Don’t bring your pitchforks. This is to be our "last stand" to stop health care reform, it’s Alamo time. Don’t let your congressmen call it a "rally" or "protest"–make sure they say "press event" or "press conference." The point is to see "the whites of their eyes," because there’s nothing a congressman fears more than a "freedom-loving American." Oh, and don’t dress "too nicely." We don’t want the press to start calling this another "Brooks Brothers riot" like they did when Bush aides stormed Miami hallways to stop the 2000 recount.
You can feel the tension between the urge to bully and the need to seem "normal" in every hectic contradiction sent out over the past couple days by Rep. Michelle Bachmann and the Republican Study Committee to the thousands of Tea Partiers who gathered to protest at the Capitol on Thursday. And you have to sympathize. Truly, it isn’t easy to be inoffensively radical, or respectably revolutionary, or even pleasantly insane.
Brought in on buses chartered by the corporate astroturf group Americans For Prosperity, they were the now de rigeur crew of white folks of a certain age, carrying signs emblazoned with Holocaust corpse pits and Obama as the Joker. Most wound up snarled before the metal detectors at the entrances to House and Senate office buildings across the street from the Capitol, trying to get inside to "scare" their congresspeople but instead spilling into the traffic outside. A handful of anti-abortion protesters were arrested at Nancy Pelosi’s office in the Canon House Office Building (Pelosi wasn’t there; she spent most of her day in the Capitol itself, where access is strictly limited).
Bachmann had called this a "desperate act" in hopes of countering the House vote on the reform bill, scheduled for this Saturday, though you’ve got to wonder whether another reason was to drown out coverage of its endorsement by both the American Association of Retired People and the American Medical Association (the latter a real Et tu? moment for the GOP).