There's a brouhaha in northern Iowa, as people have begun decrying a new anti-Obama billboard bought and paid for by a local Tea Party organization. It depicts Adolf Hitler as a "Nationalist Socialist," Barack Obama as a "Democrat Socialist," and Lenin as a "Marxist Socialist." Nevermind that "socialist" means different things in the first and last contexts, and that the middle descriptor is totally made up and nonsense. The billboard unwittingly represents nearly the entire length of the political spectrum from communist to fascist, but it's presented like these folks would be beer buddies.
At the bottom of the billboard it reads: Radical leaders prey on the fearful and naive. I give them one point for getting the spelling of all that correctly, but I also deduct 10,287 points for not seeing that they're actually describing... themselves. For comparing President Obama, a fairly and bloodlessly elected leader to Hitler and Lenin (and I admit I have a soft spot for a lot of Lenin's writing), is, for most Americans, to attempt to instill fear about his leadership, and to count on people's lack of knowledge about political history to think that the logic of the billboard works. So what was that again? Preying on the fearful and naive. I see.
I'm amused and curious about why this billboard is the focus of a ruckous and the first-I've-ever-noticed-backpedaling from the Tea Party about any of their signage. After all, I've seen the following:
Now then, these don't have the Tea Party moniker on the bottom of them, so of course there must be no connection to the critiques by extreme right-wing conservatives and the people who feel motivated to erect such monuments to human creativity and intelligence. Only I don't believe that. Spouting off about the President's birth certificate, the evil of making health care insurance more readily available to people, taking the tepid support he's shown toward the LGBT community and calling it evidence of anti-Christian ways, these are all feeder lines into the very most angry people in the country. Many of these billboards have become attempts at creating a tipping point, and extremists have heard the message. There are more death threats against this President than any before him. The Secret Service has had to hire more staff to deal with 30 threats a day.
But hey, Shelby Blakely of the Tea Party Patriots, has her reservations about the billboard in northern Iowa, so all is well, right? She said:
"It's not going to help our cause. It's going to make people think that the tea party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people, and that's not true."
Sure, Shelby, because all the other evidence points to the fact that your network of organizations is chock full of level-headed, rational, educated on the issues folks who would never disingenuously misrepresent history. So they must have flip-flopped the right-leaning and left-leaning politicians on their Iowa billboard on purpose, and they just think that their brilliant messaging is lost in the visuals.
I think a lot more is getting lost.