I tweeted a bit from today's Tea Party event in Mellon Square Park Downtown, but here are some further initial impressions.
First, although last year's April 15 Tea Party took place on a dismal day -- and though today was picture-perfect as far as weather goes -- the crowd seemed smaller, and more subdued.
This actually isn't a bad thing. With some exceptions -- like the protesters holding aloft "Obama bin Laden" sign and a "We came unarmed ... this time" signs -- the spirit of the event seemed less batshit crazy. I attribute that partly to a lack of Ayn Randers ... I didn't see a single "Who is John Galt?" sign in the bunch. But of course the real credit for toning down the crazy goes to the participants and organizers.
The roster of speakers also gains points for diversity -- a black minister, the Reverend C.L. Bryant, was featured prominently -- though the folks behind the lectern were a lot more diverse than the crowd listening in.
Even so, the comparative lack of fervor surprised me. I mean, this time a year ago, we weren't being cruelly oppressed with a government ruthlessly trying to prevent us from losing our insurance when we get sick. I'd have thought the crowd would be more apocalyptic, not less. But maybe it's hard to believe in the creeping doom of socialism when its in the mid-70s and sunny. (In any case, it made it much harder for Glen Meakem -- a fixture at these events -- to claim that global warming doesn't exist.) Or maybe it's because the proceedings stopped periodically to allow
KDKA Radio [Sorry, that was 104.7 FM; KDKA merely covered the event, and had its advertising all over the place] -- which was carrying the event live -- to break for commercials. As Steelers fans who've attended home games know, it's hard to sustain an energy level when everything stops to allow for a word from the sponsor.
But despite warnings from Bryant -- who warned that some politicians were "Republicans in sheep's clothing, and in name only" -- there was some political activity taking place. Supporters of Melissa Haluszczak were out in force, for example. But more interesting was a flyer handed out by backers of Keith Rothfus.
Rothfus is a Republican vying for Jason Altmire's seat in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District. His flyer, however, targeted not Altmire ut Mary Beth Buchanan, another Republican vying for the GOP nomination next month.
The flyer featured a photo of a somewhat bemused-looking Buchanan with a slightly menacing pic of Barack Obama, and warned us that, "Mary Beth Buchanan SAYS she is conservative, yet she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette She would consider working in the Obama Administration."
The P-G story in question -- which dates to one month after Obama was elected, and more than a month before he even took office -- reported that Buchanan didn't plan to resign her post as US Attorney. In the story, Buchanan indeed allowed that she was "open to considering further service to the United States" at the time.
Buchanan later did step down, of course. And honestly, it's hard even for me to blame her for giving the new boss a chance. But I guess for Rothfus, the only thing for Buchanan to do was resign her commission immediately ... perhaps committing seppuku for emphasis.
Come to that, last year's Tea Party sort of made me feel like killing myself. Not so much this year. If this is all the more anger that the passing healthcare can generate, maybe this coming November won't be the disaster I expected.