Arkansas Tea Parties: The Real Deal or ‘Astroturf’? (Updated!)

Tea Party in Little Rock, March 2009
Tea Party in Little Rock, March 2009

A Friendly Liberal Interlocutor (FLI) e-mailed last night to ask about my recent flurry of blogging activity related to the Arkansas Tax Day Tea Party Protests. FLI asked if I was being paid by some national third party groups to promote the events.

The answer to which is, “Not at all.” No, strike that. The more precise answer is, “Hell, I wish, but no.”

My reasons for writing about the demonstrations in Arkansas have been twofold. First, I find them interesting—I’d seen some coverage on bigger blogs and was curious as to how the movement was shaping up in Arkansas.

Second, there’s a lot of interest among readers, and providing information on the tea parties in Arkansas has been helpful to people here who want to get involved (I know this from my search query reports, as well as from the e-mails and phone calls I’ve been getting every day from people seeking info on the events).

I should tack on that it’s been good for the blog’s traffic numbers and probably helped us pick up a few extra readers, and I’m all for that.

FLI was trafficking in the latest liberal canard that tries to derogate the Tea Party movement as an “astroturf” campaign, engineered by big political PR firms in Washington DC and abetted by FOX News. FLI offered no real evidence of the charge. Naturally.

It’s true that there are some big political organizations that have gotten involved with the movement, like Freedom Works. But that involvement has mostly been ex post facto.

That is to say, a number of big political organizations have jumped on board and are piggybacking on the events. I can’t speak to their motivations, but I assume they are trying to build up their mailing lists and profiles to position themselves as the next Moveon.org-style advocacy team on the political right. Fair enough.

(At this point, I’ve only received one contact from a national group: A local rep for American Majority, someone I’ve known for years, called me last week to tell me they were offering some limited assistance to organizers, but she was careful to note that they had no interest in taking over the event from the grassroots folks, and were more interested in finding ways to channel the energy going forward, after the protests. Again, fair enough.)

But the energy for organizing these events is coming from the grassroots, and I know that from talking to people here in Arkansas. Go back and read our interview with the Central Arkansas Campaign for Liberty’s Rob Richard last week—his involvement with the Tea Party movement was largely coincidental, but he’s emerged as one of the leading organizers here in the state.

If you want to criticize the Tea Parties for their aims or their message, that’s fine. But really, enough with the whole “vast right wing conspiracy” business. (I should add that FLI, doubts notwithstanding, ultimately sided with the Tea Party protesters, in spirit at least, declaring that he “likes a little revolution every now and then.” Good for him.)

More stuff:

Tea Party hater Pat Lynch catches a local organizer for an impromptu interview in an elevator.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette advances today’s activities here.

ABC News has a good piece on the movement here, and asks a key question about the aftermath of the demonstrations: “Now what?”

Blogger Michelle Malkin offers a detailed history of the movement’s development.

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds on Tea Parties as an “Army of Davids” phenomenon in the Wall Street Journal.

Expatriate Arkansan and blogger K. Ryan James will be reporting from the Tea Party in Lafayette Park in Washington DC.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, columnist John Brummett, the Andy Rooney of Arkansas journalism, reads a single article from the LA Times to arrive at his definitive and not at all ill-informed opinion, captured here in a sneering blog post that I’m sure was carefully considered before he posted, because he is a highly paid newspaper columnist. God I love newspapers. Y’all gonna miss ’em when they’re gone.

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5 thoughts on “Arkansas Tea Parties: The Real Deal or ‘Astroturf’? (Updated!)

  • April 15, 2009 at 10:50 am
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    Thanks so much for the kind mention. Yes, I am a “hater.”

    let me be brief. Major media organizations and local broadcasters intend to use the turnout for these events as a sales tool to generate revenue. It is telling an advertiser, “Look what a great job we did.” These media folks are not completely stupid.

    Of course, the stimulus is good for the country and good for the economy. The ONLY objection might be that it might cause more taxes on the RICH and it might do some good here in America. It’s never a problem to drop a trillion or two in Iraq.

    I am shocked you smart young guys at the Arkansas Project haven’t figured all this out by now.

    It’s nice to be mentioned in an important blog like Arkansas Project, so thanks again.

    Lyncho

    Reply
  • April 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm
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    Of course, Pat! A carefully coordinated campaign spearheaded by major and local media outlets to drive up ad revenue. It’s so simple!

    Wait a minute, no, it’s not. It’s needlessly complicated and nonsensical. But as with the best conspiracy theories, you adduce no evidence for this claim, which is also non-falsifiable, so I guess you must win. Alas, alas.
    D.

    P.S. Cutting and pasting strings of quotes from an agenda-driven liberal advocacy organization, as you do at your blog, does not a thoughtful argument make.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2009 at 2:03 pm
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    Wow, Lyncho. How jaded are you? These people have made a choice to go protest, so obviously they have been paid off. Rich people must be behind this because the stimulus is such a great idea that no one in their right mind would oppose it. Nay, the rich, huddled in their mansions on snob hill have hired Kinkade to push this. But you have assumed the role of Cousin Eddie and have broken into the manse of Frank Shirley and hogtied him to present to the little people he has abused. You’ve tied him up, placed a bow upon his head and plopped him down in front of the very people he has harmed . Methinks the shitter may indeed be full.

    Nevermind. I forgot. Only we youngin’s would catch that pop culture reference. We youngin’s that are so savvy with our internets, twitches and twitters and such.

    I think this shows what is so great about blogs, blogging, etc. When you post something, someone can hold you accountable. If people don’t find your post insightful, illuminating or otherwise relevant, they don’t come to your blog.

    Kinkade puts his ideas and opinions out there and freely accepts whatever challenge is proffered. And his is one of the most popular blogs in the state. No offense Mr. Lynch. I consider myself an Arkansas news/politics blogophile and I had no idea you even had a blog. I’m aware of most of the Democrat blogs in the state and frequent many.

    One discovers a blog because other people find that blog’s comments relevant enough to link to. Again, I did not know you had a blog. So, I guess that’s saying something. Instead of assuming Kinkade is nefarious, I’d say you might want his advice in making your blog successful if you wish to compete in this new medium.

    I know it must be hard, for decades your opinion was published carte blanch and no one could challenge you openly. Only the editors could permit a challenge. If they were friendly to your point of view, you never faced a challenge. But now all that has changed. Technology has thrown down the false idol of “opinion writers.” Anyone can have his or her say and the public hear it, digest it and comment on it. After all, Kinkade is more qualified to comment on such things as is any other opinion writer in the state. He has actually worked for elected officials and campaigns. That gives him more qualifications to form opinions than if he simply had a journalism degree and happened to land the right job.

    So, go ahead, follow the lemmings off the cliff Mr. Lynch. But don’t be shocked if there are some out there that refuse to follow. And don’t be surprised if there are a few people that try to get the rest of you to stop before you plummet to your death. But what do we know, we’re just young whipper-snappers with computers and opinions. We shouldn’t be allowed to speak up until we get our own newspaper column.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm
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    Hey, Pat….the great thing about you liberals is that FEWER people will choose to actually work and be more productive. It will be far easier to do what many liberals are doing…work less, live off of the hard work of OTHER people, and FINALLY be proud to be an American!!! We can FINALLY ALL be liberals and sing Kum Bah Yah while holding hands! Hey…if we don’t have enough “RICH” people to take care of us…we can FORCE the “RICH” to keep working or tax them even higher…right? How does 90% sound?!!!!???!!!!

    By the way, Pat, you obviously have NOT heard that we are angry at ALL of the gas bags in Washington which does include the last administration as well…so don’t start calling me a racist and a hater too!

    Reply
  • April 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm
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    It gives me a warm spot in my heart to know that I made a difference in some people’s lives!

    (apparently A BIG DIFFERENCE in one guys. ROFL!

    AGAIN, thanks,
    Pat

    Reply

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