Tea Baggers Hate Name-Calling, Except When They Do It


As we all learned in kindergarten, one consistent characteristic of bullies is that they can dish it out but they can’t take it.

Case in point: Grover Norquist, the self-appointed commandant of the right-wing thought police, was outraged recently when he learned that in an upcoming book by Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, Pres. Obama refers to members of the tea party protest mobs as “tea baggers.”

In a spleen vent to a columnist for the Washington Times, the right-wing propaganda sheet published by the Unification Church, a South Korean Christian cult, Norquist compared use of the term “tea bagger” to the epithet “nigger”:

“This remark is the equivalent of using the ‘n’ word. It shows contempt for middle America, expressed knowingly, contemptuously, on purpose, and with a smirk. It is indefensible to use this word. The president knows what it means, and his people know what it means. The public thought we reached a new low of incivility during the Clinton administration. Well, the Obama administration has just outdone them,” [Americans for Tax Relief] president Grover Norquist tells Inside the Beltway.

This would be laughable if it weren’t taken so seriously in certain quarters. Name-calling, most of it as vicious as it is false, is the tea partiers’ stock in trade, especially as regards Pres. Obama. Most notably, they routinely describe his policies as “socialist,” as if that were a very bad thing, when in fact most of them, like the vast majority of Americans, are products of socialized public education. They all drive on socialist government-funded freeways and streets and enjoy the protection of socialized police and fire departments.

And despite their howling about government encroachment, as was noted here a few days ago, they actually love government when it serves their own selfish interests. (Social Security and Medicare come to mind.) And they have no problem with government intrusiveness, but only if it infringes on their fellow citizens who belong to suspect classes, like Muslim immigrants anywhere and Latinos who look like they might be undocumented in Arizona.


To be a tea partier means having a world view limited to what can be learned from the nationalist spin on Fox and hate radio. Because of this, what tea baggers don’t know is that all successful democracies, including the United States, have socialist components. Arguably, the most successful democracies in terms of the quality of life enjoyed by their citizens are more socialized than not — see particularly the Scandanivian countries, Canada, France, Germany and Britain, just to name a few.

And Barack Obama is not a socialist. Just like every president before him back to the GOP’s own Teddy Roosevelt, including St. Ronnie Reagan, he is a regulatory capitalist. Both parties are invested in this system, but Republicans favor less regulation in order to benefit their corporate masters while Democrats aspire to smart regulations that protect the citizenry from predatory and incompetent corporations — like banks that are too big to fail and that privatize their profits while socializing their losses and oil companies that know how to drill but are incapable of controlling spills.

Tea baggers are also fond of saying the president is a Muslim, even though most of them were mightily offended during the 2008 campaign when video was released of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s preacher at the United Church of Christ in Chicago, in which he railed against the invasion of Iraq and asserted that God would damn America because of Bush’s unjust war and the killing of innocents.

They also like to call the president a fascist, despite the fact that modern fascism is primarily a right-wing construct and that the European fascism that led to World War II was characterized by the melding of the state with corporations — which precisely describes the goals of current-day American conservatism. See the outcome of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission for just one example.

But the most egregious fallacy here is that it was critics of the tea party mob protests who first referred to the phenomenon as “tea bagging.” As early as Feb. 12, 2009 — 22 days after Obama was sworn in — a group reserved the domain name teabagcongress.com, and launched the Tea Bag Congress website there.

The term “tea bagging” in relation to the movement also appeared in the headline of a post dated April 1, 2009, on a website called America’s Re-Tea Party:

April 1, 2009 | Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.

Our founders have stopped rolling over in their graves. After months of tossing and turning, we have finally taken back the banner of hope that has been hijacked by the “do-good” saviors.

Statist sympathizers call us cynics; those who complain without answers of our own. They call us “selfish,” implying that funding failure is altruistic. While America was founded on those who do, they ask us to submit to those who can’t.


On December 16, 1773, the original Patriots put their lives on the line. With an envelope, a stamp, and a bag of tea, millions of Americans can send a peaceful message; our lives have value.

On April 1st, our establishment will know that our freedom to succeed can no longer be sacrificed at the risk of our future.

With sincerity and respect, we ask that you join us on April 1st, 2009, in sending the Oval Office a Tea Bag, in honor of the party in Boston on December 16, 1773, and in anticipation of its nationwide symbolic re-enactment in the summer of 2009…

Follow the links to join us in Chicago or at Tea Parties all over the country and visit the forum to discuss and organize details with other attendees and organizers.

Spark a Re-Revolution,


This post is dated a week before Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox mocked the term “tea bagging” on Maddow’s MSBNC show, which is when tea baggers say the term was first introduced.

Grover Norquist is best known for saying, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” He said this in May 2001, a few months after George W. Bush took office. For the next seven years, Norquist provided disinformational talking points every week to assist his corporatist allies in the Bush White House and the Republican-controlled Congress as they exploded the size of the government, ran up huge deficits and public debt and then crashed the economy just weeks before they were drummed out of office.

Which brings us back to the start of the tea party phenomenon. As has been stated in the pages before, while liberals loathed George W. Bush well before he was inaugurated, there were no serious protests against his policies until after his misbegotten invasion and occupation of Iraq. Right wingers, in the form of the tea bagger mobs, barely waited a month after Obama’s inauguration before hitting the streets to protest, of all things, his and the Democrats’ efforts to stave off the same economic policies caused by the politicians that the tea baggers had voted into office in 2000 and then reelected in 2004.

What is alarming about this now is not their hypocrisy or self-delusion, it’s the fact that their ginned up outrage is working. With the support of corporatists like Norquist, Dick Armey’s astroturfing group Freedomworks and others, the Republicans appear set to retake control of Congress in November, presumably in order to finish the job they started of bringing this once great country to its knees, once and for all.


  • Nikolai
    May 13, 2010 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    “This remark is the equivalent of using the ‘n’ word. It shows contempt for middle America, expressed knowingly, contemptuously, on purpose, and with a smirk.

    No, it isn’t contempt for “middle America”, but it IS in contempt of lower-end, meth-trailer, misspelling, knuckle-dragging, racist ameriKKKa and you can put that in your meth pipe and smoke it, Grover.

  • The Trooper
    May 13, 2010 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Fox News’s Neil Cavuto, host of the Sacramento FNC Tax Day Tea Party, has referred to the Tea Partiers as “Teabaggers.”


    Andrew Breitbart, of the ultra-conservative Breitbart online network, has described himself as a “Proud Teabagger” less than a month ago.


  • May 13, 2010 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Rachel Maddow discussed this on her show on Tuesday night. Based on her research, it is not a comment that can be directly attributed to the president. It was a story of a staffer said this, Axelrod said that. I think the conclusion was that no one can actually say that the president made the statement, although it is said by someone else that he said it. These people take offense at every little thing someone else says after they’ve called the president and liberals every unsavory and false name in the book.

  • mw
    May 14, 2010 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    a South Korean Christian cult

    A lot of people describe the Moon movement that way but it is grossly misleading even with the “cult” qualifier.

    The UC teaches that Jesus Christ was a failure, who now serves Moon’s dead son in the spiritworld. Moon actually performed a ceremony where he married Jesus to a woman living in Korea to allow Him into Heaven since Moon claims you do not get there without accepting him and being married. They use Jesus as a tool to snag “Christians” into their web. Moon also married Muhammad.

    Recently Moon’s youngest son, who he named to head the movement, reiterated something anyone who follows Moon knows he believes, that Jesus, Muhammad and all the great saints and sages of all time, all of them, bow before Moon.

    Not what you would call “Christian.”

    If you want to really know what the Washington Times is, what Moon gets for his billions in overseas cash – watch this:


    • May 14, 2010 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

      MW, has the UC stopped calling itself Christian?

  • May 14, 2010 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Good lord, for a minute I thought the “UC” was the Unitarians. The Unification folks sound almost as zingy as Mormons, who mix and match their prophets, and the living with the dead as well.

    • May 15, 2010 - 6:32 am | Permalink

      The Moonies are more cult-like in the classic “cult of personality” sense than the Mormons in that they worship their infallible leader Sun Yung Moon and his wife, and it sounds like they’ve set up a dynasty now. Moonies are also much more adept at mind-control, which is why it can’t be a good thing for our republic that they control the Washington Times and UPI. They used to consider themselves Christian, but MW seems to suggest they’ve moved beyond that now.

  • May 15, 2010 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    To the contrary: in that sense, they are the most alike. Being a Mormon means accepting every lie ever told by the salacious, pedophilic, conman Joseph Smith. And he told some doozies.

  • mw
    May 17, 2010 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Jon, the UC is in a bit of flux with the schism. After years of Moon proclaiming there was to be no religion in his Kingdom (religions are to be meshed under his organization the Universal Peace Federation and other fronts) and saying even the UC sign must come down, the youngest son, Hyung Jin now put in charge of the UC, changed the “Messiah’s” mind. So for now, for legal protection they admit, they claim to be a religion.

    (They have always been a political and intelligence gathering organization – religion as Whelan so aptly states in the video link I posted, is cover.

    Hyung Jin admits they believe they are beyond being Christians, they are better. Jesus bows to Moon. Moon’s 6 arrests over the years for things like tax evasion in the USA represent his “passion” story and are greater than Jesus death on the cross they say.

    However the UC keeps using the bible but only to use it to con Christians, imo. Moon teaches that Christianity’s primary purpose today is to accept Moon as the messiah. i.e. as they talk about Jesus it is in terms of — Jesus was persecuted – Moon was persecuted = Moon is the messiah.

    In Jin, who is in charge of the UC USA, said she has members ASK her if they should teach their children about Jesus. This is just recently, after 50 years they are now asking if they should teach their kids about Jesus – that should tell you something. She told them yes – simply because it reflects on Moon’s mission and the con is Jesus begged Moon to finish His job.

    My point is, yes, some of them may claim to be Christian when it suits them but that is and has always been a huge fraud. Technically I guess “Cult of Christianity” may be proper but I think anytime someone suggests the UC is Christian without the history is misleading.

    Moon said many years ago when asked by members if they should use the bible and he replied only until the receive the “inheritance” of Christianity, after that they do not need to use the Bible Moon said.

  • May 17, 2010 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, MW. I did a lot of research on the Moonies, Scientology and other cults in college. Also had a good friend who was deprogrammed out of the Moonies. I knew the relationship with Christianity is/was specious, at best, but really haven’t kept up with internal workings of the cult, just its operation of the Washington Times and UPI.

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  • Al Tango
    December 2, 2011 - 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Calling President Obama a socialist is like calling him a community organizer. They are both true.

    If you call someone something that describes them honestly, it is not name-calling, it is speaking the truth.

    Teabaggers would most likely be liberal men.

    Tea partiers are mostly conservatives of both sexes.

  • COMALite J
    November 21, 2018 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I know this is years late, but I just found this post. Mr. Ponder, you missed the best part in all of this: the Teabaggers themselves named themselves that on the very day of their founding! That link goes to an old thread on Free Republic started one week to the day before the first-ever Teabagger protests — you know, the one where where the “TEA BAG THE LIBERAL DEMS BEFORE THEY TEA BAG YOU” sign and other signs were? Guess what those signs said in smaller green handwriting in the lower right corner. Go ahead. Find the photo and see for yourself.

    And it gets better. Read the Freeper thread. Read it! These people actually chose the name “Tea Bag” for their “operation” knowing full well what it meant — vulgar sexual innuendo and all! In fact, they chose the name for that very reason! They thought that the innuendo would be turned against their enemies (the “liberal Dems”) instead of themselves. They chose it specifically to be a mean-spirited vulgar pseudo-homosexual insult against the “liberal Dems”! It was only after it backfired on them and the media started using it against them that the same Free Republic started in on all this “Waaah, why are you being so mean to us, to call us by such a hateful name!?”

    Seriously. Read the first linked thread all the way through (it isn’t all that long). Marvel at the “Barney Frank” and “69%” jokes. Behold the embedded homoerotic and linked images and embedded YouTube videos of emojis and video game characters doing the teabagging motion. Oh, yes, they knew what it meant. They knew good and well what it meant.

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