as an attempt by the Tea Party movement to stage a political coup d’etat.

They failed to defeat President Obama last November. Now, Tea Party representatives in the House and Senate – having already emasculated House Speaker John Boehner, the Republican from Ohio, and Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader – have launched a direct attack against the administration by trying to wreck the government’s ability to function.

However, amid all of the economic pain the Tea Party-Republican coalition’s action are causing millions of Americans, we should not forget that the most important thing pushing the radical right wing is not opposition to Obamacare or any other administration policy.

Instead, its most important motivation is rooted in a bizarre fantasy: that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

That’s right. The “birther” flimflam, which generated so much overt influence on Republican politics during the President’s first term, is as virulent as ever, according to a recently-published book.

The book is “Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America,” by University of Washington scholars Christopher Parker and Matt A. Barreto.

One of the scholars’ primary goals is exploring the differences in opinion between the two main blocs in today’s Republican Party: those conservatives who declare themselves supporters of the Tea Party and those who say they aren’t.

For me, however, one particular finding of this valuable book stood out – and it encompassed both the Party’s mainstream and reactionary conservatives. In response to a survey question asking their opinion about President Obama’s origins, they found that 48 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans and 62 percent of Tea Party Republicans believe President Obama was not born in America.

Think of that. Despite the fact that the documentation supplied by the president, and the verification of the 1961 Hawaiian newspaper announcement of his birth, and the objective examinations by innumerable media outfits have all served to confirm the truth of the president’s birthplace, a majority of all Republicans still cling to the delusion that’s he’s foreign-born.

(The scholars’ survey also found that 58 percent of non-Tea Party conservatives and 75 percent of Tea Party conservatives don’t believe the president is a practicing Christian.)

On the one hand, this twisted self-deception brings to mind that old saying: you can fool some of the people all of the time.