Sharing tea

SHARING TEA…. At first blush, it seems a little silly to hear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bold champion of liberalism, suggest she has much in common with “Tea Party” activists, but there’s nevertheless something endearing about this message.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has much in common with the Tea Party…. In a “This Week” interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, Pelosi said, “We share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington, D.C., as — it just has to stop. And that’s why I’ve fought the special interest, whether it’s on energy, whether it’s on health insurance, whether it’s on pharmaceuticals and the rest.”

Pelosi held to her skepticism about what is behind the movement. “Some of it is orchestrated from the Republican headquarters,” Pelosi said. She also added that, “Some of it is hijacking the good intentions of lots of people who share some of our concerns that we have about the role of special interests.”

There are multiple factions within this so-called “movement,” and it’s often challenging to keep track of what it is, exactly, that these activists are so worked up about. Much of the time, the Teabaggers themselves don’t really know why they’re so angry.

But Pelosi’s suggestion that the activists have a fair amount in common with Democrats’ progressive ideas is not as foolish as it might seem. The “movement” cares about fiscal responsibility? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who added $5 trillion to the debt, left Dems with a $1.3 trillion deficit to clean up, and deliberately decided that they could expand government without paying for it. More recently, the GOP rejected PAYGO and a deficit commission that they proposed. If fiscal responsibility is a top concern, it’s entirely reasonable to argue Democrats are the more fiscally responsible party.

The “movement” cares about wealthy interests dictating public policy over the needs of regular Americans? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who not only run corporate lobbyists as candidates, but barely make a move without getting lobbyists’ permission.

The “movement” cares about taxes? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who voted against one of the largest tax-cut packages for the middle class in American history when they opposed the recovery effort a year ago.

The “movement” cares about the size and scope of government? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who expanded Medicare and enthusiastically embraced government intercepting Americans’ communications without a warrant.

To be sure, much of the Tea Party crowd is well beyond reason, and has embraced delusional and paranoid right-wing fantasies. For these folks, Speaker Pelosi’s remarks will likely be laughable.

But for some of the well-intentioned factions, the notion of driving a wedge isn’t entirely far-fetched.