President Obama: GOP Opposition to Stimulus ‘Helped to Create the Tea-Baggers’

May 4, 2010 9:07am

Three days after he decried the lack of civility in American politics, President Obama is quoted in a new book about his presidency referring to the Tea Party movement using a derogatory term with sexual connotations.

In Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise: President Obama, Year One,” President Obama is quoted in an November 30, 2009, interview saying that the unanimous vote of House Republicans vote against the stimulus bills “set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”

Tea Party activists loathe the term “tea baggers,” which has emerged in liberal media outlets and elsewhere as a method of mocking the activists and their concerns.

On Saturday, the president delivered a commencement address at the University of Michigan where he said one way “to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate … But we can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down.”

The book also describes many of the president’s top advisers cautioning him against trying to tackle health care reform in the first year because it might be too much to take on at the same time as the recession.

“‘I begged the president not to do this,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel says.

“They’ll give you a pass on this one,” Vice President Biden told the president.


UPDATE: Some liberal bloggers, taking issue with this post, have noted that some Tea Partyers coined and originally embraced the term "tea-baggers." That seems true, and I didn't address the coinage of the term above. But it was fairly soon, by April 2009, when anchors on CNN and MSNBC were employing the term with mocking innuendo, as seen in the links above, and pretty quickly after that Tea Party activists began taking umbrage with it. It's now a common way for some on the left to mock Tea Partyers.

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