What U.S. deficit would be today if George Bush, with blind obedience from his rubberstamp Republicans in the House and and Senate (including Rep. John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnnell and others who are still there today), had not drained the Treasury by waging two wars using unfunded supplementals while simultaneously giving tax cuts to his millionaire “base” — and then crashed the economy by defanging financial regulations, defunding financial regulators and mismanaging the country’s finances through fiscal irresponsibility and recklessness.
In the CBS/New York Times poll that came out this week, one response in particular provides definitive insight into the tea bagger mindset: 57 percent of self-described tea party supporters have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush.
This is the same George Bush who left office with 21 percent approval — in fact, his approval level had been below 50 percent since Jan.16, 2005 — by far the longest period of disapproval for any president since polling presidential approval began in the 1930s. Today, while only 4 percent of those polled said they had attended a rally or donated money to tea party organizers, about 18 percent said they agreed with tea party anti-establishment ideals. This 18 percent of Americans who support the tea parties and the 21 percent who supported Bush when he left the White House are similar to the 20 percent or so of Americans also supported Richard Nixon when he resigned in disgrace. In other words, tea baggers are, at least statistically, nothing new. They represent the rock-hard right-wing base that has been a factor in United States politics for generations.
The other 80 percent of Americans remember — nor will likely ever forget — that George Bush had not a single accomplishment of historical significance during the eight long years he was president. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bush, Cheney et al lied about the pretexts for invading Iraq, a fact that makes the wasted blood of thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi families even more tragic — not to mention the billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars needlessly drained for the treasury at the very moment that the economic collapse was looming. But it was Bush’s ineptitude — and baldfaced lying about it — in addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that finally forced normal Americans to recognize George W. Bush for what he was: Worst. President. Ever. His approval ratings never recovered after that debacle.
And since it was health care reform that agitated the tea baggers into spittle-spewing rage, let’s not forget that, under Bush, American taxpayers provided free universal health care to 30 million or so Iraqis while 45 million Americans had none.
It speaks volumes that it’s this barely articulate, incurious aristocratic bully that tea baggers voted for — twice — and still support to this day. How can they be so blind to this reality? Here’s how: In the poll 63 percent of tea partiers said they restrict their news consumption to Fox News. Only in Fox’s alternate reality can you be outraged over the Obama administration’s efforts to pull the nation back from the brink of economic collapse while ignoring the fact that the person most responsible for the Bush Recession is, well, George W. Bush.
Another prime example of the influence of Fox propaganda: A whopping 64 percent of tea baggers believe Pres. Obama has raised taxes on most Americans. As CBS noted in their coverage of this poll result: “[The] vast majority of Americans [95 percent] got a tax cut under the Obama administration.”
One unsurprising result from the poll is that tea baggers love Fox News’ most popular propagandists. They approve of Sarah Palin by 66 percent and Glenn Beck by 59 percent. This adoration of Beck, in particular, helps explain another aspect of the poll: Like Beck, tea baggers loathe the U.S. president:
Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama’s performance on the job, compared to 40 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approve of Mr. Obama’s job performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he is doing a good job.
Asked to volunteer what they don’t like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don’t like him. Eleven percent said he is turning the country more toward socialism, ten percent cited his health care reform efforts, and nine percent said he is dishonest.
Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Obama as “very liberal,” compared to 31 percent of Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say the president’s policies favor the poor, compared to 27 percent of Americans overall.
The fact that 56 percent of tea baggers say Pres. Obama’s policies favor the poor is telling. While only about 13 percent of Americans are black, a great many white people labor under the misperception that most poor people are black. More about tea baggers’ views on race below.
Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Obama’s policies are moving the country toward socialism. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall share that belief.
Asked what socialism means, roughly half of Tea Party supporters volunteered government ownership or control, far more than any other answer. Eleven percent cited taking away rights or limiting freedom, and eight percent said it means the redistribution of wealth.
Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don’t know. Twenty percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born in the United States.
Not surprisingly, the poll found that tea baggers hold deep-seated racist views:
Fifty-two percent believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Far fewer Americans overall — 28 percent — believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black people is 23 percent.
A majority of Tea Party suppers believe the Obama administration treats both blacks and whites the same way. But one in four believe the administration favors blacks over whites, an opinion shared by just 11 percent of Americans overall and seven percent of non-Tea Party whites.
Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of them — 89 percent — are white. Just one percent is black.
They tend to skew older: Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41 percent).
More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast.
A lot of the coverage of this poll focuses on the surprising result that self-identified tea baggers claim to be wealthier and more educated than would otherwise be expected from people who are so easily manipulated and duped into believing facts that are easily disproved. The best plausible explanation for this apparent outlier is, as Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, a tea bagger hero, might say: