I keep hoping that one day the Tea Party movement will have its' Jaws moment. I don't mean the shark movie, but the character played by Richard Kiel in two James Bond films in the 1970s. A assassin sent out to kill Bond, Jaws was 7 foot, 2 inces tall, had metal teeth, and was apparently indestructible. For instance, in The Spy Who Loved Me , during a fight scene on a train, Jaws has Bond by the throat and is about to take a metallic bite out of him. But Bond grabs a broken lamp and shoves it in Jaws mouth, temporarily (!) electrocuting him. Jaws is then pushed off the fast moving train, lands hard on the ground, and rolls down an embankment. Afterwards, he gets up, brushes himself off, and straightens his tie. I always loved the straightening of the tie part. It's hard to hate a villain who manages to retain some semblance of dignity after a rather humiliating defeat. Jaws, after all, was a freak of nature, and didn't really fit in with all that Bondian glamour. Maybe that's why he was so homicidal.
The Tea Party movement is no freak of nature. Is it homicidal? Well, some of our elected officials, the ones who voted for health care, have been receiving death threats. And the Tea Partiers have been known to carry signs with targeted representatives on them. In their defense, the Tea Partiers (I'm trying very hard not to refer to them as teabaggers; that joke's gotten kind of old) claim they're only targeted for defeat in the next election. If the representatives make it to the next election. On the day of the health care vote itself, John Lewis (D-GA), a significant figure during the 1960s civil rights movement, was called a nigger, and Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a fag by Tea Partiers as both gentlemen entered their office. I think Jaws showed more dignity when he bit into the broken lamp.
Until now, I've been somewhat reluctant to criticize the Tea Party movement. Most of them seem to come from the white working-class, about the only group left in these politically correct times the sophisticates feel free to malign. I've long felt the white working-class could be won over to the liberal side, at least when it comes to economics. Social issues, such a gay marriage, would be a much harder sell. Still, once you had them securely in the liberal fold, maybe you could win them over on those as well.
However, the way the Tea Party movement has reacted to the economics of health care reform has given me pause. Sure, this is not the best bill Congress could have passed, and some aspects of it, such as the mandates, have me worried as well. But a simpler way of doing it would have been labeled socialism. Of course, the Tea Party movement has labeled it socialism anyway, as well as communism, fascism, and Nazism. Supposedly what bothers the Tea Partiers most is government spending. Fair enough. So where were they during the war in Iraq? That cost the taxpayers money, as well as some taxpayers' lives and limbs. OK, they're supposed to be proudly patriotic, and lot of them probably equate patriotism with any military action someone in power deems necessary (which reminds me, the expansion of the war in Afghanistan is the one policy move by the Obama administration they don't seem to have a problem with), but what about George W Bush's expansion of Medicare? Where were they then? They claim to be upset with both political parties, but where were they during the eight years Bush was in office? They claim to hate the bank bailouts, but again, never protested until after Bush moved out of the White House.
The Tea Partiers claim to be against "elitism". Well, one definition of elitism is people who believe themselves to be better than others. When they call others "nigger" and "fag", doesn't that mean they think they're better? Or do they think Lewis and Frank enjoyed being called that? Apparently, elitism is relative.
I've often wondered if the Teabaggers--oops--Tea Partiers aren't paid to protest at town halls and the like. There's no proof that they are. But even if there is no direct change of cash, I nevertheless believe they take their marching orders from people with much bigger bank accounts than them, who live in much bigger houses than them, who have many more options in life than them, and who no way in hell identify with or understands them. I take the last part back. If you're going to manipulate people, it helps first to understand them.
Which brings me to the second James Bond movie with Jaws, Moonraker. In that film, an evil tycoon sends Jaws out to dispatch Bond before he can discover his nefarious plan. Jaws falls short of killing Bond, but at least captures and brings him to the evil tycoon's lair, in this case an orbiting space station. Confident Bond can't escape, the tycoon lays out his plan. Jaws listens in as well, probably hearing it for the first time. The tycoon is going to release a bunch of globes filled with poison gas into Earth's atmosphere, thus killing everybody on the planet. Aboard the space station are dozens of what the evil tycoon considers genetically perfect humans. Once the effects of the poison gas wears off, these perfect humans, these elite humans, will return to Earth and live in a perfectly elite world.
As Jaws listens to this plan, a look of realization appears on his face. There's not going to be any room for a freak like him in this perfect world. He's being used. Jaws switches sides, and helps Bond save the day.
Here's hoping the Tea Partiers have their Jaws moment.