Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) took issue with Thursday’s Morning Joe panel and their negative Tea Party comments.
The panel, which consisted of MSNBNC regulars Donny Deutsch, Mike Barnicle, Lawrence O’Donnell, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and The New York Times’ Gail Collins, had been disparaging the Tea Party before Coburn’s appearance.
Deutsch and O’Donnell made fun of the Tea Party by saying that the term conjures up images of guys wearing Williamsburg caps and that they would be better off with another name like “power conservatives,” since Tea Party is a negative phrase.
Collins then explained why, in her opinion, the name hurts the movement:
But there’s a good reason why people don’t relate to the Tea Party. It’s not because it’s name is the Tea Party. It’s because it really wants to undo all the entitlements that people really like and wants drastically to shift and reduce the size of government, wants to get rid of veterans’ benefits, it wants to get rid of education aid, all the stuff people actually like. It’s not really about the name, I don’t think, it’s about what it is.
The panel then turned to Sen. Coburn to talk about Ted Cruz’s stunning victory in the Texas Senate runoff on Tuesday and he took the opportunity to educate the panel on what the Tea Party really is all about.
I was really amused with y’all’s conversation, I don’t think you all get it. The Tea Party is every person in America who’s really fed up with Washington and recognizes the way we got there was abandoning the core principles of our country, but also abandoning the Constitution. I don’t know one Tea Party leader anywhere that wants to eliminate veterans’ benefits. I’m appalled, that’s not a plank anywhere. It’s about how do you deliver those benefits and keep your word to the very people that defended this country. So, there’s a big difference of viewpoint of what the Tea Party means. I think they’re one of the best things to happen to the country because all of a sudden, we’re re-engaging in hundreds of thousands of people in this country who go to work every day, who obey the law, they pay their taxes, but they’re sick and tired of what they see of the waste and stupidity that goes on in Washington.
The panel was undeterred, however, and Deutsch asked Coburn if the Tea Party gestalt would work against him in the next election, not realizing that Coburn won’t be running for reelection when his current term is up—something O’Donnell pointed out. Coburn responded that the panel is missing the point.
But you’re miss something. You’re seeing them totally different than what they are. You ought to come and visit with some people who are just regular Joes that believe the Tea Party has got it right. And they’re union members, they’re a cross-section of people. Because you think that’ll be a problem? Most of them are really kind people. But when you look at a Tea Party rally and then when they’re gone, it’s pristine. They’ve picked it up. They’ve cleaned it up. In other words, they’re responsible citizens and they’re also pretty bright. They actually get that you have to have human relations to get along in this world and realize that they make mistakes. The picture you paint doesn’t come close to anybody I know in the Tea Party, the hundreds or thousands of people I’ve spoken to and met.
The media have been trying to bury the Tea Party for the last two years, ever since they helped the Republicans retake control of the House in 2010. But their victories in Republican primaries this year, in which Richard Mourdock toppled Richard Lugar and now Cruz’s victory in Texas on Tuesday, serves as reminder that the Tea Party is alive and well and still a force to be dealt with. This worries the Democrats and the liberals in the media who were hoping that they were nothing more than a passing fancy.