Tea Party Republicans: Influencing Enemies and Losing Friends

The past few weeks have been tough for most of the Northeast.   It was a fairly wet August to begin with, when Hurricane Irene came through, followed in short order by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.   What most people tend to forget, because such storms are measured by their wind speeds, is that it’s not the wind that does the most damage, it’s the water.  The Northeast has experienced record floods over the past two weeks, and here in New York, entire communities have been washed away or suffered extreme damage.

In my area, we mostly dodged the severe damage.  We had some flooding, but nothing like we had this spring.    What damage we did have was mainly from trees being blown down.

Yes, there is a road underneath the trees.  Bad as it looks, it was a few days to clear them out, and most of the damage was fairly rapidly repaired.  There’s still a lot of clean-up to be done, but the most serious stuff is out of the way.   But that’s not the case elsewhere.  Tree damage is one thing, water another entirely.  In other parts of the state, roads, bridges, dams, farms, and houses all suffered destruction from flood waters.  The town of Prattsville has half of the buildings on  its Main Street street condemned as unsafe and scheduled for demolition.   I talked to a fireman from the area, and he said his department had made what would normally be 1/3rd of their annual responses in a week.  He told me of driving the fire engine through 4 feet of water, and having one of the men in the rear call forward and say “look to your right.”  There was a house sliding down a hill, and as he said “I never thought I’d see something like that.”

It’s not just New York that suffered.  Vermont suffered heavy damage, as bridges washed out, and entire towns were cut off from outside contact.  Pennsylvania and New Jersey suffered major damage, and deaths and damage were reported from North Carolina to Maine.   A major disaster affecting multiple states, creating damage beyond the capabilities of local and state governments to fund repairs and recover from it.  Which is exactly why we have FEMA.

It’s been a bad year for disasters, and unfortunately, FEMA needed additional funds.  Which is when Republicans in Congress decided to show just how caring they are.  Representative Eric Cantor demanded that any funding be matched with cuts elsewhere, just as he did with the Joplin, Missouri tornado.  This went over like a lead balloon with leaders in the affected states.   Even fellow Republicans from the affected area were irate about it, and one representative, Nan Hayworth, who tried to toe the party line, ended up changing her tune after local Republicans had … unprintable things … to say about her statements.   When the funding measure came up in the Senate,  Jeff Sessions of Alabama blocked it, until a number of other Senators  – including 8 from his Party – overrode him.   I might note that Senator Sessions had no qualms about asking for FEMA aid when his state was hit by a tornado.

At no time in the past has disaster aid been subjected to the political games that the Tea Party Republicans are playing.  The rule of thumb has has always been “help now, worry about the budget games later.”   Many of these representatives are in states which have benefited from that in the past – and I don’t mean the far past, either.   Those points haven’t been lost on the people whose lives were affected by this disaster.  It’s one thing to be concerned about deficits and federal spending.  Many of these areas are “conservative,” in the old sense of the term.   Many of them are life-long Republicans, and voted for some of the current members of the House and Senate.   They’ve never complained about disaster aid to other areas.  They’ve always recognized that sometimes things are just too big for individuals, local government, or even states to handle on their own.  So you can imagine their reaction when it’s their disaster.  It’s not nice.  What they see is a cold-blooded willingness to play stupid political games instead of pitching in to help out.  They know they need help, they’ve asked for it, and to see various elected officials get stupid about it in the name of ideology – not practicality – infuriates them.

Which is going have an impact for Republicans in 2012.  The people in those states are still going to be cleaning up the mess next year, and they’ll have a lot of reminders of who played games with that right in front of them.  They’re going to remember it, and what happens when you pick someone who chooses ideology over practicality.   It’s going to be a rough year for the Tea Party next year, and it couldn’t happen to a better bunch.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Tea Party Republicans: Influencing Enemies and Losing Friends

  1. KayCeSF

    I believe you are right, Norbrook. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Their constituents need to be brought back to reality, and it’s a shame it takes Mother Nature to do it. I hope these people lose their seats in Congress. It is unbelievable how much gall Sessions had, too. You are right, it’s cold-blooded willingness on their part.

    As an aside, we now have a T-Party guy who is going to run against Boehner, as per his announcement on MSNBC this morning. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. :/

    You gotta read about this guy who this morning called Boehner a socialist! The other strange thing is, in this article below they never give his first name, just refer to him as “Lewis.”

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/man-announces-intent-to-run-against-boehner-1255781.html

    • What’s been interesting has been that, at least in NY, the hardest hit areas are ones represented by Republicans in Congress. NY-19, NY-20, 24, and 29. NY-21, 22, and 23 are represented by Democrats, and yes, also sustained serious damage. But the major “total loss” hits were in the Republican areas. When Nan Hayworth (NY-19) babbled about budget cuts before finding the money, it went over like a lead balloon, and she was walking those back as fast as she could – but the damage had been done. The same thing holds true in Pennsylvania – the areas that got hit the hardest are represented by Republicans. So the Tea Party line, particularly elsewhere, is not reflecting well on the representatives from those areas. They’re causing a lot of people to start re-thinking what the Tea Party is all about, and giving a lot of ammunition to Democrats.

  2. Hola, Norbrook!

    People have long memories about things like this. Folks in Southeast AZ, who also tend to be “conservative” in that old sense of the word, are none too happy about how the lack of funding and cuts to wild land firefighting probably allowed the Wallow fire to be worse than it could have been due to lack of enough crews and planes to contain it more quickly. My nephew was there with his Hot Shot crew from CA. He said that wild land firefighting took huge budget cuts under Bush and that lack of trained people and equipment costs more loss. Also clean up there is not proceeding too well either.

    Some people here are equally pissed off about McCain blaming “illegals” for setting the fire even though he was told at the time that investigators had not determined the cause when he made his one brief visit to the area. Our fire investigators (gov employees) are excellent at what they do. Turns out two gringos from Tucson got careless with an ‘illegal’ camp fire. They were arraigned this week and will be prosecuted.

    Imho, Repugnants and their teapotty masters are busy cutting their own throats and Dems better use this to their advantage!

    • Yes, they do have long memory. To give you an idea of how unusual this disaster has been, there’s a story in one of the papers about residents’ unfamiliarity with FEMA:

      North Country residents aren’t very familiar with disasters big enough to warrant response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

      And it’s that unfamiliarity with nationally significant storms, and the federal agency itself, that officials are blaming for widespread confusion about the process.

      In other words, we’re usually the ones sending aid, and not the ones on the receiving end. That means that most people aren’t familiar with FEMA processes. Despite that, one of the things that’s going to stick in the craw of a lot of voters is the memory of who was grandstanding for political points.

  3. One state where I would like to see “disaster politics” backfire is Missouri. The whack that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Heartless) took at Joplin Missouri needs to be part of all ad campaigns in that state.

    I have right-wing relatives who live in western Missouri and, when I visited there in June, even they were talking about the devastation in Joplin and how the city needed help getting rebuilt.

    Missouri’s 10 electoral votes went to John McCain in 2008 by 3,632 votes. Next year they will have 9 votes but I hope no interest in electing the Party Without A Heart.

    • Oh, I’m sure that the people in the DCCC and DSCC were jumping for joy when Cantor opened his mouth. He’s given the Democrats plenty of sound bites to get the message through.

    • trs

      I live about an hour from Can’tor’s district in VA. I plan on some road trips to his district to work for his Democratic challenger.

  4. Sorry, totally OT but I sent my Hubby a link to your blog post from Monday and he votes: “Star Wars Kitties” He was laughing so hard about that when I talked to him this afternoon that I just had to let you know how much he enjoyed it, especially the last clip.

    I have decided we need to laugh and enjoy life lots more than some out there do. Thank you for giving us some humor. ♥

  5. Thanks for this information, Norbrook. It’s sad, but sometimes the only way to get someone’s attention and make them see the error in their way(s) of viewing others is to have something happen to them that impacts them on a personal level. I’m thinking that some of the people who voted for the TP members and sent them to Congress are now regretting that decision. Sure, their beliefs were similar to the TPers they voted to send to Congress, and that was okay for them—-until they discovered that there was no “carve out” for them in the way the TPers would vote on issues important to them and their families. They didn’t hurt PBO when they voted for the TP candidates. They hurt themselves.

    • Exactly. These are more “traditional” Republicans and conservatives, and yes, they do want fiscal restraint. Living in NY gives you a primer on “high taxes.” and “too many regulations.” :lol: But, they’re also much more flexible when it comes to necessary spending. They’ve long understood that sometimes you have to “bite the bullet” and borrow for something or raise taxes to pay for a needed service.

      I think they voted Republican because they usually always vote Republican, and they thought they were “sending a message.” What they didn’t expect was that the Republicans would be dogmatic about their ideology, instead of being flexible. The end result is that while these people may never be progressive as we know it, they’re not going to be very patient with anyone who willing to help out when needed.

      • Look at the townhalls that ignited after the Ryan plan came out. Or the majority of GOP voters who want taxes raised. There’s a seismic shift going on.

        Obama Republicans?

        • Exactly. What the extremes on both sides always manage to forget is that there is a big middle. The Tea Party took the election results in 2010 as a “mandate” :roll: when it was most definitely not, and they’re finding out that while the middle may lean one way, it can snap back to the other in a hurry.

          • Alan Scott

            Norbrook,

            ” The Tea Party took the election results in 2010 as a “mandate” when it was most definitely not, and they’re finding out that while the middle may lean one way, it can snap back to the other in a hurry. ”

            If that is true , what does Weiner’s district going Republican mean ? Bob Turner ran an anti Obama campaign and won a seat that has not been Republican since the 1920s.

          • What does it mean? Not much. That particular district has always been on the conservative side – mostly Orthodox Jewish, and more than a little susceptible to the right “push.” It didn’t help that the local Democratic Party apparatus picked the single most lackluster person they could to run. It’s meaningless after this year anyways, since that district was slated to disappear in redistricting.

  6. nellcote

    Norbrook, what’s the perception of FEMA in your neck of the woods? They were getting good reviews from the tornadoes earlier in the year but I haven’t read anything from the NE after floods.

    • They’re getting good marks from officials, but one of the problems FEMA is facing is that individuals are confused about them. The problem is that we haven’t needed FEMA on the ground for things before, so no one is used to dealing with them. They’re opening up some more centers to speed things along, and answer questions.