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State of economy fuels anger

Date: 4/20/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

The gentleman who I interviewed at the Springfield "Tea Party" on Wednesday insisted that this was a non-partisan event designed to call attention to the Obama Administration deficit spending and unfair tax laws.

I doubt, though, another protester a few feet away holding the "Impeach Obama" sign would consider his message "non-partisan."

Dan Rose, the co-chair of the event and its spokesperson, said that Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for the mess we're in and that everyone who had served in Congress for the last 10 years must take part of the blame.

Rose is right about the fact that the economic storm we're in is due to the policies of Bush and Clinton, although I would take it back to Ronald Reagan as well.

And Rose and his fellow protesters are right that the current tax system leaves much to be desired, although I got the sense no one was acknowledging the middle class tax cut that has put a few more bucks in my paycheck of late courtesy of that Obama fellow some of them already want impeached.

That's the problem I had with some of the messages being thrust in my face there: the issues that could be discussed were covered with a coating of right wing talk radio ballyhoo.

So was this protest about issues or was it about Obama? Was it a way for FOX News to appeal to its base? A publicity stunt for Glenn Beck? An effort to re-energize the Republican Party?

You tell me.

I especially liked overhearing two protesters who were standing on the sidewalk and commenting on a guy driving a Saab. He wouldn't look at them, they said.

"He must be a liberal, driving a Saab," one said. They cackled.

Would they have said the same about me if I was driving my 1994 Geo Prism and didn't establish eye contact?

Would they say, "Must be a liberal driving a 15-year-old GM car?"

What the hell did that mean? And why would I even want to engage in a non-partisan discussion with them?

As I've seen time and time again when I talk with my friend Jake of City Jake's caf the producer of the most incredible corned beef sandwich on the planet that liberals and conservatives do have many issues in common and we can actually talk about them.

Of course, since I was covering the event, I couldn't very well engage people in what could be spirited discussions. I would also find it difficult to talk with folks who had teabags hanging off their baseball hats.

I think it's safe to say that everyone wants to see a country where small business can flourish and where taxation is truly fair and the rich pay at the same level as the not-so-rich. I happen to believe in term limits for all elected positions. I don't think the founders of the nation had intended for a politician to make a career of an office.

I do think the influence of multi-national corporations has become so pervasive that there are few parts of our lives that are not affected by them and yet they bear little responsibility for their actions.

There is a tremendous amount of anger in this nation. There are folks angry that their tax dollars have gone to support an illegal war. There are folks angry their candidate didn't win. There are people who are angry the assurances told to them about sub-prime mortgages turned out to be lies. There are people who are angry with themselves for believing they could afford those mortgages. There are people angry that their jobs have been shipped overseas.

Count me among the angry as well.

Anger goaded by political show business isn't going to solve anything, though. We need to talk about solutions.

his column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., E. Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.