Before a crowd that organizers claimed was 15,000 to 20,000, but these experienced ex-advance man's eyes saw as about 3,000, a parade of right-wing personalities used tax day to decry taxation, government, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and President Barack Obama with a rally outside California's state Capitol in Sacramento.
The event, like other so-called tea parties around the country, was heavily promoted by the Fox News channel, right-wing talk radio hosts, and the right-wing blogosphere.
Fox News personality Neil Cavuto, who does an ostensibly business-oriented show for the channel, was on hand, as was radio host and Ronald Reagan son Michael Reagan (I've been on his increasingly hysterical show a few times) and hystrionic blogger Michelle Malkin, along with California personalities like Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association chief Jon Coupal and state Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring, who walked alone back to his office.
The message? Well, if you're paying attention, you know the message. America is going socialist and surrenderist. Obama is a Manchurian candidate. Schwarzenegger is a closet socialist. The federal government is both totalitarian and weak - a tough combination to pull off - and the end is nigh.
If you are wondering what Fox News is doing organizing anti-administration rallies around the country, its obvious strategy is to aggregate all the already existing opponents of Obama into one audience. An audience for Fox News. And to incite that audience into paroxysms of believed illegitimacy regarding the Obama presidency.
As I mentioned to a top Republican consultant with whom I had an early lunch before checking out the Capitol tea party, this is a time-limited strategy, as half the audience will be dead in the next 10 years. A proposition with which he rather ruefully agreed.
What's wrong with Obama? Let us count the ways. Or, actually, let's not. Every cliche trotted out against him was on evidence at this event.
Suffice it to say that he is a Manchurian candidate who is out to destroy America. Nothwithstanding his military moves, which have much of the Pentagon cheering, and his sympathy for Wall Street bankers, which has much of the left jeering. He's running up a big deficit with his stimulus of the economy. Not that these folks were all that upset when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney inherited Bill Clinton's record budget surplus and turned it into a record deficit.
And what's wrong with Schwarzenegger? Well, he can count.
Which means that he sees that you can't balance the California budget by cuts alone. Which California's reality-eschewing far right never, ever spells out, because even many of their base voters would blanch at what a cuts-alone budget means.
As California's governor, Ronald Reagan instituted what was then the state's biggest tax increase to balance the budget. Nobody mentioned that in this tea party.
Is this a new movement?
What it is is an aggregation and further inciting of an existing minority of a minority.
Hasta la bye bye ...