Waiting for Joe the Plumber | WisCommunity

Waiting for Joe the Plumber

The truth can now be told.  I wasted a beautiful Friday afternoon in Hudson with the Tea Party Express.  I have nobody to blame but myself.  I went in somewhat the same way that you can't keep yourself from looking at a car wreck on the side of the road. You know you don't want to see something bad, but as long as it's right there you want to see how bad it is.  It was really more odd than threatening in the grand scheme of things.

[img_assist|nid=63199|title=Harsdorf special interests|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=300|height=180]Headliner Joe the Plumber unfortunately could not make it.  But since he's neither a Joe nor a plumber, I guess I'm just as well of fixing that kitchen sprayer myself as trying to hire him.  I'm certainly not taking economic advice from him.  But there were plenty of other Tea Party stars on the bus. At least once they started coming out.  Two things were obvious right out of the gate - there weren't a lot of people on the bus, and they weren't in any hurry to confront the sizable group of protesters that were waiting when the bus showed up. The other thing that was obvious is that someone cannot spell, as the bus proudly proclaimed that the next Tea Party Express tour was taking place in August and Setpember. At least they were on message, as it was mis-spelled on both sides of the bus.  Cries of "Spell  Check" arose from the crowd.  Which again shows that if you're[img_assist|nid=63198|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=300|height=180] going to piss off schoolteachers you need to be careful with spelling and grammar.

Hudson is a genuinely pleasant Wisconsin river town, and has more good restaurants than any city of this size deserves along with a charming riverside park which was the home of the rally.

Approximately 300 people were at the rally at the time we tried to count, and it appeared that the number of Tea Party supporters and the protesters were fairly even (we counted a few more people we thought were protesters, but it was hard to distinguish who supported what in a a lot of cases).

The first few speakers were pretty well accepted by the protesters, who mostly stayed at the back of the crowd at the beginning.  But when Tea Party Nation founder Judson Philips referred to the protesters as "birth control gone wrong" the gloves more or less came off and the protesters became more raucous.

[img_assist|nid=63202|title=protesters at tea par|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=300|height=179]Phillips proceeded to haul out various other pieces of raw meat for the crowd, calling out the audience as confused victims of the public education system, and launching into a very odd recitation of the American Revolution, calling the British forces of evil, like liberals. He also said that the protesters were probably from a trailer park because they didn't have jobs.  I'm not quite sure how he figured the supporters were there on a work day.  The continual litany that the protesters were outside interests while they're local was confusing since the people on the bus were almost all from out of state, and almost everyone in the crowd was apparently from the area.

The day was broken up by musical performances by Ron and Kay Rivoli.  Other speakers included Representative John Murtha, Annette Olson (local Tea Party organizer) , Tabitha Hale (from Freedomworks) and Andrea Shay King, who has a BlogTalkRadio Tea Party show.  Ms. King seems to have managed the low point of the day by accusing the protesters and all Democrats as being "cry babies" and screaming three times "WAAAAHHH" at the crowd.  Many of us had hoped that Sheila Harsdorf would appear at the rally, but this probably would have been tipping her hat even more clearly toward extremism than her voting record. There were no current candidates for any Wisconsin office.

I have to say that one particular aspect of the rally surprised me.  You would think that such a stalwart group of patriots would have a sense of flag protocol that was as strong as mine was when I was a third grader.  The stage featured a display of the US flag along with the Tea Party "Don't Tread on Me" flag.  All on the same stand and at the same level.  If a liberal group had done this they would have had a field day with it.

This was a fairly interesting way to spend a few hours.   It was entertaining in a bizarre sort of way, and a good excuse to go have a great local craft brew and lunch at the San Pedro Cafe.  I also met some friends in the protester crowd. But all in all I would have rather been almost anywhere else.  This is what we, the progressives and moderates in the country, are up against. I was particularly struck by the irony of this bus full of out-of-state people lecturing the locals about the dangers of outsiders influencing them, but I'm beginning to get used to the fact that this sort of thing is now normal.  It's going to be a long battle, but we can make a good start by voting next week and thereby starting to straighten out our own little corner of the world called Wisconsin.

I'll have more pictures and video available later.



August 6, 2011 - 11:24am