Law professor Glenn Reynolds whose blog Instapundit was one of the first and most successful attempts to exploit the new medium of internet blogging, has an article at The Wall Street Journal recounting his experience at the tea party convention a couple of weeks ago.
What he describes is nothing like the impression one gets of these people from, say, watching Keith Olbermann for 30 seconds or more. These are serious people - light-hearted, cheerful, and enthusiastic - but serious about implementing the agenda, or at least part of it, that Barack Obama promised he'd implement but hasn't.
Here's Reynolds' lede:
There were promises of transparency and of a new kind of collaborative politics where establishment figures listened to ordinary Americans. We were going to see net spending cuts, tax cuts for nearly all Americans, an end to earmarks, legislation posted online for the public to review before it is signed into law, and a line-by-line review of the federal budget to remove wasteful programs. These weren't the tea-party platforms I heard discussed in Nashville last weekend. They were the campaign promises of Barack Obama in 2008.
Mr. Obama made those promises because the ideas they represented were popular with average Americans. So popular, it turns out, that average Americans are organizing themselves in pursuit of the kind of good government Mr. Obama promised, but has not delivered. And that, in a nutshell, was the feel of the National Tea Party Convention. The political elites have failed, and citizens are stepping in to pick up the slack.
This response has brought millions of Americans to the streets over the past year, and brought quite a few people to the posh Opryland Resort (with its indoor waterfalls and boat rides, it's like a casino without the gambling) for the convention.
Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry - and they are - but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when ne w-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause.
A year ago, many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama's transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless. That changed when protests, organized by bloggers, met Mr. Obama a year ago in Denver, Colo., Mesa, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli's famous on-air rant on Feb. 19, 2009, which gave the tea-party movement its name.
Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington's habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they're no longer depressed.
Instead, they seem energized. And surprisingly media savvy.
If you've heard rumblings about the tea party but don't know who these people are or what they're trying to accomplish, Reynolds' column is a good place to find out.RLC