The New York Times' write-up of the results of its latest poll contains some interesting findings about the "Tea Party" movement -- and some baseless assumptions, too. First, the baseless assumptions: The New York Times simply does not know that this is true:
Tea Party supporters' fierce animosity toward Washington, and the president in particular, is rooted in deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.
The New York Times has no business asserting the Tea Partiers' "fierce animosity toward" President Obama is "rooted in" pessimism about the direction of the country and policy disagreements. The Times just doesn't know what the "root" cause of such animosity is -- not based on its poll, anyway. The Times could just as easily have asserted that the Tea Partiers' pessimism about the direction of the country and conviction that the Obama administration's policies are disproportionately directed at helping the poor is rooted in their fierce animosity toward Barack Obama.
Indeed, if you look at the complete Times poll results, you'll find a question in which respondents were asked what they "like LEAST about Barack Obama." Twenty-six possible responses are listed, ranging from policy disagreements to things like "not working hard enough" and "Lack of values." The most common response among Tea Partiers? "Don't like him (general)."
A few other interesting results...
The poll found 57 percent of Tea Partiers have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush, and The Times notes of the Tea Partiers: "They do not want a third party and say they usually or almost always vote Republican." Great. Maybe now everyone can stop pretending the "movement" is anything other than a bunch of Republicans?
The Times found a strong plurality of Tea Partiers don't think Sarah Palin would be an effective president. Over the past year, the narrative about Palin has generally shifted from "Sarah Palin is very popular" to "Sarah Palin is very popular among Republicans" to "Sarah Palin is very popular among Tea Partiers." Now we find that even Tea Partiers don't think Palin has the "ability to be an effective president." Maybe it's time for the media to stop treating her like a head of state?
The Times found that 53 percent of Tea Partiers think of "shows hosted by people like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity" as news, rather than entertainment. Only 25 percent think of those shows as entertainment rather than news. Yet another reason to disregard the absurd Fox News talking point about distinctions between their news programming and folks like Beck and Hannity: Their viewers don't see such distinction.