I want to stitch together a few highlights from Brian McNeill’s lengthy profile of local Tea Party chapter head Bill Hay in today’s Daily Progress:
“I have a lot of respect for Tom Perriello,” Hay said, taking a break from selling his Righteous Bean coffee at the farmer’s market in Meade Park on a recent Wednesday. “He’s a good guy. … He does what he truly believes is best. I don’t question his integrity at all.”
Hay’s kind words might seem a bit odd from the leader of the anti-tax and anti-government-spending Jefferson Area Tea Party, which has organized protests outside Perriello’s district office at which the congressman was called a “traitor,” a “coward” and a “political prostitute.”
When asked about some of the harsh rhetoric espoused at Jefferson Area Tea Party events, Hay said he regrets it when things gets out of hand.
“I don’t think it does any good,” he said. “I like to see people totally avoid name calling. Stick to the facts.”
At several Jefferson Area Tea Party events, members carried signs with a photo of Perriello with a red slash across his face that reads “WANTED: Congressman That Will Uphold the Constitution.”
“I feel a little bit bad about that sign at times,” Hay said. “But it does make an effective statement.”
At the town hall meetings, some Tea Party supporters have questioned Perriello’s ability to read, his intelligence and his love of the United States.
At the protest outside Perriello’s office last week, a supporter of health care reform stood on Perriello’s office steps and told the crowd of supporters and opponents about how his health premiums have skyrocketed and his family is struggling to keep their health insurance.
“Who cares?” shouted a Tea Party supporter.
I’m pushing the boundaries of fair use here, but the point is obvious: we’ve got a bunch of people whose actions are nowhere near their words. That “Who cares?” really sums up the positions of the teabaggers: We don’t care about anybody but ourselves. Newborn needs expensive surgery to live, but the parents lack insurance? Sucks to be born. Guy loses his health insurance, and his job along with it, and now can’t get coverage because of a preexisting condition? Good luck with that, bub. This bunch is more like the Go To Hell Party.
But the quote that I really want to preserve from McNeill’s article is Keith Drake, the disastrous recent chair of the Albemarle County Republican Party, saying this of the Tea Party: “It’s a real movement. It’s not a flash in the pan.”
Like the Bull Moose Party, the Free Soil Party, and the Nullifier Party, this “nonpartisan” group is here to stay. Well, until Republicans are in power again.