Tuesday, April 14, 2009
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster In spite of President Barack Obama's middle-class tax cuts -- swooping rates to well below those of President Ronald Reagan -- some persist in the belief that Obama is "the taxingist taxing taxer in all the taxing history of taxes," joked MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday night. Playing off a Sunday op-ed by New York Times economist Paul Krugman, Maddow touched on the issue of "AstroTurf" in the tea parties, which Krugman suggested are in-part "manufactured" by "right-wing billionaires." "Interestingly, the actual folks turning up at these events seem a little bit Ron Paul-ish," she noted. "Folks at protests arguing against the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve? Folks arguing for a return to the gold standard? I feel like I'm back outside the Republican primary debates with the exuberant Ron Paul supporters showing up all of the other Republican candidates." Maddow, who was once a host for liberal talk radio, told the Times in 2008 that Ron Paul is her favorite Republican. "I like the congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, because I understand what he believes, and he is fearless and civic-minded in his beliefs, rather than personally zealous," she said. "Remember how the Ron Paul campaign raised $6 million in one day?" asked Maddow on Monday night. "In a drive that coincided with the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party? Ron Paul supporters never called that fundraiser a 'teabagging.' Perhaps because they knew how to use UrbanDictionary.com." Maddow's guest, Air America correspondent Ana Marie Cox, noted that the "teabagging" is seen as "somewhat perverted" by at least some of Ron Paul's supporters, even though Paul himself expressed enthusiasm for the events. "[Dr. Paul] may not know how to use Urban Dictionary," said Cox. On a related point, as noted by Paul Krugman in Sunday's New York Times, the tea parties are at least in-part "AstroTurf," or a fake grassroots movement, manufactured by "right-wing billionaires." "In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires," he wrote. "And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News." On the board of directors at FreedomWorks are none other than former Speaker of the House Dick Armey, former Secretary of Transportation James H. Burnley and billionaire Steve Forbes, among others. "I want to point out that some of the Ron Paul people that are going to these rallies, and even Dr. Paul himself, I think, do genuinely believe in whatever wacky idea is being supported here," said Cox. "I mean, it's hard to say what the idea is; as you point out, it's sort-of amorphous outrage. But the Ron Paul people are very anti-tax of any kind ... So, there you go." "But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the 'spontaneous' riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County," wrote Krugman. "So what's the implication of the fact that Republicans are refusing to grow up, the fact that they are still behaving the same way they did when history seemed to be on their side? I'd say that it’s good for Democrats, at least in the short run — but it’s bad for the country." This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Apr. 13, 2009.